Using Referrals for Your Small Business Marketing

Using Referrals for Your Small Business Marketing

Lately I’ve had the wonderful good fortune to get several substantial referrals from my colleagues and local network. I’m sure you too have been asked “Who do you use for [service/product]?” I’ve begun making a serious effort both to receive and give high quality referrals to the people I like to do business with and who do a great job for me and/or my clients.

Here are something things that I recommend you do as well:

1. Make sure you are referable. In other words, if people are delighted with your business they should have no hesitation referring you. This means, of course, giving great service, not acting like an ‘order-taker’ (my personal pet peeve), going above and beyond the call of duty and creating great value for your clients.

2. Have a referral process in place BEFORE your pipeline runs dry. By being proactive and getting the word out, you’ll have a far better chance of successfully creating an ongoing stream of prospects.

3. Target your referral base. I call this your “center of influence.” Those people who know your work well (former clients, suppliers, partners) who feel comfortable referring you to others.

4. Decide how you’ll target them. Depending upon who you’re targeting, a phone call might be appropriate, or perhaps it’s an email. Snail mail works really well too. Lately I’ve received postcards from my insurance agent, car dealership, and others announcing a formal referral program. You can do this too. Just one referral will easily pay for itself and your message won’t get lost in digital clutter.

5. Decide what’s in it for them. While some folks will refer you without expecting anything in return, if you’re going to create a formal referral program, you’ve got to decide what you’re willing to “pay” for each referral. Over time, I’ve been offered cash (always refused it), gift cards (these are a nice touch and what I always do for referrals), Yankees tickets (not my thing, but still happy to refer), credits toward my invoice (good if you think that will work for your type of business) and other types of incentives.

6. Announce the program in a broad-brushed way. Some great suggestions I’ve found on this subject include adding “Referrals Appreciated” to each of your online media including your website, email newsletters, online pages, and email signature.

7. Off line, try these suggestions. Print on (or insert a buckslip into) your invoices, your business cards, your statements, any packages or other snail mail you normally send out.

8. Give referrals. The best way to receive, is to give. It’s never been easier especially on LinkedIn, so surprise someone today with an unexpected pubic recommendation and you’ll likely get one right back.

Summer is coming, so why not put some of these in place NOW to pick up some of the off season slack many of us experience?

And, of course, you now know that referrals to Affordable Marketing Solutions are given and always appreciated too!