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Stop Hoping For Referrals – Build Your Referral Teams and Start Getting A Referral A Day

Stop Hoping For Referrals – Build Your Referral Teams and Start Getting A Referral A DayMost people believe that getting referrals is something that just happens, that all you need to do is just turn up to networking events, do a good job with your clients or customers and be part of a referral group. This could not be further from the truth and you are leaving so much money on the table.

There are plenty of things that need to be done to get referrals, but the biggest impact and instant results come from creating your own referral teams. A referral team is a group of people that are helping you to generate new business each day. They want to help you because you want to help them, I see them as part of my sales team, but without having to pay them as a sales person.

Referral Teams

For most people ‘Referral Teams’ will be a whole new concept, however in some way you have already been doing this, but without the structure or process, we are about to put in place. My referral team is a group of people who are out there each day creating new opportunities for our business. They are opening new doors for us, giving our business new exposure, filling our sales funnels and promoting our products and services whenever they can.

Just imagine what having 66 people promoting your business every day would do for your business?

There are 5 different groups of people within our referral teams, they are all as important as one another and all play a role in generating new business for you.

Profitability Partners

First, there are Profitability Partners. This is your A team, the people who have similar networks to yourself and people you really like and trust. You can have up to 6 profitability partners, any more and you will not have the time to help them. This is a 1on1 conversation between you and your partner every week. The phone call should not last more than 10 minutes and you go through and strategize how you can help one another. Most people are lucky if they talk to their referral partners every month, let alone every week. With constant communication, constant strategizing and constantly being front of mind of one another, you will be amazed how much business you can pass each other.

Super Group

Next, there is your Super Group. Your super group is up to 8 people that come together once a month. With technologies these days you can do this face to face or via webinar, zoom or some other conferencing platform. Your super group is about all 8 people sharing their networks, sharing their clients and customers and creating new opportunities for one another. Your super group needs 8 people (including yourself) that all sell to the same type of person but sell something different. For example, a marketing person with a graphic designer with a HR consultant with an IT consultant with a web developer. They all have the same client and all sell something different.

Cross Promotion

Next is your Cross Promotion partners. Doing cross promotions is the quickest way to grow your business and it is so simple to do. A cross promotion is simply I promote someone to my network and they promote me to their network. I know to get to be in front of all these potential clients who sit in another person’s network. Doing cross-promotions could be sharing content, video’s, webinars, live presentation, pdf’s and the list goes on. To set up a cross promotion all you need to do is just ask someone that has a similar network to you if they would like to cross promote. I believe if you have 12 cross promotion partners then you can do 2 a month. Trust me that is a business changer!

Content Distributors

Next is our Content Distributors. There is no point putting up content on social media unless it is being shared into new networks by other people. Most people just ‘hope’ that someone will share their content, I ensure that people do by making them content distributors. Every month I ask people if they would be happy to share my content if I shared their content. Every month we have 20+ people sharing our podcasts, webinars, articles, video’s and that allows us to build a following and reach thousands of new people every month. This is all done through other people’s networks. If you start with 20 content distributors you will start to reach new networks, pick up new clients and customers and create a strong following.

Affiliate Partners

Finally, is our Affiliate Partners. This is the only group of partners that get paid for creating a sale for us. Every other type of partner is helping me because I’m committed to helping them. Affiliates are happy to sell your product or service for a commission when they make a sale they get paid. For most people, they don’t use this type of partnership correctly and they often fail. The key is great communication and building the relationship.

With 20 affiliates, 20 content distributors, 12 cross promotion partners, 8 in your super group and 6 profitability partners you know have a team of 66 people who are out there creating new opportunities for your business. Referral teams don’t get built overnight, you need the right sorts of people and you might have to talk to hundreds before you get the right team. I know I am always looking for people who have the same mindset and values around partnerships, who have similar networks to myself and who have the desire to help one another. Without these, your referral relationship is going to fail before it has even started.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.

Michael GriffithsMichael Griffiths is the #1 authority on Referral Marketing training and the founder of the Referral Authority Blueprint. Michel gets people to generate more referrals, use their networks more effectively and fill their sales funnels through partnerships. Grab you free referral resources at www.referralmarketingguru.com.au/resources

3 15 Cause Marketing Ideas to Supercharge Your Referral Marketing Efforts

11.16.2014

It’s no secret that gaining new customers by way of referral is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow a business. Not only is it cheaper to acquire new customers this way than through advertising or other methods, but referred customers also tend to be a better fit for your style of doing business. However, beyond simply asking their customers for referrals or offering financial incentives to customers who give referrals, many local businesses are at a loss as to how to get more referrals.

