Videos and Secrets Draw More Referrals

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Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Scott Yates – Enjoy!

video referrals
photo credit: fensterbme via photopin cc

We are in a funny spot at my company, BlogMutt. We are a business blogging service for people that know how important it is to blog (all the smart ones), but who don’t have the time to write their own posts (nearly all).

I think there is no dishonor in hiring a blog writing service, just as there is no dishonor in hiring an accountant to do taxes, but on the other hand, I can see why people think a blog should be something they created themselves. For those people, we are happy to serve as ghost writers.

Because of that, however, our customers don’t necessarily want to say out loud on the Internet that they have hired a blog writing service, which can make generating referrals a bit of a challenge.

Any business that provides a product or service that people don’t necessarily feel like talking about suffers from this same challenge.

We’ve develop two powerful ways to overcome this particular challenge and develop a steady stream of referrals.

Video Referrals Work

When I visit a customer in person, I pull out my handy phone, that just happens to have an HD videocamera built in, and ask them to share what they think of our service. They don’t even have to give their name, so they are happy to say nice things. And they say very nice things. Their comments are really humbling in fact.

We add these videos to our site and let our current customers hook our potential customers.

I’m not the only one who’s figured this out. Zappos ran the numbers and reported that sales of products with videos attached jumped as much as 30 percent compared to products with no videos. If you’ve read The Referral Engine you know that prospective customers trust other customers more than they trust you.

Don’t have time to launch a whole video page? We use a tool called BuboBox; a couple lines of code and it’s done. If you don’t use this tool, use YouTube or use your brother-in-law with a BetaMax, but do get some video referrals on your site.

Dirty Little Secret of Referral Marketing: Shhhhh.

As I mentioned, not all customers of our blog writing service like to blab from the rooftops that they use our service. That’s fine, I get it.

And yet, when I look down the rolls of our hundreds of paying customers, I see that a huge percentage of them came from referrals. How can that be if there’s no trail of tweets? No flood of Facebook posts? No interest from Pinterest?

My hunch is that it’s related to fact that people like to keep secrets, but they LOVE to share secrets.

Every blog writer who’s been around knows that saying something is a “secret” in a blog post headline is a surefire way to get people to click. I, personally, would never in a million years stoop to such a gimmick.

I mean, unless it really was a secret… Or…


What were we talking about? Oh, yes. Secrets.

You see, I think the reason our customers love us is that it’s like a secret weapon. While they won’t post Tweets about us, if someone asks them what their secret to blogging every week is when they are so busy operating their small business, they first look around to see if anyone is listening and then they say in whispered tones that they don’t write their own blog posts, they use BlogMutt.

And those referrals take that to heart, perhaps even more seriously than if someone had said it out loud. We have a funny tendency to listen more when we think we are getting some insider information.

One way of describing that voice is sotto voce, which is Italian for a soft voice and is known by musicians and orators everywhere to be one of the most effective ways of getting the listener to lean in to hear what you have to say.

So, my secret tip about referral marketing isn’t a secret at all. The secret IS the tip: Harness the power of the secret. In the right situations ask your customers to keep their referral of you kind of hush-hush.

Tell them that you’ll give them a discount code for their friends, but tell them that they are specifically forbidden from tweeting it, or putting it on their own blog. Tell them that they can only spread it to friends, and maybe hint that those friends should be told that it is only for them. That may be just the thing needed to get the referrals they make to actually convert into paying customers.

If anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from me.

Scott C. Yates is Co-Founder of BlogMutt, his third startup. He built MyTrafficNews before it sold to, and started one other that is still operating today. Before starting his start-up life he was a writer and futurist. (He gets to say that because he actually wrote a book with “future” in the title.) Don’t tell anyone, but he also has lots more secrets. You can learn about them on the BlogMutt blog. (See what he did there?)


Blog Mutt, Referral Marketing, Scott Yates

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