When you’re looking for an auto body shop that won’t rake you over the coals or a kid-friendly dentist, what do you do first? Do you do a Google search or do you ask your local friends? We’ve all used Facebook to look for recommendations or texted a group of parent friends to see who they’ve used and would use again. This is because we trust other people’s experiences more than we trust what a company says on their website or in their ad. Luckily for the business owner, this is simple human nature and if you have a good product backed by good service, you probably already have referral marketing at work for you.
Referral marketing uses word of mouth communication and recommendations from past customers to grow a business. It takes a customer who’s happy with your product or your service and puts them out into the world as a walking, talking billboard.
Here are some ways it can work:
1. LOYALTY ROYALTY - REWARDS PROGRAMS
Do not underestimate the power of loyal customers. If you have a happy client who you know is going to spread the word about you, why not incentivise them with a referral rewards program? When a new customer gives you business, asking them how they heard about you gives your past customers a chance to earn rewards for their referral.
2. PASS IT ON - REFERRAL CARDS
A business card used for referrals, is a simple and glorious thing. Jot your client’s name down on a few of your business cards and ask them to pass them along to friends who might be in need of your services. When a new customer comes in with a card from a past client, you know exactly who to thank and you’ve identified a referral at work.
3. BE WEBSITE READY - PREPARE TO BE SHARED
The share function is alive and well on the internet making this strategy as easy as clicking a button. Have sharing functionality available on multiple pages of your website and on all of your social media platforms so people can quickly and easily share your business with people they know.
4. LEARN FROM THE BEST - STAY EDUCATED
Whether you have a few solid referral marketing strategies that work for you in place already or if you’ve tried a few and struck out, you have to always be open to finding new ways to get the word out. There are valuable resources from seasoned veterans in your field like CAC that can teach you tried and true strategies for using Facebook to find leads and lock them down.
5. SHOUT IT OUT LOUD AND PROUD - PUBLIC RECOGNITION
People love a shout out! When a customer has thrown some new business your way, taking the time to thank them publicly can pay off big time. Social media is an outstanding tool for this strategy. Not only does the customer you’re thanking see how much you appreciate them, but their friends and family will likely see the gesture and know that your business appreciates their customers.
6. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER - WHO ARE THEY AND HOW CAN THEY HELP YOU
Ok, this sounds creepy, but it’s not. If you’re a physical therapist and you deal with a lot of sports injury patients, it obviously benefits you to know if one of your clients works in a gym. This is the case with any profession and it doesn’t mean you have to become a stalker. There are a few simple questions you can ask clients to find out who they are and what they do. This is a must when it comes to being able to identify a client who can bring you additional business.
7. GIVE AND GET - REFER YOUR CLIENTS TO OTHERS
If a potential client comes to you and you realize that maybe you aren’t the right fit for them, refer them to someone who you know can help them. This does two things. You build trust with that potential client because they see that you won’t take advantage of a customer. Also, you’re helping out a fellow business which will hopefully turn around in your favor and come back to you one day.
8. BE INFORMATIVE - EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS
You don’t want people on the street misrepresenting your business and/or what it does. Make sure you’re clear about what you and your company can do and how it does it so that prospective clients are getting an accurate understanding of how things work when they come to you.
9. GENEROSITY FOR THE WIN - FREE CAN BE KEY
If an opportunity arises where you can showcase your product, services or skills at no charge to potential clients, do it. Something like a street fair or a fundraiser where you can put your business front and center and offer a bit of what you do at no cost is a great way to show that you put clients first and a great way to build potential business relationships.
10. ADJUST YOUR MINDSET - ACKNOWLEDGE NEW PATHS
If you’ve been thinking that you have to start from scratch to get new business instead of using pre-existing customers, it’s time to take a step forward and get used to the idea of referrals as a way to secure clients. It may not be the way our parents and grandparents did it, but there are way more resources that can put your business in front of new eyes these days. Don’t let traditional marketing approaches hold you back.
Statistics say that word-of-mouth referrals are likely to bring in more than 5 times as much business as a paid advertisement and customers brought in this way spend twice as much. If you’re looking for a way to make use of already-happy customers, you’ve got to give some of these strategies a try.