Marketing For Referrals and How To Get More Clients Easily
I just came from a lunch networking meeting with other local businesswomen and the question we discussed was:
How do you market to get referrals? What strategies do you use and what works?
There are a wide variety of businesses and industries in our networking gourp but there were several overall themes that came out of it:
Contact and connection – out of sight is out of mind, be active in the community
Fantastic service – provide outstanding service and stand behind what you do
Ask – people don’t think of it on their own, so be sure to ask for referrals
My response to this was, use metrics and to make sure you have regular contact explaining what you do – in depth.
As with marketing or anything else you do, you can’t track something if you aren’t paying attention to it. (Off topic: a lot of motivational speakers say that what you focus your time on is what you receive, so focus on the positive. Focus on referrals and you will start to receive more referrals, focus on tracking your income and your income will increase, etc). I found a wonderful free mind mapping website called Mind Meister that lets you create mind maps that are easy and fun. The problem with paper mind maps is that you run out of space, but this program adjusts and makes more room!
This is several months out of date, the Networking and Website sections have greatly expanded.
When I created my mind map, I made a list of all my clients and then worked backwards as to how I had first become in contact with them. I also wrote down all the networking groups I went to regularly and made a list of those who had inquired as well as those who became customers. What I created was a clear visualization of where my clients were coming from…my customers, friends and family.
This showed me that not only do my services speak for themselves, my clients are confident recommending me to others. It also shows that it is about the relationships and whom you know that counts. Networking is about meeting others and learning to know, like and trust each other but at the same time I have trouble explaining what I do to a large crowd or an individual in 30 seconds – 2 minutes. It is the long-term relationships I build that really count, and are what matter to me!
Regular and Meaningful Contact
For some, this is going to the same networking events over a long period of time, seeing the same people, participating in events in the same community. One way that I use this is to develop a monthly newsletter where I send out a brief personal company update of what we are doing and also include an article that relates to my business’ area of expertise: marketing, design, web and print. We offer complete range of services, but breaking it down into smaller pieces helps people understand it better.
Each month I choose a topic that I feel may be of interest to my customers, friends, networking groups, etc and discuss it. Not only does this hopefully answer some questions that may be confusing others, it helps clarify some of the problems I can solve and some of the services I offer.
In this newsletter, I also include a thank you section for anyone who has sent me referrals and link to their website as well. This ties into the idea, make others aware that you would like referrals to help build your business.
How To Market To Referrals
Here are a few other notes that came out of our meeting:
Relationship building – For some it’s networking events and face to face contact, for others it’s constant contact through email and social media
Referral based – Many businesses are referral based through clients, make sure to show that you appreciate them through hand written and thought out ‘thank you’ notes.
Testimonials and reviews are great as a validation source, but it is the referrals and face to face contact that really make a difference
Networking is very important, as the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind”.
Maximize Networking – To maximize a networking event, go into it with a plan in mind, a focus or goal as to what you want to achieve rather than to just socialize. Make others aware of what you are looking for by being very specific in the clients or projects you need.
Be available – invite people to your space.
Repetition Become a household name; be visible and reputable and active in the community.
Just ask for referrals “I’m building my business, do you have anyone who could use my services, do you have any one you could refer to me?”
Like attracts like If you have good clients, ask them for referrals as their friends and connections are probably like them – ‘birds of a feather flock together’
Power Partners Strengthen connections with people you often work with who target the same clients, you may work together on projects and they will otherwise see your work and refer you to mutual clients.
Trust It all boils down to trust. A referral reflects on the person who makes the connection so they want to know that they can trust you to deliver and follow through.
Online company videos A video will help introduce your company and services in just a few minutes. Referrals feel like they already know you and understand what you do.
Thank You Write a thank you and ask for a referral on each invoice. Let clients know how much you appreciate them as well.
One particular example, a travel agent writes thank you notes to her clients so that upon their return, they straight away see a handwritten note from her showing her appreciation of their trust to plan their ideal vacation. It is a nice little ‘welcome home’ card as well.
Marketing can seem scary and intimidating when you look at a list of names or unfamiliar faces but you can also start close to home and look at ways of marketing to your referral sources and those who will help you generate warm leads.