Where did your last new customer come from? How about the one before that? If you didn’t say “a referral,” then you could be missing out on a hidden stash of possible new business from satisfied customers. An impressive 65 percent of new business comes from referrals, so you’d better have your referral marketing tactics well-defined and in action to grab your share.
Here are some basics to remember:
1. It’s OK To Ask
The golden rule of referrals: It never hurts to ask—especially when a customer has had a good experience with your business. Most customers are happy to refer your business to others, but they may forget as soon as they hang up the phone. As soon as you’ve completed the transaction, ask them to recommend your business to their friends, family and business peers. You can also send out a follow-up email to thank them for their business and politely request referrals.
Likewise, most people are now familiar with review sites like Yelp! but that doesn’t mean they’ll remember to give you a positive review. Include a link in your email to your Yelp page (and all of your other social media pages) to make it easy for your customers to sing your praises. Just keep in mind Yelp! and other online review sites have strict no soliciting rules, so be careful to keep up with the latest information from those types of websites.
2. Business Cards Still Work
Include several of your business cards when you send satisfied customers an invoice at the end of a project. Giving your customers some business cards they can hand out to others is a great way to streamline the referral process.
3. Share and Share Alike
If your customers are business owners, don’t forget to refer your customers’ businesses to people who could use their services. By doing this, they’re more likely to refer your business as a thank you. You can also leave positive online reviews and share info about your clients’ businesses on social media to help them get referrals.
Stay in touch with the clients you rarely see by sending an occasional email, e-newsletter or mobile message (with their permission, of course). This is just a simple reminder that you are still around.
5. Make It Worthwhile
Consider offering a discount or other promotion if a referral turns into a paying client or if your loyal customers share your email with 10 friends. Whatever the incentive, make sure your clients know you appreciate their referrals.
You can base a lot of your business on referrals, so don't underestimate their power. Utilize this powerful tool, and you may be surprised how well it will work.
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