Word of mouth advertising. Spreading the word. Personal recommendations. Putting in a good word. And a dozen other ways to say it… Referrals.
Absolutely the best form of advertising there is. No sales pressure, no credibility problems, and very low cost of sales. Here’s 10 of easy ways to get more referrals:
1. Ask for them
The simplest way in the world to get referrals is to ask for them. Whenever someone compliments you on a job, let them know you appreciate it, and that you’ll do just as good a job for their friends. Tell them that you’d appreciate it if they could spread the word if they really like your work.
You may assume that people would tell their friends, but it’s amazing the difference it makes if you give them that gentle reminder. People like to help those that do a good job for them and they feel good helping out their friends, who just happen to be your next customers…
2. Trade them.
Make a deal with other businesspeople you know. If you know they do good work, offer to tell people about them every chance you get, and ask them to return the favor. It’s a good way to start building relationships and it tells you what they really think of your work.
If they agree, make sure you keep an eye out for people to refer them to. Keep up your end of the bargain, and the odds are good they’ll keep theirs.
3. Reward them.
The idea of ‘finders fees’ is very common in big business, but it is frequently ignored in small business. It shouldn’t be. Make it known that when someone sends you a job, there’s something in it for them. Perhaps a set fee, or a percentage of the total. If they send you a new customer and you’re in retail, maybe a discount on their next purchase. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something worthwhile for them and sensible for you. $10 for a $25,000 job is insulting. $10 for a one time retail customer buying a used tennis racket might be too much.
In retail it is best to go with discounts. That encourages the customer to make additional purchases, or increases their loyalty as they see what else they can do with the money. Anything that expands the customer base for a retail outlet is worth rewarding.
4. Give them.
Want someone to send you referrals? Send some their way.
Nothing will start the process and make it solid like having them know that you’re ready to return the favor. So return it in advance.
Some people will send you referrals after this simply because they know it’s not going to be a one way street. Others because they appreciate the thought you showed them. And some will do it out of a feeling of owing you something. Very few will ignore it.
5. Print them.
Use testimonials in your literature and advertising.
Some people will wonder if they are the only ones that really liked your service, or if you did a good job for them just to get some extra business. If they see that others also appreciate your work and were willing to say so in print, they’ll feel more comfortable in stepping out of their shell and making their own satisfaction known.
Some people need the knowledge that they’re not the only ones who think a certain way before they’ll say so.
6. Give out more business cards.
Yes, they do make a difference.
If someone has your card, or hopefully more than one of them, they will do *something* with it. If you have asked them when they’re in the right frame of mind to pass it along, they will.
One of the best things you can do with business cards is to give more than one. If a person has just told you how much they like your work, hand them 5 business cards. Tell them something like : "Well, I certainly appreciate the good word. If you think you’d be doing them a favor, maybe you could pass these on to people you know when they need work done. Make sure you keep one for yourself in case you need to get a hold of me, though!"
Yes, this works. It’s different, so they remember. And it’s personal, so it matters to them.
7. Community service.
People are always willing to recommend those they see as leaders. Public service projects are a great way to become that leader and give something back to your community at the same time.
Make sure you don’t do this just for publicity, though. Find a cause you personally believe in and work with that. It will be much more satisfying for you, and more productive for the group you help. And you won’t come across as a phony. If you’re helping with a cause you believe in, people will see that you care. And they’ll realize you will probably care as much about your work as your cause.
8. Be helpful.
Yes, something that simple. People appreciate someone who is helpful. If they appreciate you, they’ll remember you and want to return the favor. Again, do this where it’s appropriate and where it’s meant sincerely. Like most things that lead to referrals, this is something that becomes an end in itself before long.
9. You’re never off duty.
You started your business because you’re interested in what you do and you want other people or businesses to benefit from the services and products you provide. So don’t be afraid to talk it up. Mention to everyone what you do. If you had a recent good result, talk to them about that or mention how exciting it is to work in your field. Even the receptionist of your office supply company may get interested – or she may mention your business to her boss! One chiropractor turned his favorite waitress into a patient when she mentioned she had a headache. If you don’t talk to people you will never find out that they are prospect.
10. Keep in touch.
The most important tip is to keep in touch. After 2 or 3 months of no contact you begin to fade in the memories of your clients and patients. We all get busy. We make changes. Life throws a million things at us every day. It’s easy to forget about people. It’s easy to let friendships fade away through lack of contact. We have all had it happen.
Business relationships work the same. If we stop having regular contact with someone, our relationship with them can fade away. It becomes less important and less a part of our life (and their life).
So, find ways to keep in touch with people. There are several easy ways:
- Call them
- Send an email
- Send a letter or note
- Stop by their business
- Do business with them
- Send a postcard
- Send a holiday or birthday card
- Send a monthly newsletter
Stay in touch with them at least every 30 days and you will keep your relationship current and strong. You will stay on their radar and they will stay on yours. This makes it much more likely they will find opportunities to send you business.
Contact Barry today to get started on your newsletter today!