The age of mobile access and social media has made it easier than ever to spread the word about your startup – but more challenging than ever to keep your startup reputation in check.
The best allies you can have in a consumer-centric startup are your actual customers. They are the ones who will sing your praises to their friends and the ones who will advocate for your startup without pay or compensation.
So how can you ensure that your current customers are not just happy, but are so excited that they are recruiting new customers on your behalf? Make sure you aren’t missing these important steps to boost your positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Maritz Research reports that just 29 percent of complaints from consumers on Twitter were ever replied to in a study and that other social media routes are usually ignored too. You must monitor what people are saying about your startup on social media and then respond in a timely, public way. If a fight online gets ugly, bow out and address the issue privately through messaging or email (or maybe even an old-fashioned phone call). Don’t leave unhappy customers to stew in their dissatisfaction. Try to make them happy again, if possible, and show that you are willing to go that extra mile.
Personalize your business through behind-the-scenes videos or Snapchats and let people know the principles of your startup. Make consumers pay attention to your startup and not just the price tags on your products on services. In an ultra-competitive online environment, leaving a lasting impression is difficult but necessary to rise above.
You don’t have to operate as a technology startup to use it effectively. Consumers want fast response times, whether they are booking a flight from a tablet or playing online games from a smartphone. Your startup has to fit seamlessly into that instant-gratification ecosystem. Consumers expect startups to have the know-how to offer mobile options, user-friendly websites, and responsive social sites. Make sure you are using the vast inexpensive and free technology resources to build your business and that when necessary, you call on technology expertise.
Know your community
This is true for both in-person and virtual communities. What audiences online are also your target consumers? Where do they have out in cyberspace? How does your startup fit into your local community? Show up to events, volunteer, and partner with other local businesses. The more consumers who view you as a necessary part of your community, the better.
It truly is the age of the customer. Startups that want to survive must cater to consumers and keep them coming back after the initial sale. One way to do this is to keep them happy and loyal – and talking about you positively to their friends.