Referrals are like gold bullion to a small-business owner—they save you time and money, and provide you a direct line to a pre-qualified client. If generating referrals isn’t already a part of your marketing strategy, or if you’d like to make it a bigger part, it’s time to get your referral engine buzzing with these handy tips.
- Master the referral mindset. The key here is to do your best to serve every client you get. In other words, you want to deserve a referral from every client you serve. When you’re in the referral mindset, you see every client interaction as part of a chain: what you do now affects your likelihood of getting new business. Another part of the referral mindset? Referring clients to others when appropriate.
- Ask for referrals and say thank you. If your clients aren’t business owners, they may never have thought about the power of referrals, but if they’re happy with your work, they’ll probably be happy to help you succeed. Ask clients directly if they can give you names of others who might benefit from your services. To make that easier…
- Educate your clients. When you request referrals, give them a brief synopsis of what your company does, who your ideal clients are, and what you’ll do with any referrals you get (e.g. not call them during dinner to give a sales pitch). If a client refers someone who isn’t quite right for you, thank the client anyway and educate him or her some more.
- Reward referrals. There are dozens of creative (and familiar) ways to reward clients for referring other clients. You can offer cash incentives, discount services, gifts, free products, and so on. When deciding on your reward, be sure to tap into your research on your target audience so you hit just the right note.
- Build relationships. Find out who serves your target audience in other areas of their lives. Build relationships with those individuals or groups through free seminars or events, mutual referrals, or targeted advertising to expand your pool of potential clients.
Once You Have Referrals…
Follow through—quickly. This falls under the category of “striking while the iron’s hot,” and sets the tone right away that you’ll be on top of your game throughout your relationship with a client.
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