There’s nothing as powerful for a small business owner as a satisfied customer. They not only continue to do business with you, but if you ask them—they can potentially deliver a lot of new business to you as well. If you’re not asking for and using referrals then you could be missing out on a treasure trove of new business. An impressive 65 percent of new business comes from referrals, so you need to formulate some referral marketing tactics and create a plan to put them into action to grab your share. Here’s how to get started:
- Don’t be afraid to ask. The golden rule of referrals: It never hurts to ask—especially when a customer’s had a good experience with your business. Most customers are happy to make referrals, but it’s not top of mind, so you likely need to request or remind them. 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, although most businesses and consumers are familiar with ratings and review sites, such as Yelp, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll remember to review your business. Make it easier for them to do so by including a link in your email to your Yelp and social media pages.
- Send business cards. When you send satisfied customers an invoice at the end of a project, send along some of your business cards as well and ask them to give them to their friends and/or colleagues. This is an easy way to streamline the referral process.
- Do unto others. If your customers are business owners, make sure to refer people you know to their businesses. This will make it more likely they’ll refer your business as a thank you. You should also leave positive online reviews and share info about their businesses on social media to help them get referrals.
- Stay connected. Keep in touch by sending an occasional email, newsletter or mobile message (with their permission, of course).
- Give a reward. Consider incentivizing your satisfied customers by giving them discounts or other promotions if a referral turns into a paying client or if they share your email with 10 friends. Whatever the incentive, make sure your clients know you appreciate their efforts—and their referrals.
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