Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Friends' Praise, Referrals, Valuable Biz Tools

(Q.4) MY SMALL BUSINESS IS STARTING to grow and I wonder if there are some marketing strategies I'm overlooking. I've used online advertising and cold calling, and of course, spreading the word among friends and relatives who became my customer base. Any other ideas?

(A) TOO MANY SMALL BUSINESSES overlook a great source of marketing: praise and referrals from friends. Annie Tsai refines that concept in her book, The Small Business Online Marketing Handbook, claiming that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other types of advertisements. And they're four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend. So why not use those? If someone refers you, reward both the referrer and the referee; once you have that new customer, use strategies to keep him; offer a small retail product from your line, or a discount for service to both; and use gift cards to your business as incentives for present customers to bring in others.

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