Growing your business requires grit, business know-how, and of course, new clients. Many businesses will acquire new clients by advertising in a local magazine or on TV. However, referrals, or word-of-mouth customers, are the best types of clients to get. A person who knows you has recommended your business to someone else. These warm connections are easy to approach. They also often turn into the best customers.
Here are some tools you can use to increase your referrals and grow your business.
1. Get Educated
Many professionals, especially self-employed professionals like doctors and lawyers, have only really trained for their actual work, meaning they know how to be doctors or lawyers, not marketers. While these business owners should always be reading about more efficient ways to get referrals, more intense training programs, like the retreats spearheaded by The Rainmaker Institute, may be helpful. These events are dedicated weekends away in places like Las Vegas or Fort Lauderdale.
While the destinations are fun, their purpose is purely business training. They teach participants how to market their businesses better, including getting referrals. If you participate in something like this make the most of the retreat by being prepared to do coursework as well as to network. You’ll meet a lot of potential clients in these business-specific settings.
2. Set a Time Limit
The best time to ask for a referral from a customer is often when that person stands right in front of us. However, even the most enthusiastic customer may procrastinate when it comes to sending referrals your way. To combat this, Forbes suggests offering a referral bonus, but putting a time limit it. Your referral bonus can be a gift, money off another purchase, or some other enticement. If you do this, make sure your bonus is valuable enough to merit the referral.
3. Do Them a Favor
Sometimes, most of the time in fact, business owners feel reluctant to ask clients for referrals. In all fairness, many clients feel reluctant to do that as well. If this is the case, do something for that client instead. For example, you might try creating a helpful booklet that answers legal questions or offers some insight into hiring better employees. You pass the booklet on to the client who, in turn, passes it on to friends and family. The key here is to create useful content that merits a referral.
4. Use Social Media
LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for people interested in making business connections. Unlike other types of social media, LinkedIn users understand that at some point, their connections may reach out to them for business purposes. This makes it an ideal platform for referrals. You can get referrals from this social network in a couple of ways. You can check out your connections’ connections and send a request. You can also participate in groups. Both of these types of connections offer you the opportunity to get referrals once you get to know people.
Referrals take advantage of the strongest form of advertising there is, word-of-mouth. Some of your clients won’t mind if you ask for referrals directly. However, some will feel a bit reluctant to participate in a referral program. For the best results, you should use both kinds of referral methods to help your business grow.