Image Credit: Axel Bührmann

Marketing your business is hard work but there are several methods that you can use which are simpler and less time consuming. The most powerful form of marketing is ‘word of mouth’ but you have to proactively encourage it. The critical element is to make sure that your services and products are of such great value that people will not hesitate to refer you when you ask them.

Here are a few practical ideas on how to generate referrals for your business:

  1. Set up a referral program with other businesses in your area or industry that are complimentary to yours. For instance if you run a coffee shop, make an arrangement with the local book store in your area to give each of their customers a free coffee in exchange for spending a certain amount. You could offer your customers a 10% discount on all books at the local book store in exchange for a meal. Only partner with companies you would feel comfortable recommending to your clients or best friends.
  1. When someone refers a client to your business remember to thank them, either via email, a hand written note or a short personal phone call. They will remember the courtesy and be more inclined to refer more people to your business in the future.
  1. Include a “Referrals Appreciated” comment in your print or email newsletter. Describe what an ideal referral looks like in a few short sentences.
  1. Include a request in your email newsletter: “If you got value from this article, please share it with your network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).” Add social media icons and links that make it easy to share your content.
  1. Add the comment “Referrals Appreciated” to the bottom of your email signature.
  1. Add a “Referrals appreciated” tagline or “By Referral Only” to your business card.
  1. Educate your customers about the services you offer so they can either refer you within their company or to other people that they know. Don’t assume that your clients know all the services and products you can provide.
  1. Add a link to a ‘Email this to a friend” form on your website on any content that you think would be useful for referrals.
  1. Be proactive in referring people to other businesses that have a client base similar to yours. Make sure to let those businesses know you’ve done that. The simplest way would be to simply copy them in on the mail you have sent their prospective client. Then drop them a separate email and just give them a heads up on the client that may contact them. Mention discretely that you would appreciate any referrals as well.
  1. Do a joint venture with other businesses that offer complementary services. Use each other’s customer databases to advertise and promote each other’s services. Use companies that you trust otherwise you could disappoint your existing client base.
  1. Share information freely. Create a pdf report that will help your customers with a particular and allow them to share it with their friends and colleagues. Remember to have all your contact details clearly visible in the report so that people can find your website easily or contact you via email or telephone. You can see an example of it here on our website where we give away a free report.

6 Content Marketing Mistakes you're makingClick on image to download

  1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and provides clear information as to the services and products your business offers. Include the link to your profile on LinkedIn (and other social media accounts) in your email newsletter or website to make it easy for people to share.
  1. Create a referral program for existing clients where they can receive some form of reward or recognition for any new business they refer to you. For example, create a special referral business card that gives 30%% off to the person who received it, and a 20% discount off to the customer that gave it away. It creates a win/win situation for everyone.
  1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Reach out to your offline and online network and ask them if they would be prepared to refer you or share a piece of content you have created that may be of value to their network. Remember to ask your followers to share the information if they found it useful. You can do this professionally without sounding desperate.

These are just a few ideas. You know your business better than anyone else. What other ways could you come up with to get referrals to your business?

Oh, and could you please share this post if you found it useful?

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Here’s to your successful referrals.

Diana Heuser

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