Despite the age of technology and the internet, word of mouth is still considered to be the best way to build a business from the ground up. There are many reasons for this:
Why Referrals are so Potent for Business
Referrals are the secret ingredients of a great marketing strategy this is mainly because they’re organic and they are built on trust.
When you are referred by a previous client, most of the leg work is done, you rarely have to sell yourself as your previous client’s satisfaction is enough proof for the referred.
You could spend thousands on advertising yet never quite instil the same amount of confidence that comes from word of mouth.
Along with generating new relationships with clients, a referral also cements the bond between you and the client who has referred you, enhancing loyalty and making it almost certain that the referrer will continue to use you.
You’re also, quite unfairly, passing some of the responsibility to the referrer; if a relationship doesn’t work with a new client, they are more likely to blame your client for their poor judgement rather than you. Although this isn’t a positive side of referring for many clients it is indicative of the sheer amount of power behind a professional recommendation.
Where Do Referrals Come From?
Word of mouth endorsements can be hard to trace as those that are the most potent are often made offline, via conversations. For these types of referrals you can of course offer some incentive for your clients to recommend you to others but the best way to ensure your clients recommend you is to leave them impressed with your services. Always going beyond the book is a sure fire way to encourage others to become your mini ambassadors.
Other, more tentative referrals generally come from the written word online, a previous client may write you a testimonial or recommendation that is then picked up by an interested party. Usually, social media or business directories are the portal for such referrals and these you can monitor, enhance and maximise for full marketing potential.
How to Get More Referrals
The easiest way to boost your number of referrals is to ask. Get in touch with previous clients and ask them to fill in a recommendation online. You can also offer an incentive such as a percentage from their costs if they refer people that become your clients as a result.
It’s a practice that will not only boost your reputation and bring you more custom but it can also improve your current client relationships. If you resist the urge to send a generic email to all you can use this connection as an opportunity to reconnect with your clients, to remind them of your services and to, once again, thank them for their business.
Trust Always Trumps Cheap Talk
In business, especially online, trust will always trump any other marketing tactic. No matter how persuasive your sales patter, how proficient your skills, building loyal relationships will always pay dividends, and when handled correctly, those dividends are evergreen.