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Free Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off by Jim Cockrum

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CHAPTER 63

GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS A VOICE TO BUILD LOYALTY

While not all business models lend themselves to the concept of social interaction online, many businesses could be taking advantage of this huge opportunity at virtually no expense whatsoever.

Setting up a Facebook fan page or a simple WordPress blog is a fairly straightforward process for any marginally experienced Internet user. Encouraging your customers to stop by your page and post their thoughts or ideas is a great way to build the types of relationships that can only happen with repeated interactions. If a customer feels like they have a voice or some say in the direction of your business, many of them will be far more likely to offer you their thoughts and opinions online rather than in person or on a comment card.

We all like to do business with people that we feel connected to. Open and honest conversations are a great way to establish this type of rapport. But, how can a busy business owner possibly have the time to maintain the multiple relationships that this sort of connection effort will require? Is it possible to allow your customers to speak their minds openly in a public forum and not have it backfire? Isn't it just better to work with customers one at a time and keep them separated?

While there are several legitimate concerns and questions surrounding the idea of having an open forum for customers to gather in an online forum, the potential benefits far outweigh the small expense and time commitment involved ...

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