By Kelly Lloyd-Sanderson, Arbonne

Whether making a personal or business decision, we’re all more likely to go with a recommendation from an individual we know or a source we trust. Whether it’s something simple like choosing a meeting venue or selecting a supplier, or a tougher decision such as taking on a new employee, chances are we’ll opt for a product, service or individual if it or they have been recommended to us by someone within the same sector, or even better, by an existing contact.

Exactly the same principle applies to marketing a business verbally; word-of-mouth recommendation is invaluable. Some of the best marketing is based on the principle of ensuring positive messages and feedback is passed from one contact to another, whether it’s a strong endorsement from a client or customer, or gathering favourable online reviews and endorsements on social media.

But where do you begin when it comes to collating this material? Here are five top tips on gathering and utilising word-of-mouth feedback in order to boost the profile and reputation of a business.

1. You’ll be surprised at how willing current clients are to provide testimonials, so, when you’ve completed a successful project, ask the customer for a few words about your work and let them know how it will be used; this could include case studies, reviews, or in new business pitches. Remember that striking imagery can provide a lasting impression. Make sure to take photographs wherever possible so you can demonstrate your work visually

2. Adding customer testimonials to your website is a simple and highly effective way of using verbal communication while promoting your business. Testimonials demonstrate that other businesses have already been satisfied with the service you offer and provide reassurance to prospective clients

3. Create a bank of case studies to show how your services and products have benefitted to other companies. A short amount of text, possibly in bullet points, accompanied by images that map out a past project can help you to communicate great pieces of work to a future target audience. These case studies can also be used online, in sales brochures, in the press or as news stories in e-newsletters

4. Build reciprocal links with existing clients and customers into your website. Likewise, link to these contacts via social media posts, to showcase your existing relationships

5. Host an event for your clients. It’s an opportunity for you to thank them for their business and also allows clients to sing the praises of your business or introduce you to new people. These contacts may prove useful for future endorsements. Always connect on LinkedIn after you’ve attended a networking event so you can continue to remind them of your company news. LinkedIn also provides another platform on which to receive and display positive endorsements from the people you know