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The task of promoting your business always remains close to or at the top of our to-do lists. Whether you’re a new business trying to spread the word about your new venture or an established company that’s attempting to broaden your customer base, an advertising campaign is always an integral part of your growth strategy.

While advertising in traditional media is always our first thought, let’s think about the most important form of advertising out there that has the best chance to make (or break) our business – word of mouth.

We’ve all asked a friend or colleague for their opinion on a store, restaurant, or product. Why? They offer (usually) an unbiased view of that particular business. If they had a good experience, they are going to give their approval. If they had a bad experience, they are going to voice their disapproval.

Not only is this the most effective form of advertisement, but it is also the cheapest! You don’t have to pay a satisfied customer to sing your praises, they’ll do it for free.

So how do we maximize the investment we make in our customers? Let’s take a look at five key points that are essential to creating a happy customer:

  1. Get to know your customer – Learn what they like and dislike. Become familiar with their expectations. If you begin to think ahead of them and prepare things the way they like them, their comfort level with you increases dramatically.
  2. Attention to detail – Be attentive to your customer’s requests. Remember what they tell you the first time. Keep notes pertaining to the order. Go the extra mile to ensure that every little detail is exactly as they envisioned.
  3. Respond promptly – Did the customer e-mail you or leave you a voicemail? Make sure to respond to their message as quickly as possible. This ensures that the customer feels valued and important and not just another number.
  4. Produce quality – Use quality materials to produce your work. The cheapest white ink isn’t always the best, and doesn’t always give as many prints as a more expensive white ink. Ensure the garments have no defects. Double check spelling and sizing before outputting your artwork. The list goes on and on.
  5. Go the extra mile – Finish the job ahead of the due date. Deliver the order to the customer. Throw in an extra garment or two. Receiving extra freebies always earns you a gold star!
With the explosion of social media, customers have more outlets than ever to share their experiences with others. Having a good reputation with others can exponentially help you if that message is delivered where users can view others experiences on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Having a bad reputation can also quickly ruin any credibility you may have had with a potential client.

When you start to think about these things, you realize this isn’t rocket science. Simply doing your job the right way and going over and above for your clients can prove to be one of the best investments in advertising you could ever imagine.

- Tance Hughes is President of Tesep Supply Company. The company sells textile screen printing supplies and offers training to new and existing screen printers.
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