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Making Your Business Referral Friendly

Making Your Business “Referral Friendly”

There is a widespread belief that if you provide a great product or service to your clients, referrals will start pouring in. And this is partially true.

Without a great product or service, you most certainly will not get any referrals. And the fact is that referral marketing is so powerful that it will work a little even if you do absolutely nothing but do right by your customers.

However, to truly unleash the full power of referral marketing, you need to spend some time and money to make your business “Referral friendly.”
In order for a referral to happen, typically three things need to happen.

• Step 1 It requires a customer experience that creates the desire to refer;
• Step 2 An outside force must prompt the referral; and

• Step 3 The Referral loop must get closed.

Step 1 is the most obvious and most frequently used. This step generates referrals because people love telling other people about great experiences (but don’t forget that the only thing people love to talk about more is a bad experience!) So if you provide great service, you will get referrals. Wonderful!
Many people are totally satisfied with the business generated using Step 1. They get some word of mouth business, which makes them feel like they are doing something right, and then they stop. However, research suggests that by not implementing strategies for Step 2 and 3, they are missing 80-90% of the potential referrals available to them.

For example, if you want to double your referral business, Prompt The Referral.

Think about it this way. While people like talking about great experiences, they don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers about it. Typically, talking about a great experience requires some sort of external prompt like someone mentioning that they are thinking about buying a house or a car, or that they are looking for a new doctor or insurance policy. So the question you should ask yourself is how do you make these prompts happen? There are a number of strategies you can use. The most efficient is to ask your existing clients for the names and contact information of people they know that might like to receive useful information from time to time.

You can easily do this by touching base with your Referral Circle (people who know you, like you and know what you do.) How? Send them an email survey. Drop postcards into the mail. Or ask them next time you see them.
But make sure that however you contact them, you give them a specific way to provide you with contact information. These instructions should be quick and painless to execute – nothing lengthy or complicated.

Once you have the names and contact information, put these people on automated mailing lists and start feeding them useful information such as something they can use to improve their lives, or make a more informed decision. Note this is not a sales pitch! These people are not ready for that – and will instantly tune you out (now and later) if you try to sell them right off of the bat. First you need to build credibility and trust.

You also need to trigger the “referral response.” It is a proven psychological fact that most people instinctively want to help people that help them. So if you provide them with useful information, or items that save them time, money or effort, they will feel a sense of obligation. This should predispose them to be helpful to you in your business.

This brings us to Step 3 – Closing The Referral Loop.

The simple truth is that if someone is seriously looking at purchasing a product or service – and they are not already a loyal customer of yours – they are going to be looking to multiple sources of information.

As an example, if someone starts to think about buying a house, it is likely that they are going to ask a number of people they trust for ideas on real estate agents. If they are thinking about adding an insurance policy, they will start asking who people use for their insurance needs.

In many cases, each of these sources of input will mention a name or company as a great way to go. But in the vast majority of these cases, this is all they will do. So who is going to get the business?

Amazingly enough, the potential client will contact whomever is easiest to contact. In other words, given a list of ten names, they will only contact the ones for which they have a phone number or email address. Those with just a name and company will not get called. So the key is to provide your Referral Circle with contact information that is easy to pass out in all situations. This requires it be in paper and digital form, in people’s cars as well as their houses. Best of all is if you can make your contact information so easy to remember that they have it in their head at all times (this is why catchy phone numbers are so effective.)

If you are one of those people who is generating new business because of your high level of service or high quality of product, I congratulate you! This is business well earned. However, if you want to see your referral’s skyrocket, take the time to implement the final two steps of the referral process.
It is well worth the investment.

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About the Author

Kadie O'Connor, Referral Marketing Solutions
20 S. Hankes Rd
Aurora, IL 60506

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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