According to a recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey the #1 marketing source of growth is still ‘word of mouth’. Funny, that’s the same mantra most small businesses gave me back in the day when I was a radio account executive. But it still bears the question – where does word of mouth start – and more importantly, what exactly are they saying about you?

Take a look at the results on the chart at the left and where small business owners say they are generating new business from or where they focus their marketing:

After ‘Word of Mouth’ the next five methods all involve the ability to track where your traffic is coming from. Bringing up the rear are radio and TV, with newspaper not even making the list.

Social Media: If you are posting on social media, that’s great – as long as you are using a Facebook pixel and driving traffic back to your website (unless you are one of the 64% of small businesses don’t have a website.)  How many sites are you using, and are you monitoring and responding back to comments on your social sites? Today, social media is taking the place of the backyard fence or other places where people would swap information and is definitely influencing your ‘word of mouth’.

Business Website: There really is no excuse to not have a website. You can go as simple as a DIY site from Wix or Godaddy which  can at least act as a digital business card or hire a professional web designer (which would be a Smaht! idea) for a more robust web presence. You may have a Facebook page, but consumers still expect you to have a website if they want to do business with you. Not only are you able to control your message and influence word of mouth, you are also increasing your local SEO search results.

Customer Newsletter or Email: Businesses that are using these methods have done the work of building an opt-in list and probably do have a website. Regular communication with your customer base with helpful information and not just a sales pitch all the time will help you build loyal customers. You can take it up a notch and really ramp up sales by using email as the first step to a marketing funnel.

Advertising on Social & Search: Most businesses are focusing on Facebook and Google AdWords. Both allow you to fine tune your target audience and track them from entry point to checkout or other conversion event. And again – using a marketing funnel is the best way to maximize your PPC costs and boost your ROI.

Advertising on Radio & TV: Here is an untapped gold mine for local business. Obviously, they have given up a huge portion of their business to digital. But there are new methods such as #250 that can help you to dramatically increase the conversion rate within minutes of hearing your commercial. #250 is a new nationwide mobile speed dial number that lets the customer call, use a spoken keyword and then have a text sent right to their phone before being connected to your store or a call center. Not only that, it tracks every call with all the data you need to be able to determine how effective a particular radio or TV station is working for you.

The End Result

Small business drives the nations economy – and from legacy family business to startups, they range from owners ingrained in traditional broadcast commercials to younger entrepreneurs well versed in digital. So keep in mind that while it seems that ‘word of mouth’ is the primary method, realize that it is influenced by a lot of other marketing channels. If you are interested in how to successfully blend both traditional and digital marketing, click here for a FREE consultation.