Word of mouth referrals power my business, but the person making the referral can only say so much. By giving him or her easy methods to connect people with my business, I keep from putting my customers in an awkward position that prevents them from sharing my business with others.
Often, people don’t know what to say about a business. They know what they experienced, but they aren’t sure if it’s universal. They also don’t want to say something wrong or misleading because it might upset the business they like or the person to whom they are making the referral. As a result, people often just keep their mouthes shut. The result is few referrals, not because the busienss doesn’t deserve them, but because the business doesn’t make it easy.
Below are some ideas on how to make it easy for people to make referrals.
One of the best ways for people to give referrals is to point someone to a company website, where all the right words, the prices, the services, the contact information and hours are visible. But how often is the website non-exisitent? (About half the time, according to research on what percentage of small businesses have websites.) How often is the information on the website outdated? (Too often, especially when it comes to staffing, hours and locations.). How often does the website reflect something different from what the company is now focusing on? (Too often.)
So here I want to refer a friend to a resource, something he’s asked me about, and the company doesn’t provide a website to make it easy. Seeking referrals without an up-to-date, effective website is like fishing the ocean without a fishing pole.
A second way to help people refer you is by forwarding a monthly or quarterly email newsletter you create. Even if only a few people read your newsletter, it’s value may lie most in how it enables your customers to have an easy way to share your company and your perspective with potential customers. Free email services like Mailchimp make these email newsletters easy to create.
A third way to help possible referrers is to have a short, informative video about your business. This video shouldn’t be talking heads, but something more engaging. It should highlight in fun, easy language what you do and why you do it.
A fourth way is to blog. The ideas and observations you present it a blog about your business can help people to better understand if you are a good fit for them. My blog at http://biggerpiestrategies.com/blog covers one area and one area only: Issues, questions and concerns my potential customers might have. Every blog post is written to provide them with information that positions me as both an expert in the field and as someone who wants to help them. By listening to my customers, I find a wealth of possible topics to write about.
Oh, and I feed the few blog posts I write each month into my email newsletter, including just the headlines and first paragraphs, with links to the full blog posts. That way I have content for the email newsletter from my blog posts.
These strategies have worked well for my business. They are inexpensive and invaluable in helping my business to grow.