Referral marketing is the best kind of marketing. I hope that after the previous posts, you realize that the single most important thing you need to do to get people to refer you is to be worthy of those referrals and to remember to invest in a referral marketing system.
John Jantsch says the customer’s cycle goes like this:
“Refer” is but one step of your marketing cycle, but is the most affordable, lucrative and easy, if, IF, you have invested in the previous six steps. So, let’s say your company is getting adequate exposure, people like you or the product enough that they have some inherent trust, they’ve tried it and bought in two times or more. Let’s say the cycle is complete except for the referral piece. Besides those steps, what can you do to make it easy to refer your business.
As Jantsch says: “The lifetime value of every single customer is unlimited when you factor in a customer’s ability to make referrals.”
- Get where the referrals are! People are relying heavily on social sites like Yelp to refer everything from auto mechanics to hair salons. Google Places (for bricks and mortar locations) is an excellent free resource that allows you to put all of your company information, photos, coupons and more and they aggregate reviews of your company from places like Yelp and Yahoo.
- Set up a Google Alerts for your business name so you can see what is being said about you online and get in front of the reviewers/referrals. This way, whether good or bad, you can respond immediately to what’s been posted about your business online, either by thanking the reviewer or by trying to correct their less than optimal experience.
- One of my favorite suggestions from The Referral Engine is about creating a “marketing board” comprised of your best and most involved customers and ask them how they think you should be marketing. Buy them lunch, get them together with other strategic customers (whom they might want to network with for other reasons) and get their input.
- Reach out to customers frequently (Jantsch says to contact five per day, by phone, to thank them) with appreciation and let them know, if they are pleased, you appreciate their referrals.
- Highlight certain customers in video interviews, podcasts or blog posts, particularly if they are business people themselves! These case studies highlight them AND your successful interactions with them.
- Consider membership and reward programs. A barber friend gives her customers a card to pass out to their friends. If their friend comes in, the referral gets a free cut. She also rewards frequent customers with their 10th cut free.
The expanded list of ways to reward and encourage referrals is outside the scope of this blog post so buy and read The Referral Engine but John Jantsch. Next up is building a strategic network of other business owners.
by Steven Schlagel