#5 of 27 Awesome Growth Hacks
Step By Step Cheat Sheets That’ll Increase Your Businesses Bottom Line.
How To Make It Rain Referrals
If you don’t have a systematic referral programme you’re missing out on one of the simplest, lowest cost ways to generate your highest quality customers.
Referrals are the lifeblood of small business and if you haven’t yet institutionalised a referral programme then you’re making a huge mistake.
The reason referrals are so powerful is because they come from a credible third party that’s experienced first hand the benefits of doing business with you.
They’re even more powerful when they come from a friend, because you know that a friend has no ulterior motive but to do what’s in your best interest.
Referrals are also valuable because, most of the time, they’re completely free.
Also customers that give referrals are likely to become much more loyal to you and your business.
Great Customer Service Doesn't Always Mean Lots Of Referrals
Customer service is critical to the success of your referral programme. It’s the foundation of the referral process. But just because you give great customer service it doesn’t mean that you’ll get a lot of referrals.
Many small business owners assume that referrals will happen by themselves
If you are not deliberate and proactive in creating referrals, then the chances of you receiving as many referrals as you want are extremely slim.
Word-of-Mouth Advertising And Referrals Are NOT The Same
Word-of-mouth advertising happens when one of your customers mentions your business in a casual conversation. It’s not intentional, or planned. It’s just something that came out of their mouth!
A referral system is a methodical process that you have put in place to capture qualified prospects through your association with other people.
Your business needs word-of- mouth advertising, but don’t confuse that with developing a methodical system for getting referrals. The two things are very different.
In reality, most small business owners know that they have to ask for referrals to get more of them, but it’s the fear of asking that impedes them from moving forward.
Is this you?
How To Ask For A Referral
Imagine that you’re talking to one of your best customers who is really pleased with your services.
You ask her, “June, you’re a member of the Women’s Association here in London, right?”
June responds, “Yes, I am”.
You ask, “Do you go to their meetings on a regular basis?”
“Yes, most of the time” June says.
“Is there anyone in your association that you believe could benefit from my services? Maybe one or two people you’ve known in the group for a while or you sit next to regularly?”
You gave June a narrow frame of reference on which to think about it. It allowed her to “see” the potential referrals in her mind.
One of the simplest ways to harvest referrals from your customers is to write a simple letter asking them for their help.
(Asking for help is an important psychological trigger to use. As human beings we are hardwired to help others)
Centres of Influence Referral Programme
Whilst your best referrers will typically be your customers, there are many other people that you ought to include in your referral prospecting system.
These individuals are people who know and mingle with many other influential people in and around your area.
Just identifying two or three of these people can have a very big impact and is definitely worth the effort.
Your goal with these people is to be the first person on their mind when someone asks them about purchasing whatever it is that you do.
Before you get, you must give, which means in order to get lots of referrals from these people, you must be giving them referrals yourself.
Investing a little bit of time, effort and money to treat them like a star can pay back handsomely
The Power of Cross-Promotion
Perhaps the single most powerful referral programme is when you use cross-promotion using endorsements from other well respected people. It’s a dead simple idea.
A business you know or work with sends an endorsement letter about you and your product / service to their customers and you, in turn, do the same to your customers about them. It’s a win – win.
Here are some examples of complementary products or service businesses that could take advantage of this really powerful strategy:
- A pizza place and a video shop
- An accountant and financial planner
- A toy shop and a restaurant with good kids’ facilities
- A dry cleaner and a dress shop
- A hardware shop and a tile business
- A jewellery shop and a wedding business
Brainstorm with people in your network to come up with potential promotions that you could do together.
Becoming a Networking Pro
Networking is an important part of building a successful local business.
When I first started going to networking events, I was really pretty naïve.
I thought that my success would increase in proportion to the number of business cards I handed out. So I handed out lots of them! But I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting any business. Over time, I worked this out!
I recognised that people want to talk about themselves more than anything.
They are their own favourite subject.
Take advantage of that and learn these seven questions that will make people feel warm, appreciated and important.
- How did you get started in the... business?
- What do you enjoy most about your profession?
- What separates you and your company from the competition?
- What advice would you give someone just starting out in the... business?
- What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
- What do you see as the coming trends in the... sector?
- What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?
You’ll notice something in common with each of these questions, it is all about them.
Don’t expect to ask each of your centres of influence all these questions, but do have a few ready when you start to talk to them.