What portion of your business currently comes from referrals? While it is widely known that referrals are essential for growth and vitality, few businesses have a systematic approach to getting more of them. That is why I was so excited to read John Jantsch’s new book, The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself. Going beyond tips and tricks, Jantsch gets at the heart of what it takes to be a highly referable business. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:
Start with a referral mind-set. When you have the goal and expectation of getting more referrals, it changes how you do things. Instead of just being as good as the competition, or only slightly better, you set a goal for yourself of being “remarkable.” Otherwise, no one is going to be excited about it—maybe not even you. According to Jantsch you have work to make sure that the “core difference you offer” makes people stop and take notice.
Create a referral strategy. This starts from the very beginning of the relationship by setting up the expectation that the client is going to be so delighted by what you have to offer that they are going to be compelled to tell other people about your business. It might sound self-serving but you can make this easier for customers by taking the time to identify—during and after the service—the progress and how the customer is getting exactly what they asked for.
Don’t forget to ask. Once the service is complete, there is a natural point where the customer is expressing how much they like the finished product. This is the perfect time to ask for referral. Don’t be afraid to be specific. Explain to them what kind of customer you are looking for and even how they can recognize “triggers” that signal a perfect time to make a referral. I experienced this recently while I was checking out at an Aveda Concept store. I complimented a salesperson on his hair and without missing a beat he said, “Thanks, I get my hair cut at Adore Salon in Oceanside with Raelynn. She is great. Here’s her card.” I was impressed. That was a well-executed referral based on the trigger of my compliment.
Being successful in getting more referrals is a great, cost-effective way to generate more business. John Jantsch’s The Referral Engine is a great resource for getting started. Tap into the power of positive word-of-mouth. Get your customers excited about your product or service and help them help you spread the word. (And if Small Biz Marketing Blog is something you’re excited about, please be sure to point others to www.robinwitt.com or to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org !)