Is it your marketing activity or your reputation that helps you to generate business? Who, or what, is actually selling what you do, to others? Could referral marketing be an effective way to enhance both?
Word of mouth has real impact when it comes to selling a business. Certain traditional trades such as builders have always relied heavily on it, but it can apply to a much wider range of businesses.
In the digital world, moreover, referrals now carry even more weight in your marketing because spreading the word has never been easier.
Reinforce Your Recommendations
To harness the power of referrals you need to have a referral marketing plan. Without this, your word of mouth recommendations, while pleasant enough, will not be working to help generate new business.
“Referrals can seem fairly informal, like a pat on the back,” says Alan Locke, a business leader who has built his business through a clever referral marketing systems.
“You should treat referrals as another means of marketing your business. And a powerful one at that”
“A referral marketing programme has to be visible, so that your existing customers know you have one, and that through it you can ask them to make a recommendation on your behalf,” says Alan. “With this in mind, customer satisfaction is really important so that your customers have a real reason to recommend you to others.”
There has to be a continuous process of customer engagement to ensure effective referrals.
“Motivate your customers, offer them rewards for referrals,” Alan advises, “either by rewarding the generator of the referral, or by rewarding both them and the new customer they bring you.”
Explore the Potential of Social Media
Using the appropriate social media channels, to stay closely connected with your customer base, encourages referrals.
“Promoting yourself is not enough. You have to gain people’s trust by engaging with them”, advises Alan.
“If potential customers are already aware of you and they then receive a strong recommendation from someone else, this all reinforces a sense of trust in what you can do for them”
Your website should have a prominent testimonials page, and you should consider how best to use an integrated feedback system, so that you can both encourage and publicise customer feedback.
“According to Nielsen, people are four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend or someone they trust,” Alan concludes. “You should not be ignoring the enormous power of consumer recommendations and the strategic potential of referral marketing.”
Marketing Aspects Magazine appreciates Alan Locke’s expertise.