One less utilized but potentially very effective method for getting people to talk about your business and refer new customers to you is cause marketing. Cause marketing is any type of marketing that involves the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for their mutual benefit. More and more local businesses are jumping on the cause marketing bandwagon, and for good reason. Consider the following:

  • 87% of consumers say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause, according to Cone Cause Evolution.
  • 72% of Americans want their employers to do more to support a cause or social issue.
  • A whopping 93% of Americans say that it is important for their employers to give them opportunities to become involved in social issues
  • 95% of college students say they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a company’s partnership with a cause

In short, if done correctly cause marketing can be a great way to not only make your customers more loyal to your brand and get more referrals, but also give your employees opportunities for personal growth and development. This will reduce employee turnover and help you attract higher-quality employees, which will allow you to deliver higher-quality service (which of course leads to more referrals).

How to make cause marketing effective

In order for your cause marketing efforts to be the most effective, it’s important that you partner with the right non-profit organization. Here’s a few tips to help you decide what organization to partner with:

  • For local businesses, it’s probably best to partner with a non-profit that is active in supporting the local community, vs one that has an international focus.
  • Avoid politically charged causes or organizations, unless you are ok with alienating 50% of the population.
  • If possible, pick an organization related to your industry, your products, or your services. For example, a lawn care company might decide to partner with their local parks department.
  • Get input from your customers and employees about what organizations they would like to support or already do support.
  • Make it clear to the organization that you are interested in a partnership for your mutual benefit, not simply a one-way deal where they benefit and you don’t get anything in return.

Once you decide which organization to partner with, brainstorm ideas about how you can get both your employees and your customers involved. Simply donating money every moth to a non-profit will certainly benefit the non-profit, but probably won’t do a whole lot to boost your referrals or increase loyalty to your brand. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can really make your cause marketing efforts much more effective. Here are 15 ideas about how local businesses can use cause marketing to grow their business, along with suggestions about what types of businesses might benefit the most from each idea:

  1. Sponsor a Habitat for Humanity build (contractors, tradespeople, real estate professionals)

Get your employees and customers to sign up to volunteer together at a Habitat for Humanity build site for a day. Offer customers who bring a friend with them who is not a customer a coupon or discount on your products or services.

 

  1. Host or sponsor an event for Big Brothers Big Sisters (restaurants, event venues, movie theaters, entertainment venues)

Invite your local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters to hold an event at your facility, either for free or for a drastically reduced price. Hand out coupons to those who attend that can be redeemed at a later date.

 

  1. Volunteer at the Humane Society (veterinarian, dog groomer, kennel, pet store)

Offer your employees paid time off to volunteer at the local Humane Society, where they’ll interact with other volunteers who are not your customers. Offer discounts to people who volunteer as an incentive to become your customers (this strategy could be used with any organization that uses volunteers).

 

  1. Sponsor a water stop in a running race (fitness clubs, personal trainers, fitness clothing retailers, health food store, outdoor recreation businesses).

Get your employees to volunteer to hand out water to people running the race. Offer discounts to your customers who register for the race and give them stacks of coupons to hand out to other participants.

 

  1. Support your local Meals on Wheels chapter (restaurants, catering companies, any business with a fleet of vehicles, car dealers, auto repair shops, home health care businesses, doctors, medical or long term care insurance providers).

Incentivize your employees to volunteer to deliver meals, and offer discounts to customers who deliver meals. Give your employees who volunteer branded magnets to put on their personal vehicles while they are delivering meals.

 

  1. Collect donations for Goodwill (retail shops with high volumes of foot traffic)

Put a collection box for your local Goodwill Store in your location, and offer people who come in to drop off a donation a discount or coupon.

 

  1. Help support your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (moving companies, realtors, water and damage restoration contractors, remodeling contractors, home builders)

Help facilitate donations of used furniture and building supplies to your local ReStore, and encourage your employees to volunteer there. Give the ReStore coupons or flyers promoting your services to hand out to people who shop there.

 

  1. Support a local theater, symphony orchestra, or performing arts venue (CPAs, financial planners, insurance agents, realtors).

Volunteer and encourage your employees to volunteer at the venue in question. Give your best clients tickets to events at the venue as a thank-you.

  1. Support a local medical clinic or health wagon (medical professionals, insurance agents, attorneys, counselors)

Volunteer your time or professional expertise. Match donations made by your clients to the organization in question. Ask the organization to give you free advertising space in their newsletter.

 

  1. Support your local zoo (veterinarian, pet store, kennel, entertainment venues)

Offer discounts to people who support the zoo via donations or volunteering time. Put a “donate” button on your website that links to the zoo’s website. Encourage your employees and customers to volunteer at the zoo.

 

  1. Partner with a museum (financial services professionals, attorneys, B2B service companies)

Sponsor events at the museum or volunteer at the museum. Purchase tickets to give to your customers as a thank-you.

 

  1. Support your local volunteer fire department (restaurants, entertainment venues, golf courses, event venues)

Offer to donate a certain percentage of proceeds from an event at your business to the fire department. Get the fire department to help promote the event to their mailing list.

