Marketing Your Small Business through Generating Referral and Repeat Business

Making Your Small Business Marketing Dollars Go Further by Generating Word-of-Mouth, Referral and Repeat Business

Relationship building is possibly the most effective way to market a small business these days. This is part one in a two part series that will give you a ton of ideas about how to market your small business through generating word-of-mouth, referral and repeat business:


Combat the clutter that your clients and customers filter out every day. 

We are so bombarded by marketing messages. Not one of us doesn’t experience information overload – nearly every day. There isn’t a lack of information out there about anything. In fact, the opposite is true today. If your business isn’t growing like you want it to, it’s not because there exists a lack of information about your product or service. It’s because of a lack of meaning.

Information by itself has become meaningless without context. The context you must create as the person responsible for marketing your small business:  a relationship between you and your prospects and customers that communicates trust and delivers value. Without that context you are just noise. And your prospects have their guard up and are tuning you out.

Referral Business
Referral Business

Your job is to gain their trust so that you can help them cut through all the noise and make a decision.

It’s not enough to get their attention with empty gimmicks and buzz creating marketing and advertising. There has to be a meaningful, relevant and emotion-provoking context that carries the message you put out if you want it to resonate with people.


Your prospects have been conditioned to tune you out and mistrust you.

Example: I know a roofer who, upon completion of a project, found he had many shingles left over. He looked around the neighborhood and noticed that many of the other houses were missing shingles of the same kind and color. Not having another job to get to that day, and wanting to get rid of the extra shingles, he decided to offer to replace the missing shingles on the other neighbor’s roofs for a ridiculously low fee. Door after door was slammed in his face. In the entire neighborhood, he finally found only one homeowner to take him up on his offer.

Now, let me remind you that all the other neighbors had a need that he could fill. He was standing in the midst of his target market, for sure. What’s more, he could deliver instant gratification at an incredible price. He was completely baffled as to why most of the homeowners treated him, as he put it, “like a snake oil salesman”. Have you ever experienced something similar? Haven’t we all been given the small business marketing advice to locate your target market and present them with what they need at a price they can afford? So – what happened here?


Think about this: 

What if the homeowners in this particular neighborhood already knew him? Or, what if the homeowner whose roof he had just repaired called the other neighbors and told them about this great roofer that just finished re-roofing their house and had some shingles left over and agreed to patch a few other roofs in the neighborhood for an amazing price? If he had been recommended in this way, do you think he would have received a warmer welcome? Certainly.

We have been conditioned to mistrust those we don’t already know or who haven’t been recommended. It’s often not enough today to locate your target market and present them with what they need at a price they can afford. In most cases, they also have to know you.


Technology has made it so that businesses all over the world can capture your customers simply by offering them a better price or a better deal.

Unless you live in a very small, rural town, there is no such thing as the neighborhood insurance salesman, or shopkeeper, or salon, or bank. Your “neighbors” are willing to drive 20 miles, or order it online. The best small business marketing solution you can employ is to build a sense of trust, loyalty and familiarity with your customers. Figure out how to position yourself as the ONLY choice in your customer’s mind for what you offer. Let’s say that you run a pest control business. It’s no longer enough to simply offer a great service. These days you need to be ultra-competitive by offering something more, like pest control software that not only helps your technicians be more efficient on the go but that also allows you to provide more personalized service to your clients. You need to have an easy way for them to look up a customer and get critical details the second the call comes through. Figure out how to position yourself as the ONLY choice in your customer’s mind for what you offer. See here

A great example of this is a handyman in Arizona who uses the tag line, “We’ll leave your house cleaner than when we came.” And they do – they not only clean up their own mess, but the leave the house noticeably cleaner than when they arrived. This has created intense customer loyalty while also giving their customers something to talk about. Which brings us to a very important point: your customer’s have relationships with those who will trust their recommendations? These referrals marketing are extremely valuable. If you can generate enough of them, and give new customers or clients reasons to refer you to their network, your business can grow virtually on its own.