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August 17, 2005
Be Easy To Refer
People do like to make referrals. The problem often though is like everything in life, the squeakly wheel is using up all of their grease. So, instead of just squeaking louder yourself, give them some more grease.
Create a whole series of referral tools and put them in the hands of those you know can best refer you to others.
Here are some of my favorite examples
- Mail a personal letter and enclosed a "proposed letter of referral" that simply needs to be copied onto their letterhead.
- Send four referral type postcards, already stamped and ready for them to send
- Send them a supply of business cards
- A supply of pens with your company logo
- A list of names or target prospects
You get the idea - be easy to refer and you will be the provider of choice when the referral moment arises.
A CPA and reader of mine, MaryAnn Soukup, developed a little mini brochure with a tear off business card for this purpose - What a great little inexpensive marketing piece!
This is the type of tactic you will find throughout Referral Flood
August 12, 2005
Turn Blah Advertising Into Referral Advertising
If you provide a service for homeowners or call on businesses located in office buildings this tip will give you a way to turn an advertising message into a referral message.
When your service technician visits a home to do some repair work, incentivize them to hang some door hangers on surrounding homes. Now, of course, everyone does that right? Well, the key to making this work is to also leave a space on the door hanger for the technician to write a note. "We just completed some work for Ted and Betty at 1933 and they thought you would like this 10% off coupon." - all of a sudden you've got a referral.
You can also fire this approach up through the mail. Get a criss-cross directory that lists homeowners by street and every time you schedule some work, send a letter to surrounding neighbors with this same coupon type message. Better still, give Ted and Betty a 10% discount and quote them singing your praises in the letter.
You can take this same approach in office building. "Hi, I was just upgrading Acme Accounting's network and they thought you could use this 10% off coupon."
Put your printer to use creating all kinds of these leave behinds but make sure that you make space to turn them into referrals.
July 19, 2005
What If Your Guarantee Was Astonishing?
The use of a guarantee as a way to reduce a potential buyer's risk has long been employed by savvy marketing people.
In some circles, a guarantee has become a required aspect of the sales process.
But, what if you did more. What if you created a guarantee that did far more than simply warranty satisfaction or guarantee "risk-free" shopping.
What if you created a guarantee that was astonishing?
What's an astonishing guarantee? It's one that makes you nervous - and that's the point.
If you could create and communicate a guarantee that nobody in your industry would even consider, you would automatically have two very powerful things going for you.
- A core marketing message that would differentiate you from your competition
- A forced focus on delivering excellence and winning loyal, repeat customers
An astonishing guarantee turns heads - "Try our service for 90 days and if we don't perform exactly as promised we will double your money back."
An astonishing guarantee generates buzz - "They promised what?"
An astonishing guarantee creates a mission - "Okay, troops, there's only one job - happy clients - What needs fixing?"
What could you promise that no one else would dream of? That's the start of an astonishing guarantee.
July 16, 2005
Laserfit, an Austrualian men's customer tailor and Referral Flood owner, had this to say recently about generating referrals.
"As yet I have not got my system together but I have started by setting the expectation that our customers refer us to their friends and colleagues if they are happy. If they agree, we offer them a bonus on their first purchase. I have been really surprised at how enthusiastic these customers become when they have 'skin in the game.' "
Laserfit is doing some pretty creative marketing, including using a blog that allows clients and prospects to see what they are up to in the world of marketing. What I really want to emphasize though, is the comment about enthusiastic customers. One of the great motivators of all human beings is winning, or at least attempting to win. If you can create a referral system, or really any marketing offer, that allows people to see themselves playing and winning a game, they may become motivated beyond your wildest expectations.
July 12, 2005
What Would Motivate You To Refer Me?
I have studied the idea of referral marketing for years and, when designing a referral marketing system, it almost always comes down to answering this simple question.
What would motivate someone to refer you? The good news is - the answer is always the same. The bad news - designing a system that gets at this answer can be tricky.
So, the answer. People refer businesses, services, products, people, movies, barbers - you name it - if it makes them look and feel good. That's the answer 90% of the time. (Some do it to be nice, but you can't really build a business counting on that)
People want to pass on a smart buy, a new find, a great experience - in part because it makes them look and feel smart, loyal, counted on, savvy, cutting edge, crafty - whatever the thing they need to look good. I'm not pointing this out as some cynical conclusion about the world - I'm pointing this out to say that any successful referral marketing effort you engage in better give your referral source this motivation. I guess another way of saying it is that no one wants to refer something or someone that makes them look bad.
Keys to looking good. There are many, many variables in figuring out what people will perceive makes them look good, but you can bet your business needs some amount of:
- Buzz - People want refer things that are new enough to be a bit of a find but solid enough that thought leaders are in the know
- Met Expectation - People want to be sure that you will meet their expectation - they want the same experience over and over again
- Value - People want to be able to say, "here's what is so great" in very simple terms
Build your referral systems in ways that let people feel good about referring you and you will tap into the master human motivation.
July 06, 2005
Referrals Are A Matter Of Motivation
Most small business owners miss the boat when it comes to getting a constant flow of referrals because they start off in the wrong direction.
If they seek referrals at all, most small business owners head straight to their clients. Now, your existing clients can be a good source of referrals. And when you think about it, who better to sing your praises than someone who has actually experienced your rare abilities.
The problem though is that your existing clients don't have much motivation.
When it comes to figuring out a referral marketing system, the number one question you need to answer is this. Who is, or can be convinced to be, highly motivated to refer business to me?
When you look at it from that point of view you begin to realize that no matter who you approach you better be able to propose a motivation that has something in it for them.