 

  1. Volunteer or support your local library (hobby shops, coffee shops, movie theaters, entertainment venues, pediatricians, dentists, health clubs)

Collect books to donate to the library, or offer to sponsor educational events at the library. Sponsor the summer reading program in exchange for the opportunity to advertise on materials promoting the program.

 

  1. Participate in a clean-up day at a local park (lawn care companies, outdoor recreation retailers, landscaping contractors).

Get your customers and employees to volunteer together to clean up a local park. Offer coupons to anyone who participates in the event or who just happens to come by the park that day.

 

  1. Be a booster for a local high school sports team or marching band (any business that caters to families with school-age children).

Help financially support a local high school sports team or music program, and show up to volunteer at their events. Be careful with this one, though—high school sports rivalries can get pretty intense, and you may lose some customers who are fans of a rival team.

 

Hopefully, something on the list above gave you an idea about how you can use cause marketing to grow your business. Perhaps you have already used one of these ideas or something similar and have benefited as a result. If so, please share your experience by leaving a comment below so other readers can be inspired by your example.

 

About Kevin Jordan

Kevin JordanKevin Jordan is a small business marketing consultant and member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. He’s also co-author of the award-winning book The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation and the host of the top-rated video podcast The Small Business Marketing Minute Show. You can connect with Kevin on Twitter @RMCVirginia.

4 Is Your ‘About’ Page Ruining Your Chances of Getting a Referral?

Your ‘About’ Page - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Canva

Every business has a website, right?

It is your shop window; the place where people learn about you, your brand and the products or services that you’re selling.

And due to our heavy online usage habits, it’s also the place that dictates the sustainability of a company.

You see, every business needs to be liked.

According to the New York Times, 65% of new business comes from referrals.

Meaning that almost two thirds of consumers make a purchase because someone they know has recommended a particular product or service.

On your website, there’s one page that’s more important to securing referrals than all the others.

It’s your ‘about’ page.

In this post, I’ll tell explain exactly why this page is so important.

I’ll give you some simple pointers that’ll help you create a killer piece of content to sit in this area of your site.

[Content that will win you business both now and in the future.]

And finally, I’ll also reveal how to tell if your ‘about’ page is failing you.

The ‘about’ page – what’s the big deal?

This is where your prospective customers get to know you – the place where they form those all-important first impressions.

And it’s these very impressions that will make or break your chances of getting a referral.

It’s a question of pure logic.

As consumers, we use the extra details that we learn about a brand on this page as backup in case we’re undecided about whether to buy something.

A good ‘about’ page pushes a lead further down a sales funnel, either consciously or sub-consciously.

If we’ve subsequently given our prospect a great service, we build on those good early impressions (again, either consciously or sub-consciously).

Then, it’s only now, at the end of the customer journey, that we potentially reap the ultimate reward: the referral.

As you surely know, this is the best and most powerful form of marketing there is.

And it’s all thanks to the first step: the ‘about’ page.

However, creating a quality piece of content in this area clearly isn’t straightforward, otherwise more businesses would do it.

Despite the importance of the ‘about’ page, this is the section of a website where a company traditionally drones on about how many years they’ve been operating.

Or how many offices they have scattered across the world.

A good ‘about’ page will empower your brand and make you memorable.

It’s funny.

For many business owners who are tasked with creating content for their websites, the ‘about’ page is usually given low priority status.

Yet this is a huge mistake – it’s ignoring one of the oldest clichés in the book: that people buy from people.

An ‘about’ page is critical to a website’s success.

It’s your chance to step away from the boardroom and reveal the people behind your brand.

But an ‘about’ page is about much more than just providing an opportunity for chitter-chatter.

This is about creating copy that will help establish some of the main pillars that people need to see and feel before they part with their hard-earned cash.

We’re talking about factors such as trust, integrity, authenticity, personality and morality.

In summary, your ‘about’ page needs to ‘wow’ visitors and impel them to recommend you to the people in their lives.

After all, referrals are how you create a memorable brand; one that will enjoy a stable future.

So, what can you do about your page?

For starters, don’t be self-obsessed.

You have to put yourself in a visitor’s shoes.

Suppose that you’ve just landed on a website.

What do you need to hear in order to convince you to make a transaction?

Which brands do you admire?

Which businesses do you trust, admire and respect?

Chances are, they’ve convinced you through having a clear and consistent content strategy.

To that end, ironically, your ‘about’ page is more about ‘them’ than it is about you.

Take time to establish your core values.

Think about your customer pain points (why are they even considering buying from you in the first place?).

Then map out your content and make sure that everything you’re saying is relevant to the customer.

With all due respect, all things being equal, they don’t care whether you’ve been trading for 10 years or 10 minutes.

They don’t care about industry awards they’ve never heard of.

All they care about is what they can get out of their time on your site.

Can they get what they want?

To that end, what you have to say about your business isn’t really the point.

By contrast, you should actually focus on what your visitors need to get out of their time on this section of your website.

