In the first couple of years after I started my first business, I spent way too much time working in my business and very little time working on it. The resulted in a lot of long hours when I was busy and then there were the slow times when time seemed to slow to a crawl. During one of the slow spells I studied where my new customers came from and saw that my best source of new customers was word-of-mouth referrals. What I wish that I had known back then is that you don’t have to just sit and wait for the referrals to come. Increasing your number of customers is a whole lot easier when you have the right referral marketing strategies in place. Let’s look at three ways to increase your high quality referrals.
Cultivate Referrals from Customers
One of the fastest ways to generate new business is to turn to your existing customers and ask for referrals. Happy and satisfied customers are usually glad to recommend you to their friends and family when you make it easy or fun for them to do so.
One way that you can make it easy is by giving your customers a special “family and friends only” discount voucher that they can give to their friends. This type of referral program has a high perceived value with the voucher recipient, which increases both program participation and redemption of the voucher.
Themed contests with prizes are another way that you can increase the effectiveness of your referral marketing program by injecting a little fun into it. After all, who doesn’t like to win something? You could create a theme around a holiday and incentivize the customer referral program by offering prizes for those who refer the most new customers. It is a lot easier to come up with referral program ideas when you focus on a theme.
The referral marketing strategies above work best if done only once, or at most twice, per year. However, you can, and should be asking your customers to be let others know about you if they know of anyone who could benefit from the product or service that you offer. By going the extra mile with your customers, you’ll be surprised at how many of your customers will turn into raving fans who send lots of new business your way.
Cultivate Referrals through Networking
This may come as a shock to many of you who know me personally, but I used to be shy, quiet, and reserved. I used to avoid networking because I just felt awkward and uncomfortable. However, there is great value in stepping outside of your comfort zone. It took me a while to finally see that. In fact, most of my breakthroughs in business have occurred precisely because I did step outside my comfort zone.
Look for networking and service groups that you can join in your area. If you’re shy, like I was, know that it will get easier and the people there won’t really bite. Networking is a lot more about farming than it is about hunting. As you get to know the people in your new group, you’ll be able to refer business to them and they’ll do the same for you.
Referrals for Terrific Employees
Referrals aren’t just a great source of new customers they can also be a great source of talented employees who will make a great addition to your team. Your customers and your current employees know what your business is all about and can often provide referrals when you’re looking to expand your team. Some of the best team members that I’ve added to my teams over the years have come as a direct result of asking people if they know someone who might be a great fit.
Surveys show that most businesses consider referrals to be an important source of new clients. At the same time, most businesses don’t have a referral marketing strategy in place. Putting referral programs in place in your business is the key to increasing your most significant source of new “ideal” clients. What can you do to start increasing the referrals in your business?