If you were buy a new automobile or mobile phone and a trusted friend mentioned that a particular make you were interested in purchasing had faults but another model was much, much better, if you are like me you would sit up and take notice. This is because consumers trust their friends, family, influencers and authority figures to make recommendations about products and services to them, in addition there are many ways to make recommendations. These could take the form of a testimonial, an affiliate link, a referral, a direct mention from customers, they all work to some degree.
To encourage your customers to provide you with an endless stream of referrals, you can take some steps in advance that sets everything up to turn your best customers into your biggest business assets.
Be the Best You Can Be
The better you do your job, the more pride with which your customers can recommend you to others. If you provide excellent products, services, and customer support your customers will be happy to provide referrals when asked to do so.
Ask Customers to Refer You
Develop a company referral script, that everyone in your company will use, something along the lines of “my business is expanding and I’m looking for customers like you who could benefit from our products / services, who do you know that you could recommend?”… Pause and wait for names and details… “Would you mind if I used your name, when talking to this person or better still could you introduce us? Pause and wait for an answer….
By developing your own referral script and using it whenever you complete a project you will maximize the referrals given to you. It’s also a great idea to give customers some literature and information about your offerings so that they can easily share with others.
Create an Active Online Community
Using either a message board, forum, private Facebook group, or even your newsletter it is possible to create a community that can help spread the word about your great services and products.
Build Long Term Relationships
Focus on relationship building over the long term and never risk a relationship to make a quick profit. By doing so you will create true raving fans that are eager to recommend your business. By developing real relationships with people, you’re creating fans that are much more likely to tell others about you.
Create a Formal Referral Program
Offer discounts to friends and family recommended by existing customers, along with a coupon of some sort (gift voucher) to the one who gave the referral. With a formal referral program you should let every customer know about it as soon as they become full customers.
Use Social Media
Offer a coupon code for consumers “liking” or “following” your brand on social media, and encourage them to share. Offering sign-up incentives for newsletters and more always helps get the word out about your services.
Market Your Testimonials
When someone gives you a raving testimonial, turn it into a meme, ask for a recording, put it into many formats and then publish it and market it across all channels. Market your testimonials as you could other types of content. Oh, and don’t hide your testimonials on a testimonial page, spread them around your website for maximum benefit.
The money is always in the follow up, so always follow up with customers who have provided referrals to you by offering them a discount, a thank you note, and acknowledgement. The more you follow up after a positive referral, the more likely they will be, to continue doing it.
Word of mouth referrals are more than fifty percent more effective than any other forms of marketing. If you want to develop a long term business, the best way to ensure that it really is a long term business is to encourage word of mouth marketing in every way that you possibly can.
Many business owners find after years of being in business that most of their customers come from word of mouth marketing, which lessens the need to expend more time, money and effort on other forms of marketing.