Are you leaving money on the table?

Here’s a quick X-step process to find out whether you could do a better job with your ‘about’ page.

[Hint: you’ll need Google Analytics set up with your website.]

Step 1:Your ‘About’ Page - Duct Tape Marketing

After opening up your Google Analytics account, click on Behavior.

 

Your ‘About’ Page - Duct Tape MarketingStep 2:

Now click on All Content.

Step 3:

You should automatically land on the first option: All Pages.

What you’re looking at is a breakdown of what people are doing on each of the pages on your website.

Now find your ‘about’ page.

Most businesses will see this in one of the top 10 most-visited pages on their website, but if it’s not there, then go through the other pages until you find it.

Step 4:

Once you’ve found the stats for your page, look at the column under bounce rate.

Step 5 [the analysis]:

As you may or may not know, your bounce rate reveals how many people are leaving a certain page without taking any other action.

In other words, they’re either not finding what want or aren’t liking what they see.

Clearly, the lower the bounce rate is for your ‘about’ page, the better the job it’s doing.

If your bounce rate for your ‘about’ page was 100%, everyone’s leaving after reading your copy and you’re doing terrible.

If it’s 0%, your ‘about’ page has definitely piqued their interest and you’re doing great.

But those examples aren’t that helpful.

They’re too extreme.

So the big question is, what bounce rate should you be aiming for?

In truth, there’s no clear right or wrong answer.

Having said that, research does tend to indicate that a bounce rate of 25-30% is very good (and probably as good as it’ll get).

Most businesses will probably see a bounce rate in the region of 55-85%.

And it’s those companies, the vast majority, who can improve their ‘about’ page.

All the top entrepreneurs always say that it’s the little details that yield the big results.

So surely it’s worth putting some effort into your ‘about’ page?

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.

Matt PressMatt Press is an experienced copywriter who has written for some of the UK’s biggest brands, such as Sky, Three and Vodafone. He now runs his own content marketing agency, Splash Copywriters.

1 The Art of the Ask: How to Ask for a Referral

The Art of the Ask: How to Ask for a Referral - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Pixabay.com

The main source of new orders for many small businesses is referrals. The reason is clear. When people are happy with a service or product, they tell others about it and new orders result. Referrals are a strong form of advertising because they carry an independent assessment from a user that your product or service is worth buying.

As a result, referrals should occupy a prime place in your business plan. So many people share their thoughts online these days that we are neglecting a prime source of sales if we are not able to reach out to satisfied customers by asking for a referral.

But how to ask for a referral can be a challenge. How do we do so without embarrassing customers? Here’s how. Check out these examples of asking for referrals that can serve your business well.

Looking for solutions

A common form of referral occurs when a person asks friends or family members whether they have solutions for a problem or suggestions for a service they would like to use. Their friends and family respond by recommending certain products or services. Today many of these discussions occur in online chat rooms rather than directly person to person, which gives them a much wider reach.

You can suggest to your satisfied customers that they respond to these questions by mentioning your business where it is relevant. Drop the hint through an email or even a telephone call if you feel confident about asking customers for referrals in that way. Customers who are happy with your service will usually be prepared to provide a direct response; sometimes all it takes is to encourage them to do so.

Spreading the word

Another type of referral is a testimonial. Someone reviews your product or service, explaining why they like it so much. They are, in effect, referring you to other people who could be interested in your business. Potential clients can see the testimonials on the site on which the review appears, such as Yelp or Amazon, and they will be favorably disposed to buy the product or service.

We need not be afraid to ask for such testimonials. When someone lets you know they are happy with your product or service, you might tell them that others would like to know about it and suggest that they write a favorable review about your business.

Another way to encourage referrals is to provide an incentive for customers to refer your service or product to others. Let them know that if they refer two or three people to your service or product you will send them a coupon or a discount as a reward. Of course, make sure you track the referrals correctly and award them in a reasonable time to avoid disappointing your clients.

You can also make these referrals work harder for you. You can place extracts from these favorable reviews on your website or in your email messages. In that way the reviews will be seen by a wider audience than those who visit the site on which they originally appeared. Of course, extracts from two or three favorable reviews would work better than just one.

Add buttons

Add share buttons to your website so that people are able to refer others to your business simply by tapping or clicking on a link. Say something like, “Did you enjoy this service? Share your experience with others.” Invite them to enter the email address of friends or colleagues.

Should you have a blog on your website, you might want to have visitors to your website punch a “share” button to send the blog to others. That way, you increase your exposure and so are asking for referrals.

With so many people “liking” items on Facebook these days, it does not take much effort to turn your facebook fans into your customers. Soon all their friends will know about your product or service.

Expand reach of webinars and workshops

When you hold a webinar or online workshop ask those who register to forward the information to colleagues, friends or business associates who would also benefit from the information provided in the event.

