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Marketing Your Small Business Page 4

4. Word of mouth and establishing trust 

Establish TRUST with your customer. Word of mouth can make or break your business. It is often overlooked, much to the peril of the naive entrepreneur. What do we mean by trust? Easy:  customers believe that you are the go-to person/place for someone who is not in the know; that what you are selling them is truthful; that you are the expert; that your product is what you say it is. Some think establishing trust is tricky. Is it? 

Imagine that your daughter, the infant you held in your arms in the hospital years ago, when the doctors lifted her out of the oxygen tent, and you, who were holding your breath to see if she was alive, gasped, when suddenly her little chest flexed, inhaling all that is pure and rotten in this world. And you swelled with pride and hope and saw in her the promise of what could be, of what we all could become . . .And they, the learned few, in their sterile, green pajamas, held her out, she with the dark eyes because the blue of the iris had not yet set, and she lifted her gaze, indelible upon you, as they placed her lightness of being in your arms. And without one word, she showed you the gravity of absolute trust in all its wonder and vulnerability. 

Now, we're not saying that the trust you need to establish with your customers equals the bond between a sentimental author and his recent newborn. But trust is essential. It's hard to establish and easy to shatter. One of the most common mistakes people make is treating their customers like chattel. If you reward your customers with fair prices, a fair deal and a fair exchange, they will reward you with loyalty. Trust me. I know. 

Word of mouth is a lopsided tool – exploit it. People who are satisfied will tell between one and two friends about their positive experience. However, those who are dissatisfied will tell between 5-10 people. Think about how often you positively recommend a movie to someone. Then think about how often you pan one. How many people do you tell that “One Day" stunk? Which it did  . . . does. 

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