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The Seven Rules for Regular and Reliable Referrals

Referrals are the best type of marketing you can have. They’re more likely to be trusted than any other form of advertising.

Here we discuss the seven rules you can use to inspire regular and reliable referrals in your business…

  • Referrals are not icing on a cake. Too often referrals are a BTW – “By the way, got any referrals for me?” Yuck!!! Instead of tackily tacking it on the end of your service, start with the referral in mind. Most people ask for a referral after the product or service has been delivered. Yet, the best time to ask is before you even start! In this way referrals become a condition of doing business and you set the expectation for what’s to come. Alert your customer in advance about your desire for referrals. Then, exceed their expectations. This can be as simple as adding an unexpected bonus.

Action: Pre-empt referrals by asking for them in advance.

  • Referrals are like playing snooker. The average snooker player concentrates solely on the ball in front of them. This will get you so far… The professional snooker player thinks several balls ahead. ‘If I can pocket this one and roll to there it will set me up on that ball too…’ When we think short term, we get short-term results. To build a referral based business you need to think long term. Firstly, think of the specific value you provide for your customers. Measure this and referrals will naturally occur. Secondly, think of the lifetime value the customer provides to you. And, not just in terms of the income they bring. The bigger opportunity is in the number of referrals they can provide.

Action: Build a referral culture that includes systems, processes and your team working towards the same goal.

  • Referrals require two niches. As a generalist, it’s hard to cut through the flood of information and marketing hype. Thus, the common wisdom for business today is to be a niche player. With regard to referrals, you need two niches. Firstly, you need to be really, really clear about what do you do. Your Core Difference needs to be unique, worth talking about and concrete. And, most importantly, for someone to blow your trumpet effectively, they need to be able to speak what you do clearly, accurately and simply. Secondly, you need to be really, really clear who is your ideal customer. A referral for the wrong customer can be worse than no referral at all. You need to know who you’re working to attract and where they hang out. Plus you need to be able to educate your customers so they can refer others to you.

Action: Be really clear on what you do and know how to communicate this to your ideal customer.

  • Referrals crave a kiss, a cuddle and a good scratch. If you’re going to start with the referral in mind and the lifetime value of the customer, then every single point of contact and influence with them needs to be considered. Here’s seven questions to consider as you build your business and referral systems: How do you make a good first impression? How do you scratch their itch? How do you build trust before a customer buys? How does a customer sample your wares? What’s the customer buying experience really like? What measurable results do your customers achieve? How do you monitor who is referring whom?

Action: Design ways to make every interaction with your customers build trust and inspire referrals.

  • Referrals are an on and off marriage. It’s no longer enough to rely on face-to-face contact to attract customers. Today, we achieve our best results when we marry our online and offline efforts. Here’s the Four Cs of Online Marketing to consider: Content: Educate your customers with white papers, blogs and videos. Context: Assist customers to make informed decisions by filtering out the clutter, noise and mis-information. Connection: The better you can tune into the human condition, the better your relationship and referrals. Community: Create ways for your customers to meet each other to share their common interests.

Action: Weave your online and offline marketing into a consistent and reliable lead-generating system.

  • Referrals are the result of good schooling. Most of us are skeptical when it comes to advertising. We don’t want to be interrupted, mislead or persuaded by it anymore. The new fuel for lead generation is content. Stop selling. Instead, educate, teach and let your customers learn so they can make their own informed decisions. Let them: Sample your wares Learn tips and tricks to get the most from your product and services, and Instruct your advocates how best to refer you.

Action: Create a content marketing plan to educate your customers.

  • Referrals work best in pairs. Where are you going to get your referrals from? There are two potential sources. One is obvious, the other less so. The obvious source is people who have already experienced your product/service firsthand. Teach them how best to tell others about you. The less obvious source is business owners who cater to the same ideal customer. Simply form a partnership to offer referrals to each others business. Warning: Don’t accept just anyone. When you refer them it’s your reputation on the line.

Action: Teach your existing customers how to refer you. And, for double the impact, create your own network of referring businesses.

Your 30-day Challenge How many new referrals can you generate in the next 30 days? Start by counting them. Then build systems to attract more and better-qualified leads.

Derived from John Jantsch’s The Referral EngineThe Book Rapper summary of The Referral Engine is available at: http://www.bookrapper.com