When the event is over, send them an email and ask them to rate the workshop or webinar. If they give you a good rating, you will be able to publish that on your website as a testimonial.

Use emails

Another way to encourage referrals is to ask at the end of your emails whether your clients know of anyone else who needs assistance with the problem that you solve. Provide them with a link to your website that they can use as a referral.

For example, at the end of an email newsletter, send a message that is similar to the following, “Thank you for subscribing! Do you know someone who would also benefit from this information? Please forward this link so they can sign up too.” Then, you can offer an incentive for referrals as a thank you.

Link with others

Consider including businesses that are complementary to yours to extend your reach. Customers of another business that is close to yours might like to know what you can offer their clients. Together you can reach more people than individually.

Take notice of complaints

Listen to what people say about your business. Even when your clients have complaints, check to see how you could have changed their experience into a pleasant one. Make those changes to avoid future complaints. Continue to do that until you start to receive those favorable referrals.

Look further

Check whether there are any places on your websites, in your emails or other communications where you are not asking for referrals from satisfied customers. When you find them, make sure you include a way to encourage referrals in a pleasant way.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the best way to obtain referrals is to earn them in the first place. When your business does something extraordinary the chances are that your clients will tell others about their experience. When they tell their friends and business associates online what you have done for them, your business is bound to benefit.

When that happens, extend those referrals into other avenues, and make sure you are asking customers for referrals in the ways we have outlined.

Now you know that asking for a referral does not have to be intimidating, there’s every reason to start doing so now.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.

Delan CooperDelan Cooper is a writer with years of experience in marketing communication. He enjoys meeting new people and reading more books to get inspired for his own book. Connect with him on on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Why Online Reviews Should Be a Part of Your Referral Marketing Program

When it comes to marketing, nothing beats a quality referral from a trusted source. Developing a strong referral program is vital for many businesses. Increasingly, online reviews can play a very important part in a vibrant referral program.

We all have experienced the power of a referral, whether it is for our business or from our personal experiences for products and services that we needed.

Referral Marketing is Important

I’ve worked with many small businesses that join business networking groups to build a referral network. I’ve done this for my business too – I am currently a member of several local chambers, and I’m also a member of a local Business Network International (BNI) chapter. Let’s be honest, most of us join these groups for the networking and ultimately the referrals that we hope will come.

While these networking groups can be a great source of referrals, I think that many businesses miss a big opportunity by not developing a formal referral marketing program. It is important to take control of the referral marketing process as it is arguably the most important marketing program that many small businesses can develop. And even if a business has developed a robust referral marketing program, there is a component that many businesses miss – incorporating and owning the online review process.

John Jantsch has written an excellent book on referral marketing – The Referral Engine – that does a fantastic job of laying out several referral techniques. I encourage people to read this book and think about how they can use it for their business.

I want to focus on how online reviews can be a powerful addition to a referral marketing program.

Online Reviews Are Trusted  

Online Reviews

Increasingly, online reviews are playing an important role in not only helping be found online but being seen as a trusted business. Keep in mind that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal referrals. These personal referrals include recommendations from family and friends!

Online reviews are read by nearly everyone who uses the internet. According to Adweek, 81% of customers conduct research online before buying from a company. For certain industries like restaurants or retail, 93% of U.S. consumers check online reviews at least some of the time.

Strong Online Reviews Don’t Just Happen

If a business does not take control of the online review process, a couple of things typically happen – neither are good for the business:

  • Reviews skew to the negative – good reviews are almost under-represented.
  • No reviews – if a potential customer finds your business on your Google My Business page, or Yelp, or other important review-oriented sites, and they don’t see any reviews that also says things about your business.

If you don’t own the review process, and make it a habit of asking satisfied customers to write reviews about your business, your online reputation may be less than impressive. People are often more motivated to write a negative review.

Online Reviews Help With Local SEO

Online review sites are really important for local search engine optimization. Local SEO is triggered by many searches on a mobile device or by searches that include a product or service in the search phrase along with a location. An example would be “Home Remodeler St Charles MO”.

Having several strong reviews on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and industry specific sites like Zillow (for realtors), Avvo (for Attorneys), HealthGrades (for Medical Professionals), and Houzz (Home Remodelers and Interior Designers) can make your business findable. It is not uncommon that your business listing on one of these review sites might show up higher in the search results than your website.

Some businesses are concerned that if their customers write online reviews for their business that it will make it easy for a competitor to poach their customers. But it is far riskier if there’s no information, or luke warm to poor reviews, out there about your business or about what it’s like to be your customer. Invisibility is a worse problem.

Taking Your Online Review Process to the Next Step…

Hopefully you agree that online reviews are important. Now how can you take these to the next step and strengthen the referral marketing aspect of online reviews?

First, make it as easy as possible for happy customers to write reviews about your business by creating a review funnel that makes sure their reviews are on the most important review sites for your business. Satisfied customers are willing to write reviews if you ask them, and you make it easy and convenient for them.

