Now that digital connectivity is near ubiquitous, one great recommendation can have far-reaching implications for your business. This goes for any type of business that relies on local customers – coffee shops, plumbers, solicitors – you name it.
Word-of-mouth and online recommendations are the backbone of attracting and keeping customers, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
Gone are the days when a letterbox flyer or leaflet in your local post office was enough.
Instead, here are the top five ways that you can harness the power of recommendations to help grow your customer base, increase awareness and build trust in your local area. The best part? Most of these tools are free!
Nextdoor is the world’s largest and fastest-growing platform for neighbourhoods.
It allows neighbours to discuss local news and issues as well as ask for or share trusted recommendations for a variety of services or businesses. In fact, 30% of all conversations on Nextdoor are recommendations.
With over 17,000 neighbourhoods in the UK already using Nextdoor, this is a great, free way to generate new and local business through recommendations, and unlike other social media platforms, you don’t have to garner “likes” or “follows” to get involved – just sign up and verify your address.
Setting up a Facebook Business Page for your small business is a great way to interact with your local area and start generating new leads. There’s lots of advice out there on how to set up a good Facebook business page too.
But the basics include making sure your information is up to date, your ‘About’ section is filled in, and ensuring you regularly post updates, photos and videos to your timeline to keep your followers engaged.
Previous customers can use Facebook Business Pages to contact you directly regarding your services and can leave you recommendations, reviews and a rating out of 5.
If you’re looking for an additional boost on Facebook and would like to grow your potential audience, it may be worth exploring advertising on Facebook as a paid way to help drive discovery among new customers.
3. Google My Business
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Any business owner that didn’t tap into Google would be missing out on a powerful tool with massive potential for their business.
By verifying and editing your business information, you can help customers to find you and tell them the story of your business.
Customers can also leave reviews and recommendations for your business, which can have a profound impact on your star rating. Getting reviews, comments and pictures on Google can give you a boost when potential customers search, with only verified local Google+ pages able to respond to reviews.
4. Customer review sites
Although not as powerful as personal recommendations from family, friends or neighbours, positive reviews on popular review sites bridge the gap between traditional word-of-mouth and viral forms of feedback through social media. There are a few widely used review sites where it’s almost certainly worth setting up your business and keeping on top of responding to both positive and negative reviews.
Review sites worth signing up to include Yelp and Trustpilot, which provide basic versions for free. Both allow consumers to rate businesses on a five-star scale whilst leaving details of their experience, with businesses able to respond to reviewers.
5. Trade recommendation sites
Whilst social media sites such as Nextdoor and Facebook are a great way to reach people in your businesses’ immediate vicinity, many businesses service a much wider area.
Making sure that your business is signed up to trade recommendation sites ensures that all the great reviews and recommendations received from previous customers are easily found by people looking for a specific service close to them.
There are a whole range of trade recommendation sites, such as Checkatrade, Trusted Trader, Rated People and MyBuilder. Whilst there is a cost involved in using these sites, they are a great way to grow your customer base, increase awareness, and build trust in your local area.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.