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How to plan a particularly effective referral strategy

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Two things are almost guaranteed here:

  1. You're very unlikely to have a structured referral strategy in place:

  2. Referrals are your most cost effective method of bringing in new customers:


How to plan your referral strategy


  1. Make your business referable

    List your top 20 or 30 customers.  Ask them what they particularly like about how you work together.  Ask them what they would change to improve your services.

    Once you’ve implemented their suggestions you’ll be in a great position to go back to them.  People love it when a business takes their advice, and are far more likely to recommend you as a result.

  2. Agree how to get your customers to refer you

    Sit down with your team and have a brainstorm. Talk about what you want to do and get everybody’s input. 

    If your team is part of the process of coming up with the strategy then they are much more likely to get behind it, and make it a success.

    Discuss if you should be seen to be actively referring your customers - maybe within a preferred partner programme.

    Consider if a referral incentive would be a good idea, or maybe whether it’s better to send out ‘thank you cards’.

  3. Find ways to make it easy for your customers to refer you

    For example:

    How might you encourage your customers to put your business contact details in their phone - so that they can contact you quickly if they need help - but also have your details immediately to hand to pass on to a friend? (Connecting with them on LinkedIn is an obvious choice but there will no doubt be lots of others)

    What sort of valuable content should you add to your website that customers will want to share with friends via social media?

  4. Don’t ask, don’t get

    The research* showed that many of your customers will be happy to refer you - so agree with your team what is the best way to ask them to do this. Here is some guidance that may help.

  5. Recognise and reward when you get a referral

    Get your team’s input on how to do this.  Some clients may be delighted with a ‘thank you’ card, others may expect a bigger reward.  

    Once your strategy is in place (please use the guide below) you should invest some time putting together a written referral plan.  If you give it a proper launch internally, the business will profit as a result.

*A report called "Anatomy of a Referral" conducted by Advisor Impact, Charles Schwab and Texas Tech University.



Referral marketing: your step-by-step guide

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