Turn your customers into advocates. One of the important tenants of developing a strong referral program is educating your champions. Your customers can be some of your biggest champions, so consider educating them on what is important for your business. Ask for authentic but specific reviews about your business that will help you attract your ideal customers.

An educated customer is often a better customer. Spend time with them to understand their problems, explain your processes, why you are different, and what value you bring. This will all translate into information that your customers can use to write those online reviews – or when talking with friends and family.

Summary

Nothing beats the power of a personal referral. But online reviews can serve as a strong second with the added benefit of helping people find out about your business 24-7-365. Your referral partners are always available with someone has the must have or must do need, but with a strong online review management program you can! Consider adding a customer online review component to your referral marketing program.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.

Ken Tucker Jan 2015This post was written by Ken Tucker, owner and founder of Changescape Web. Changescape Web is an integrated small business marketing solutions company delivering managed marketing services for clients across the US. These include website design, search engine optimization, social media management, reputation management, and lead generation services.

1 Master the Art to Finding the Right Referrals

Master the Art to Finding the Right Referrals - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: iStockPhoto

Referrals are an important part of any successful business and shouldn’t be overlooked. Referrals don’t just happen, though that would be wonderful. You need to be creative, persistent and implement a strategy to generate them. Are you providing exceptional customer service, going above and beyond and leaving your clients impressed? If so it’s time to begin the referral process and see what happens!

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to propel a referral. Who doesn’t love hearing about a great product or service from a reliable, trustworthy source? Think of a time when you had a bad experience.  I’m sure you shared negative feedback with anyone who would listen. And, I’m sure it left you with a bad impression for a while. But, what happens you when you have a positive experience? When you’ve exceeded client’s expectations they’re more than likely to share their feedback in a positive way. In fact, according to a study published by Nielsen, 84 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues about products and services. So, go ahead and exceed your client’s expectations so they can brag about you. There’s only good to come from it.

The Key is in the Follow Up

Follow up with your existing clients as soon as your product and service is delivered. Send a hand written thank you note, along with a small gesture of kindness. Do they like to golf? Send them a golf ball.  Are they an avid reader?  How about a latest best seller? Are they a workout fanatic? Send them a unique water bottle. If expectations were exceeded, ask your clients if they know of anyone else that might be interested in your products or services. It’s important to show them that you appreciate their business. Don’t expect a referral every time, but every couple of times will be fantastic for building a pre-qualified customer base.  Think of it like a love engine that keeps on giving you business.  Cherish your clients and who they refer to you. Be grateful on a daily basis and build connections for life.

The Power of Karma

I’m a big believer in the power of karma! It’s not all about asking. To circulate positive energy you need to give to get. Try giving a referral for no reason or just because — as a simple act of kindness. Karma is the Law of Cosmic Cause and Effect meaning what comes around goes around. The more you give, the more you will get. Do you like your graphic designer? Printer? Promotional partner? Event planner? Give a referral to a business colleague. Not a believer of karma?  Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

Use Social Media

Social media is an important part of our daily business and especially with the millennial market, it’s a must to be active. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for referral marketing and often underutilized. Spend a few strategic hours each week on LinkedIn and you’ll be amazed at the results. First, make sure you have a LinkedIn page that you’re proud to promote.  Are you looking to target a certain industry or company? Put together a list of three to five businesses you’d like to contact do a quick search and see who in your network is connected to the them. Send your contacts a note through LinkedIn and ask for an introduction. Hopefully your connection will respond favorably and you can move forward with your request. It’s as easy as that!

Interested in a few other ways to boost your referrals and recommendations with social media? Post updates daily, celebrate your colleague’s successes and accomplishments and follow your prospects and clients on platforms that are a part of your normal business promotion. Show interest to gain interest!

Referral marketing is a positive tool that helps you build business and get results. Keep in mind this does take time but the results will be well worth your effort. Make a commitment to take a couple of these referral strategies and implement them, in ways that work for you. Once you have a system in place, you’re on your way to new leads, potential partners and customers who want to give you business.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.

Rachel LeoneRachel Leone is president of Leone Marketing Solutions a trade show and event marketing firm specializing in promotional products.  For over two decades she has helped startups, small businesses and Fortune 500 brands stand out in the crowd with promotional products, premiums and gifts that create awareness and attract attention. For more information or a complimentary brainstorming session contact her at 781.740.3171 or rachel@leonemarketing.com

1 The Easiest Way to Ask for Referrals

Closeup of a business handshake

We have a great opportunity in the small business world these days that can be simply defined by one word: collaboration.  Coming together and focusing on a common goal, contributing what resources you have, and working towards something bigger that just yourself is the idea here.  I have the opportunity to work in collaboration with some of the world’s greatest marketing consultants on a daily basis with the common goal of helping as many small businesses as possible.  So what does this have to do with asking for referrals?

