According the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), 90% of small businesses use word-of-mouth referrals to attract new business, and 59% of Americans make buying decisions based on referrals. So what are you doing to make sure that your current clients are telling their friends, family and associates how great you are?
If you want more business, you need to foster referrals. They don’t happen automatically. Fortunately, there are several proven ways that can help you build a referral machine inside of your business.
Get out of your own head.
A lot of small business owners avoid asking for referrals because they feel too sheepish to ask. Asking for a referral isn’t being pushy or “salesy.” It’s a natural part of growing your business, and your happy clients will be thrilled to spread the word about your services. Get out of your own head and focus on the end results.
Ask right away.
You just finished a contracting job for a brand new client and they are thrilled with the results. The time to ask for a referral is right now – and not six months down the line when the glow of your awesomeness has faded. Asking for referrals should be a regular part of closing each project or finishing a job for a client. Integrate it into your normal project or job closing process.
Experiment with different phrasing.
You don’t have to say, “Do you know anyone else who might benefit from my service?” in order to get referrals. Try getting specific so your customers know who to refer your way. You can ask “Do you know of anyone who has similar issues that you experienced, which I can help with?” or “Who do you know that might need to solve this type of problem too?” If you’re looking for homeowners, single moms or executives, be sure that you specify that in your referral request as well. Make it easy for your customers to send people your way.
Add requests to your emails, invoices and other documents
Always ask for a referral directly – but make use of text to send gentle reminders to your client base. Your email signature line, invoices and other documents you send to customers can have a brief statement that encourages referrals. For example, “I’m never too busy for any of your referrals” or “If you love our work, your friends will too!” can serve as a reminder to customers that you open for referrals.
Express your thanks.
Ask every customer who comes your way how they heard about your business – and thank the referral. Send something nice to the people who have referred your company. You don’t have to break the bank to say thanks. While everyone would appreciate a $20 gift card to Starbucks, a handwritten thank you note can be just as meaningful.
Referrals can have an amazing impact on your business – if you don’t sit around waiting for them to happen. Use these steps to create a referral machine within your business and watch the new customers stream in based on word of mouth.
Tobi North – Creativity rock star and marketing master
I enjoy being innovative and creating communications that customers can relate to. I am always looking for that “light bulb” moment, when I find an interesting topic that I know our customers will love to learn more about. In between creative brainstorming sessions, you can probably find me at a concert or searching for the best BBQ joint in town. .