In most cases, the best referral sources, those that can be motivated, are businesses like yours that sell to the same target market. Think strategic partners!
There are many ways to motivate this type of referral lead source. You likely have something they want or can at least propose a way for them to get more of what they want. I'm afraid it's hard to say the same for your clients.
One of the best way to put this thinking on steroids is to think in terms of building your very own strategic partner network. Try to fill every need your clients have by plugging in and referring members of your private network. If you do this, you will never need to search for business again.
July 05, 2005
Systematically Flood Your Leads With An Education
One of the tactics I love to employ in the landing of new clients is something I call an "Info Storm." Here's the basic idea. You meet a new prospect, go over the solutions you have for and then jointly decide on some next steps involved in them hiring you. Now, most people go away promising to send a proposal or follow-up in some manner. But, what also happens it that 3 other people slip in later that day and make a fine proposal for that same piece of business.
So, what do you do to keep your name on top of the stack as the decision process unfolds? Most people just do what they said they would do or worse. Others pick-up the phone and "check-in." Here's what I suggest you do. Don't beg for the business, make yourself the obvious choice.
- By the end of the week, find a way to refer a prospect or necessary contact to your lead
- Send them an article that discusses some point of interest you know they have
- Drop them a copy of a press release you just sent to the media
- Send them a free report, checklist or tool you know they will appreciate.
Here's the key to this storm. Don't ask for the order, don't try to get and appointment, don't call. Just keep sending them this perfectly scripted, useful information and watch what happens. I can hear sales trainers all over the world moaning about the subtleness of this approach but there is something very appealing about simply being there, giving great information and waiting.
Oh, and there's something very referable about someone who sells this way! And the best part, It can all be automated while you're out there knocking more doors down.
July 02, 2005
How To Move Up The Referral Food Chain
This post will smack some as a tad elitist or politically incorrect but, I'm about to explain a referral marketing fact of life.
People can only refer down the food chain (or maybe in the same food group)
What I mean by that is that is, if you are counting a person to refer the VP of sales for a Fortune 500 company, and that person is seen by the VP of Sales as vendor and not as an equal, good luck. Now, understand that in many cases this is simply a function of title, socioeconomic class or even age - but it's also a function of value.
Plenty of high level executives in your network may not be able to refer you to their peers because even their peers don't see them as valued partners. The food chain rewards value.
And the flip side of that! Plenty of seemingly lower level folks provide so much value in the networking relationships they create, doors open for them in mysterious ways.
With all this said, here's what I'm getting at:
- If you want to make contact with a higher level (title, income, celebrity status, thought leader, mover-shaker) of prospect you must move out of your current level of network and start breaking in to higher level networks. Quick, how many people in your current network group can and do refer you to executives that are seemingly out of your reach?
- If you want to break into a network seen higher than the ones you currently play in provide value. Give before your even ask in return. Prove your worth. Be a coach, consultant or information source that outshines all others and the doors to this higher network will open. And when they do, the referrals you receive will be a little higher on the food chain too.
June 25, 2005
How Will You Know When To Refer Me
Quite often your referral sources don't get asked the perfect referral question.
In other words, people don't always come right out and say, "I don't think I am getting the performance on my investments that I should, do you know a good financial advisor."
If they did that, and you were a great financial advisor, referring you would be a piece of cake.
A cry for help is usually more cryptic than that, so you've got to train your referral sources to look for the clues you've grown to hear.
A prospect says, "Oh, I don't need to worry about estate taxes, all I have is retirement assets and insurance." Now, you know that this is a great selling clue because insurance proceeds go into the estate and maybe the estate taxes.
So create a sheet you call - "Think of us when a friend or associate says:" - Then make up a list of the big triggers you know about. Things like events, lifestyle changes, money matters - whatever makes sense for you business. You know you've heard them a million times.
In my business, if I find a prospective business that is doing well, but admits that they "want to take it to the next level" I am pretty certain they are ready to listen to what I can do for them.
Just play back some of the conversations you've had with clients or think back to the networking events where you've been on the lookout for selling conversations and put those clues down on paper for your referral sources.
Hey, by the way, I just released a digital version of Referral Flood that is available for immediate download and comes with a little smaller price tag than the printed version
June 22, 2005
The Value Added Referral Machine
Want a powerful way to add value to your product or service or gain some new customers in a real hurry?
Pump up the value
Go out and find businesses that serve your very same target market and get them to agree to give you some sort of free product or service that either compliments what you sell or at the very least is of interest to your target market. It can even be a trial vesion of a product.
Lets say you are a graphic designer. Do you think you could generate some new clients if you advertised 500 free business cards with each new logo design? Trust me, there are quality print shops out there that would love to partner with you on this. 500 business cards cost them about $15 to print. Any savvy print shop owner would understand that is a fair price to pay to acquire a new client. Dare I say win/win?
Gain new clients
So put the shoe on the other foot. Go out and offer to provide a service to businesses that serve your market and prepare to be introduced to some new business immediately. Lets say you are a marketing consultant. Go to some local small business accounting firms and offer to complete a small business marketing audit for each of their new small business clients for free!. Its a pretty compelling offer.
* Real Estate agent and maid service
* Remodeling contractor and window cleaning service
Anybody sell affiliate products like software applications? Produce a training screencast or tutorial or offer to install the application for free and give people a reason to buy the product from you!
Imagine if you got really aggressive about this how much value you build around your products or services. This tactic alone could make you the obvious choice when a prospect goes out shopping.
Okay, so this seems like a good time to mention that this is just one of the many referral techniques found in Referral Flood