Welcome to the kitchen of ReferralHero, where our secret ingredients for marketing success are simmering and sizzling. From spicy social media strategies to flavorful referrals, we’ve got all the recipes for a mouth-watering and profitable business. Crack open the spices and let’s get cooking!
Imagine you’re walking around the trendy restaurant area of your city. There’s tons of flashy signs and bold, modern names of restaurants, most of which you’ve never heard of in your life. Eventually you narrow it down to two options for your night out.
The first is one you’ve seen advertised on social media with big, bold claims and fancy branding. The other is one your best friend has been raving about. Which are you going to choose?
The fact is, 92% of people are far more likely to trust word-of-mouth recommendations than any other form of advertising. With those kinds of results, it would be ridiculous to let this kind of marketing fall to the wayside.
However, when it comes to actually getting those referrals, lots of advice starts and ends with “ask for it.” While asking for referrals can be highly effective, it’s not the only way to make an impact.
Let’s take a look at ten ways you can start bringing in referrals, without having to ask for them again and again.
Tip One: Don’t Beat the Bush
One of the biggest challenges with asking for referrals point-blank is that it asks your clients to stick their own neck out for your company. While you’re obviously more than worth the perceived risk, this can be off putting and may even come off as annoying.
Instead, consider beating around the proverbial bush and letting customers think the referral was their own idea. There are tons of ways to do this, including
- Soft Suggestions - Build into your marketing and sales material how much your business relies on and appreciates referrals
- Ask For Advice - By allowing your clients to feel like a part of your process, you can build partnerships and even grow brand loyalty
- Leading Questions - As you provide solutions for your clients, slip in a question or two about their colleagues and friends to see if they have similar issues that could be solved with your help
Rather than asking your top clients for referrals outright, these strategies allow you to gently guide them toward a referral.
Tip Two: Tit For Tat
If clients think of you simply as a company they pay for goods and services, then once they leave interactions with you they will forget about you until they need you again. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you won’t be top of mind when their friend laments a problem you could easily solve.
Rather than cultivating a cold, calculated, strictly business relationship, become a trusted source in your clients lives. An easy way to start building this reputation is to offer referrals of your own.
Whenever something comes up in conversation that is outside the purview of your company, point clients toward other solutions. This shows that you are on their team and want to help them thrive no matter what.
As soon as you’ve established yourself as a partner in their success, they’ll be thinking of you long after they’ve logged off for the day.
Tip Three: Fresh Faced Finders
When I find a new TV show that I love, my friends hear all about it for weeks. I may not enjoy it as much as the media that has been with me for years, but its newness necessitates more active sharing.
The same can be said for the businesses we engage with. I’m far more likely to recommend a new app I just started to use than the ones that have been dominating my screen time for my entire adult life. Your clients likely feel the same.
This means that focusing your discreet referral energy on new clients will reap more rewards, because you’re already top-of-mind by being fresh.
Tip Four: Carrot Farming
There are few things more motivating than a carrot. Well, in the metaphorical sense at least. Studies show again and again that one of the most effective ways to get people to refer your company is by offering them a reward or gift.
There are lots of options for types of rewards, but the most important thing to keep in mind is what will add value to your specific customers’ lives. Choose something that gets them excited, and encourages them to send even more referrals your way.
Lots of times these rewards are a part of a larger referral program, but they can be just as effective - if not more effective - when they are a surprise for unprompted referrals.
Tip Five: Parsing Words
The specific wording we use when speaking with clients can mean the difference between receiving a list of random emails and getting actual, valuable referrals. Simply finding out who your clients know still leaves a lot of the work for you and your marketing team, and eliminates the real value of having social proof from a friend or coworker.
If you’ve gotten far enough into a conversation to ask a client if they have any potential leads, try asking them if there’s anyone they like, or anyone they recommend. This will narrow down the list they give you and encourage them to do the legwork of connecting you to valuable leads.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can simply ask your client to make the connection, essentially garnering a referral without having to say the word.
Tip Six: Value For The Village
Part of the fear that keeps clients from bringing in referrals comes from the idea that they won’t have anything valuable to offer their friends. Coming off as though they’re reciting a sales pitch can scare away their relationships and put them in an awkward position.
Make sharing easy by giving your clients something of value to pass along. An ebook with helpful information, an article or video about something your company excels at, or a free tool that can be passed along will be way easier to give than some ad copy.
Asking your clients to pass along these valuable assets will not only get your company in front of new people, but will allow your clients to feel like they are doing others a favour.
Tip Seven: Mutually Assured Satisfaction
To continue riffing on the idea of adding value, offering a two-pronged reward for referrals boost this feeling even more.
A great example of this is offering a discount to both parties upon referral. Not only does your existing client get a reward, they also feel like they helped out their friend by getting them your great product for less.
This shift in perspective allows your customers to jump over the hurdle of feeling like a nuisance. Rather than asking them for a referral, you’re asking them to pass along a gift to their friends.
Tip Eight: The Nicest Brand In Town
The fastest way to get natural referrals without parsing words and beating around the bush is by providing exceptional customer service. Your brand is spectacular, obviously, and when you ensure that customers can see that at every opportunity, they won’t be able to stop themselves from sharing with their friends.
Ensure every single interaction with customers from start to finish is top-of-the-line and on brand. With this attention to detail, you’ll be the talk of the town in no time.
Tip Nine: Start At The Source
Similar to having top-notch customer service, having an exceptional or innovative product or service will help grow referrals from the ground up. If you want people to talk, give them something to talk about!
Looking for ways to innovate, and even bringing customers into that process, can boost your brand recognition, customer loyalty, and, of course, bring in countless referrals because you’re offering something people can’t get anywhere else.
Tip Ten: Pairing Off
Let’s be honest, you aren’t the only company looking for referrals. This is true even within your own niche. Joining up with complimentary businesses for referral programs can bring value not only to you but to your referral partner as well.
By branching out your referral program in new and creative ways, you’ll gain access to all sorts of new demographics that may have otherwise stayed out of your reach. If you find a fun and creative way to do this like a colab or contest, you’ll create tons of organic buzz, and show that your company values community.
The Bottom Line
It’s impossible to overstate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. The trust and credibility that comes with a personal recommendation is unmatched, but getting those recommendations out of clients can feel like an uphill battle.
By taking the time to cultivate more natural referrals through exceptional service, specific asks, and building community with your clients, you can start harnessing this power to grow your business with ease.
If you want to take your referrals to the next level, and make these conversations even easier, check out ReferralHero. With endless resources and software that makes tracking referrals easier than ever, we allow you to focus on the thing that matters, connecting with your clients and building enough trust to get them talking.
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In just 14 days, we help you build the same waitlist, contest, or referral program used to launch and scale Airbnb, Uber, PayPal, and 1000s of other businesses. Start your ReferralHero free trial today.