Get In Touch

Have you thought about a referral programme but not sure where to start?

Maybe referral marketing is not a channel you have thought of but would like to know more.

Referrals or word of mouth marketing, can be one of the best ways to grow a business. It generally costs very little and can be one of the highest converters ie more $$ in your business and in your pocket.

So how do we actually get more referral business? Can we just rock up to someone and ask them to refer to us? that would be a big fat NO. But there are ways you can start making it happen.We are going to go through 15 strategies you can start using Immediately! 

So what qualifies me to talk about referrals??

In the last 6 weeks I have started work on 9 websites which are 100% referrals. One of these was a referral from a person I helped out with some website issues 3 years ago!! 

This made me look at my data for the last 6 months and of all the websites I built in this time, only 2 websites not direct referrals BUT theses clients still checked me out with others before confirming.

My business has grown purely from referrals and has happened totally organically. I don’t have a program and I don’t send thank you cards and until recently have offered no rewards…

But there are things I have done along the way that have encouraged people to refer me and I’m going to step you through that here.

What is referral marketing? WOM?

Otherwise known as word of mouth marketing, it is very simply a recommendation of a product or service. An endorsement of you and your business.

It is actually the highest honour a customer can give a business. Referrals are awesome in the business it generates but as importantly they are a recognition of a job well done – actually done SO well they want to tell other people about it.

And that’s why Referral marketing really works.

Why it works

We love seeing or hearing what other people have that has helped or benefited them and we want that for ourselves too!  We do “want what she’s having”

We trust recommendations.

In an internet world of so many choices it is easier and more reassuring to get a recommendation from someone else – especially if they are friends or family.

“92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising” (Neilson quote)

Unfortunately, while most satisfied customers say they’d love to refer, less than half of them actually do…

Referral marketing is deliberately encouraging your customers to tell their friends about you.

Ok so how do we do that????

1. Give

It all starts here, be generous, use the what currency you have

    • Resources
    • Time
    • Support
    • Energy
    • encouragement

BE a referrer and pay it forward. Do this with caution – only refer what you 100% endorse and is aligned with your own values. YOUR reputation could be at stake here if they do not provide the standard of work you would expect.

What or how can you give?

2. Exceed expectations.

You can do this with your Customer service, your response time, recommendations of other tools and services, connections with sales opportunities, suggestion opportunities, fixing something they haven’t noticed.

Simply by going the extra mile, it will be worth it. 

What can you do to exceed expectations?

3. Build relationships 

Referrals come from people – so you need to get out there and meet more people! 

You can do this through Networking at groups like Chrysalis for Women, in co-working spaces like The Settlement, online in business networking groups like She Owns it community

Make an effort, schedule networking events in and GO TO THEM. Invite people for coffee, get to know them and their businesses.

How will you build some more relationships?

4. Be surprising 

Work on the feel good factor! We all love a surprise or something out of the ordinary. It can be

    • A surprise gift (small, fun, not expensive)
    • Extra tools – access extra tools or functionality for your services
    • Something fun – a coffee invite, a book mark
    • Acknowledgement through your social media – share your clients successes too
    • Useful resources – anything that will make your contacts lives easier

I have started giving free hours of website work to people who have referred me. They didn’t know I was going to do this so it came as a really great surprise.

What can you do to surprise your clients?

5. Just ASK 

When appropriate, generally at the end of a project, just bring it into the conversation – who do you know that would benefit from {your services}. It helps to be specific here  eg “Do you know anyone starting a new business that needs a website, focused on growing their business that’s easy and affordable?”

How could you ask for referral business?

6. Make it easy

Tools:
There are lots of online tools out there to make referring friends and family easy. These work especially well for online product businesses

    • Recommend a friend
    • Affiliate programmes
    • Products discounts 
    • Post purchase email, refer a friend discount

Collaboration or partnerships

If you are working together with someone that has a compatible/ aligned business, it makes it very easy for you to recommend each other. You know what your clients are going to get with your collaboration partner and you know they are actively referring to you too.

