I often hear Business owners discussing their latest marketing tactic – adverts, direct mail drops, giveaways – many of them are expensive activities without known or proven results. I very seldom hear them talk about getting referrals which are an invaluable source of inexpensive leads. Successful business owners I meet often tell me referrals are the major source of business for them. Yet many fail to have a system or process to ensure they create and capture referrals as often as possible.
First you have to create customers who are your advocates. Your customers will judge you on the way you deliver your products and services – the experience of doing business with you – as much as the product or service itself. Put simply – you need to do a great job and consistently exceed your customers’ expectations. This will help to create loyal customers who are happy to talk about your business.
Capturing referrals is not a random process that happens whenever your customers happen to refer someone to you. Developing your business using referrals is all about building a structured process into your marketing plan. Here are some ideas:
- Ask your customers for referrals.
- Have your customers give their friends a gift from you.
- Ask an influential customer to send a letter or testimonial endorsing your product or service.
- Work with complementary businesses and have them promote your business to their customers.
- Put together an invitation only event and ask your customers to bring a guest.
Always thank your customers for referring people by offering some sort of tangible reward or benefit. It doesn’t have to be a finder’s fee, it can be much simpler – a bottle of wine, tickets to the movies, or simply a hand written thank you note and personal message.
So when you are planning for business growth, start closer to home and find ways to have your existing customers help you grow your business.
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