The easiest way to ask for referrals is to think about your best possible strategic partnerships and create a game plan for how you can add value to their audience and in return gain exposure (Hint, hint: Coming back to the idea of collaboration here).  What types of content would their audiences be interested in reading?  What live events would their audience spare time in their busy day to attend?  Below are four easy steps to creating your strategic partner referral plan.

Create list of possible strategic partners

It is time to start brainstorming.  Sit down with your team members and create a list of potential strategic partners using the B2B or B2C checklists.  Is there a local bank with a small business audience?  What about a Real Estate agent out there networking with your potential clients on a daily basis?  Or a graphic designer working in your niche?  Simply creating this list is the first step, coming up with how to target these possible partners is next.

Co-brand educational content

Now that you have your giant list of possible partners, it is time to narrow it down a bit to your best possible opportunities.  I would recommend starting with a list of your top five partners to target and then expand from there if needed. Once you have your top 5, audit your current and future content plans with your focused list in mind.  What eBooks, workshops, videos would the other businesses want to share with their audience and therefore introduce you?  Once you have “X company” and “X content” in mind, it is time to reach out and see if the potential partner would be interested in sharing the valuable content with their audience with the idea that they could co-brand the content.  The gift to their audience is valuable education, the gift to you is exposure.

Get in front of a live audience

Speaking for leads is one of the most effective ways to get your message out there.  One example of how a Duct Tape Marketing consultant speaks for leads is holding a 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success Workshop for an audience of small business owners.  A great opportunity here would be partnering with a local bank, lawyer, and insurance agent and having them invite their client base to an educational workshop.  The consultant then provides value to their client’s while also establishing themselves as an expert at a live event.  Another win-win in the books.

Come up with a follow-up plan

You have created your list, produced co-branded content, and spoken in front of a strategic partner audience – your job is done right?  Nope – it’s just getting started.  The main goal here is to add value. However, the 2nd goal is to gain exposure for your business.  Before you partner with a company, make sure to have set guidelines for follow-up in place.  Will you get the names and emails of the people that downloaded your ebook to target them directly?  Will you get to add a sales pitch at the end of your presentation?  After you agree on the process, think of the follow-up as another opportunity to add value.  Don’t simply send off an email asking if they are ready to sign up for your services.  Instead, follow up with an eBook or checklist where they can learn even more about your topic and by they way introduce the ways you could help them implement.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Referrals.

Sara JantschSara Jantsch is the Vice President of Operations at Duct Tape Marketing.  She oversees day-to-day operations to support the growth of Duct Tape Marketing and the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.  She focuses on strategic planning, goal setting and directing the operations of the company in support of its goals.  Sara is also a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and has a very strong passion for working with small business owners that started back at the dinner table as a child. Connect with Sara on twitter.

3 Earning Referrals Takes More Than Luck

With the madness of the annual NCAA tournament upon us and St. Patrick’s Day behind us, there’s a lot of talk about luck. The luck of the Irish or that team was lucky to pull off the upset. Some of you may be thinking you could use some of that luck in your business for turning your current customer base into a steady stream of referrals.

The bad news is that whether or not you believe in it, luck it is hard to create. You also can’t just go to a store and buy a bottle of luck or a program to make yourself and your business lucky.

The good news is that you don’t need luck to get more referrals, what you need is just a bit of hard work and focus on your customers.

Referrals are the culmination of your customer’s experience with your business. They are the reward for completing the customer journey, and doing it in a way that surprises and impresses them to the point that they recommend that experience to their family and friends.

But here’s what is most important about referrals: people want to refer you. They want to be wowed by your company, and they can’t wait to tell everyone about it. It is your job to take advantage of this by meeting and exceeding their expectations.

Here are some ways you can increase referrals for your business:

1) Take Time to Educate Potential Customers

In order to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations, you must first make sure they are reasonable. Take the time to educate your customers about your product or service, and don’t rush them into buying it. If your customer knows exactly what they are buying, their expectations of what you will deliver are realistic.

2) Surprise Your Customers and Show Gratitude

Now that your customers have a clear expectation of your product or service, you can now take an opportunity to surprise them. Give them something extra, whether it be a promotion or a gift, which they aren’t expecting. It can be something as simple as a short personal letter to your customers or, as Sara describes here, you can send them a loaded new customer kit.

It is also important to make sure your customers know you appreciate their patronage. Go out of your way to thank your customers, and try to add as much of a personal touch as possible. The “Thank you!” at the end of an invoice is expected, but a Holiday card from you or your whole team still carries a lot of weight.

3) Resolve Issues and Welcome Feedback

In college, I spent a fair amount of time waiting tables, as I’m sure many of us have. One of the main lessons I will take away from that time is that people are willing to recognize that things don’t always go as planned. Whenever there was an issue with food or the environment or the wait times, I worked hard to resolve those issues as quickly as possible. Customers in those situations often tipped better than most, because they recognized and rewarded those efforts.

