The first step to getting more referrals is to be more referable. No matter what you do to motivate your referral sources if they don’t trust you’ll do a good job, game over. But, even if you are highly referable there are things you can do to motivate your customers to willingly participate in your referral system more fully by simply adding a few creative ideas that spark their participation.
Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of ways that businesses from all industries have approached this idea and, a bit like a squirrel collects nuts, I’ve collected dozens of them and put them in my new book The Referral Engine – Teaching Your Business to Market Itself. Below are a few of those nuggets.
Heating and air conditioning contractor—During the sales process they used testimonial letters from satisfied clients and then asked the clients if they would be willing to provide a similar letter if everything worked out as promised. The customers and technician agreed on a quoted price, the technician completed the work, and then before collecting payment, offered an additional fifty-dollar referral fee if the clients wrote a letter on the spot. It worked every time.
Financial planner—Created his very own referral and lead network by sending a letter to ten other professionals whom he had worked with and felt comfortable referring business to. This letter informed them that he was creating a unique referral network of one hundred of the area’s top professional services providers and was inviting them to become a member, but that he needed them to recommend ten others who should belong to this exclusive group. He then created a resource directory and Website that featured all one hundred professionals. The entire group promoted the directory and Website and referred business to each other. As a result, other professionals begged to be allowed into the group. The strategy was so powerful that many of network members did no other form of marketing.
Software training company—Partnered with complementary businesses to provide training classes. A local print shop received all kinds of very poorly designed business cards, brochures, letterhead, etc. It partnered with a computer training company to offer its customers graphic design classes. Eventually they expanded it to marketing, Web design, and specific software applications. The key is to look for businesses where you can offer a natural extension of their product or service.
Attorney—Sponsored online teleseminars and invited well-known authors and speakers by allowing them to pitch their books or other products. Targeted clients lined up to hear the prominent speaker and provided their names and e-mail addresses to get on the free call. The teleseminars became so popular that the attorney recorded each call and created an entire library of products that he used for other marketing efforts. By sponsoring the well-known authors, the attorney created a very high-profile referral network.
Remodeling contractor—After this upper-end remodeling contractor finished a project, he offered to throw an open house party for friends and neighbors. The homeowner invited everyone to “come see what all the fuss was about” and see the new home. The remodeling contractor made a very small presentation and then passed out cards. This worked particularly well when he added a cigar tasting, a wine tasting, and a golf demonstration to the event. Of course, he also took photos of the homeowners enjoying their new home addition and mailed it around the neighborhood.
What creative referral ideas have you witnessed or participated in yourself?
Image credit: AchimH