Having partners and being able to offer suggestions of other service providers for clients helps build your own reputation too.

For my business I have partnerships with people that offer hosting, email services, graphic design services, copywriting services, sales and business strategy services. It makes me feel great recomending awesome business, but I alos know my cleints value that I can make this easy for them for services they are totally going to need. 

7. Incentivise

If your contacts needed a little nudge, what would compel them to refer you?

    • Discounts
    • Special deals
    • Service upgrades
    • Gifts
    • Resources
    • Cash
    • Recognition

What incentives can you offer?

8. Provide Value

We love feeling like we got great value and I’m sure you are providing this but do your clients know how much value they are getting??? So I guess what this should say is SHOW how you provide value

I recently changed my proposal template where it used to say

Built on WordPress CMS

To

Standard Inclusions

  • Website built on WordPress CMS
  • Upload of Divi Theme (visual builder for easy maintenance – value $84USD)
  • Fully mobile and device optimised
  • Custom website design
  • Clean, fresh, modern styling
  • Social media links
  • Registered and verified with Google
  • Sitemap created
  • Newsletter sign up
  • Set up Google analytics
  • Training videos on how to manage the site

Nothing actually changed but my clients are now aware of how much they get as a standard inclusion in every website built.

How can you show how you provide value?

9. Nurture

Look after your clients and contact – referral is not about going out and collecting more people – it’s about nurturing who you have.

You can do this by

  • Maintain regular contact
  • Share resources with them
  • Keep them up to date and informed
  • Events

How can you nurture your clients?

10. Be AWESOME at what you do

Or forget everything I just told you….Average product, average service….hmmm not likely to get ANY referrals.

Be passionate about what you do and in providing an awesome customer experience.

Are you awesome at what you do?

Creating a Referral programme

1. What are your goals?

What do you want from your referral programme? More business right?? Well let’s set some specific goals around this – numbers and timeframes. Be realistic. If you aren’t investing time on working through the previous 10 steps, then you aren’t going to achieve huge success and you are actually just making up numbers. 

Referral marketing is a long process, not an overnight one BUT you can still reap rewards from seeds sown several years later.

2. Who will you reach out to?

Who would be the people most likely to refer you right now? Start there – with the nurturing, with a surprise, build that relationship.

Start with existing clients, then existing contacts, then pursue networking opportunities.

3. How will you implement it? 

What is your outreach plan? Build touch points into your client nurturing and follow up processes. 

  • Keep it manageable and sustainable
  • Write it down as a step by step process

4. What is the incentive?

What will compel your clients and contacts to refer you? Which of these would they respond to?

  • Discounts
  • Upgrades
  • Competition prize
  • Gift
  • Resources
  • A memorable experience
  • Recognition

Ask some of your existing clients what would appeal them. Choose the appropriate incentive(s) that fit your budget, your business and your refers.

5. Measure, Measure – CRM?

When we understand where our business is coming from we can do more of it. I know my business is based on 97% referral. This means Google Ads and FB Ads are not where I want to spend my money. I would rather spend it on those actively referring me.

To measure where your business is coming from you can use

  • Trello
  • A simple spreadsheet
  • A CRM

For product based businesses, use your analytics to see where your business is coming from. Use online referral tools to record uptake on your online referral programmes.

Summary

Be awesome at what you do

Be generous

Nurture, nurture nurture

Whatever shows to be working the best – do more of that!

About the author:

Iona Elwood-Smith is the founder of Grow my Business, Strategic Web Solutions. Iona is a website strategist, a title she completely made up to describe how she brings strategic business thinking to web design and development.  She believes getting it right for your website helps you get it right for your business.
 
Iona is passionate about helping small businesses get the website they need to grow their business. 
Always open to a coffee and a conversation – book a chat with Iona here