A lot of businesses will tell you that word-of-mouth (W.O.M.) is their primary mode of getting new business. This passive strategy will leave a business just waiting for whatever comes along. In today’s market place W.O.M. isn’t not enough. With the current restrictions facing businesses due to the global pandemic, business owners have to be more active and proactive to generate more exposure to get more leads than ever before.
Businesses who want to fuel their W.O.M. strategy need to develop a robust ‘referral process’ to weaponize their customer recommendations. To refer someone to a business, or service provider is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “to direct for testimony or guaranty as to character or ability” and “to direct attention usually by clear and specific mention”.
A referral is a powerful and motivating marketing strategy for any business. Forbes.com notes statistics from Social Media Today in an article from June, 2019.
- 78% of B2B marketers say that referral programs generate good or excellent leads.
- 60% of marketers say that referral programs generate a high volume of leads.
- 54% say that referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead than other channels.
- Marketers rate referrals as the 2nd-highest source of quality leads.
The article also notes that many business people wait too long to ask for a referral afraid that the relationship hasn’t been cultivated. In fact, asking for a referral early and following up for the referral notes confidence in your service and/or product and engages
ThriveHive.com offers several tips to get and keep getting referrals to boost your lead and customer flow.
- Make referrals part of your initial conversation. When you start work with a new customer, ask them to agree to a simple deal. If you do a great job for them, they will tell others about it.
- Cash in those compliments. If a customer is pleased with your work, thank them, and say something along the lines of, “It’s great to hear that you are happy with your experience. Would you happen to know of others who could benefit from our services?”
- Set goals. If you’ve been thinking about how to get referrals, the simple answer is practice. Set weekly goals for referrals. Promise yourself you’ll get at least five, ten, or even more per week. Be sure to record your goal and
- Be specific. When requesting a referral, be specific in regards to what kind of referral you’re seeking. If you’re looking for individuals with a high net worth, say so. If you’re seeking out companies, mention that. Tell your customer who your target audience is. That way, you won’t waste time pursuing referrals who won’t yield you the results you want.
- Offer exceptional service. You won’t succeed at getting any referrals at all unless the quality of your service goes above and beyond the standard for your industry. Your company should shine.
- Don’t accept just any referral. A referral is only valuable if it’s a quality one. Don’t ask customers to recommend just anyone to your company. The people they recommend should be ones with similar interests, who would be genuinely attracted to your business and what it has to offer. A list of random names will do nothing for you. Have you created a set of buyer personas for your business yet? This can help.
- Develop a referral system. You get what you give. Pay it forward by providing referrals to businesses and partners yourself. People will be more inclined to give you referrals in exchange. Plus, contributing to the greater good of your community will help to bolster your reputation.
- Integrate your referral requests with other marketing strategies. Need some ideas? We have the best of the best when it comes to examples of marketing strategies.
- Develop a customer loyalty program. Customers who are loyal to your business or brand evangelists are more likely to refer others to your business. Develop and maintain a customer loyalty program to incentivize customers to keep coming back and telling others to do the same.
“There are additional benefits when it comes to the quality of the new customers you are bringing in. Since people are most likely to hang out with others like themselves, the new customers trickling in will already be enthusiastic about what you have to offer” (ThriveHive.com, 2019).
Make a referral program a part of everything you and make sure you acknowledge and thank customers who provide you with a referral no matter whether it results in business or not. Don’t forget to reciprocate and practice what you preach.
The power of the referral is reflected in the ongoing digital conversation. Writing a blog for Hubspot.com, Carly Stec says, “Every day, more than 2.4 million brand-related conversations take place in the United States. This illustrates that people aren’t shy when it comes to talking about their experiences with companies, which might leave you wondering what you can do to sway these conversations in your company’s favor”.
Stec identifies 12 ways to get referrals flowing to your business in short order.
- Leverage LinkedIn
- Look for opportunities for a positive response
- Provide a template
- Act on positive feedback
- Distribute your content and resources
- Create different avenues for advocacy
- Add a customer loyalty program
- Align with your customers’ values
- Exceed expectations
- Adopt a customer referral program
- Refer other companies
- Offer incentives
Ultimately delighting customers and exceeding expectations are critical for your business to harvest referrals. Customer-focused activities that leave your clients satisfied beyond what they expect. Small actions on your part and by your employees will not only motivate customers to share their experiences with those they know.