To bring that same principle to business, work with your customers to resolve any issues that may arise during the customer journey, and ask for feedback on how to improve. If you take their feedback seriously, they are more likely to refer your business. Just because something goes wrong doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost their referral.

4) Ask for a Referral

Too few businesses ask for referrals at the end of their customer journey. I don’t know if businesses feel like they are asking too much, or if asking somehow cheapens the referral. But because we know people want to refer your business, you should give them an opportunity to do so. Digital media has made this so much easier because your customers no longer need to be in the same room as their friends and family to refer you.

You’ll want to make this as easy as possible, or even give them an added benefit. Offer a gift or discount for a positive Yelp review or Facebook post, or use a tool like Get Five Stars to increase your reviews.

Just remember: you have to be constantly working to earn referrals. Luck has nothing to do with it.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

5 Is Networking a Waste of Time?

Marketing podcast with Derek Coburn

The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this post is – maybe.

always be connecting

photo credit: dgray_xplane via photopin cc

Networking is actually one of the most powerful strategic activities you can engage in if you do it right. In fact, when people ask me what they should do to market their business when they are just getting started I tell them to start networking.

However, I don’t simply mean print off a bunch of business cards and head out to the next wine and cheese Chamber event and start passing out your new cards.

Effective networking today has taken on a vastly different look but one thing has not changed – networking is not about selling, it’s about connecting people.

Technology, social networks and our propensity to turn online for every need have greatly expanded the elements of networking but connecting is, and I suggest always will be, at the core.

Today networking is the richest source of organic backlinks that still drive SEO. Today networking is building stakeholder maps as a way to shorten sales cycles. Today networking is how you make yourself more valuable to your existing clients.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Derek Coburn. He and his wife Melanie have created a unique network in Washington DC called cadre. The network is based on the idea of people connecting people rather than people promoting themselves.

[Tweet “The ironic thing about focusing on connecting rather than selling is that it’s a crazy powerful way to sell.”]

You know of course the ironic thing about this idea of focusing on connecting and adding value rather than selling is that it’s a crazy powerful way to sell.

Derek is also the author of Networking Is Not Working: Stop Collecting Business Cards and Start Making Meaningful Connections, the best book I’ve read on the idea of connecting.

As he shares in our interview this book and his Cadre community were born out of frustration with having spent thousands of fruitless hours attending traditional networking events. Coburn’s book offers fresh, effective, unconventional strategies for growing and nurturing a powerful network. These strategies grew Coburn’s revenue by 300% in just 18 months and can have a major impact on your business.

Some of the most ideas contained in the book include:

  • How to become the Ultimate Connector
  • How to become the Ultimate Resource
  • How to identify and develop relationships with world-class professionals
  • How to enhance the value you deliver for your best clients
  • How to position yourself for more quality introductions to ideal prospective clients

Connecting is the master skill no matter if you are a salesperson, business owner or someone starting a career.

6 The Number One Mistake People Make When It Comes To Referral Marketing

Marketing podcast with Bill Cates

Subscribe now via iTunes

Everyone loves referrals, but let’s face it – the real point of a referral is a customer. If you’re getting plenty of referrals, but few are turning into new clients, it’s time to change a few things about your approach to referrals.

referral introduction

photo credit: Jeremy Wilburn via photopin cc

The number one mistake people make in the business of referral generation is to ask for leads or referrals when they should be asking for introductions.

So many people seek referrals by simply asking clients, or anyone that will listen, if they know anybody who needs what they do. If the referral source can come up with a few names we’re often tickled to have some new “leads” to go chase.

But, what do we really have? Something less than cold call – maybe. Sure, we can name drop, “Bob said I should call you.” But, we’ve all been on the other end of that call and know how that usually ends up.

If you want to make referral generation a significant part of your marketing success you need to start asking for introductions and not simply a list of names. You need to build the trust and leverage that would allow you to ask a client to introduce you to three others that could benefit from the value you bring.

In this week’s episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visit with Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now and the upcoming Beyond Referrals. Bill has spent many years coaching financial professionals on the fine art of authentic referral generation and in this segment he shares some well tested tactics.

The key to generating introductions is to make it as easy as possible for your referral source to do so. Offer a list of specific prospects you would like to meet and see if they know anyone on the list. Offer to host an informal educational workshop and allow your best customers to bring a friend or two. Take a handful of customers to lunch and ask them each to bring a guest.

Cates mentions a former client that would ask his clients to introduce him to two colleagues who would take his call just because they asked them to.

Getting your customers or contacts to rise to the level of engagement required to make introductions or bring a friend to lunch requires a level of value that few can muster. This is the key to making this idea work. You must bring value to every interaction, conversation and setting.

When you can do this, people will gladly introduce you to others. When you change the context of a referral to that of an introduction you automatically raise the stakes for all parties and that’s the place where you can do your magic.