With the popularity of Facebook and online forums, establishing a good referral system is essential to your business prospecting activities. Not having a referral strategy in place for your business is leaving money on the table.
Developing your strategy begins by being conscious of the power of referrals. The more expensive something is going to be, the more likely referrals are to be the deciding factor.
This does not mean that more expensive is necessarily better. Rather it means the decision is more measured when it comes to items at a higher price point. Similarly, when putting our trust in someone to handle things that are very personal to us...like our health. Or haircuts. Photographs and celebratory cakes – basically any special occasion that will not be repeated.
The two main types of referrals are:
1) Online Reviews
How often do you check the online reviews on TripAdvisor when you're in a new town? or on Facebook when you're thinking of using a business for the first time? I'm willing to bet you do that quite a lot! Am I right?
2) Personal Recommendations
When was the last time you went to a restaurant because a friend kept on raving how great the food or the service was? Asked a family member or friend to recommend a reliable plumber or electrician to take care of your dripping taps or broken fans?
I do this on a regular basis because good tradies are hard to find! Similarly, doctors, dentists, electricians, accountants and a myriad of other professionals.
As regular readers of this column know, I’m new to Bribie Island. I've found a hairdresser, a masseur, a photographer as well as my airconditioning installer and electrician all through referrals.
Most of these referrals came from online recommendations in a local community group Facebook page. Now we all know just because it’s on Facebook does not mean it’s true! So it’s important to do your own due diligence and not just believe everything you read. One of my favourite ways of doing this is by checking out the profiles of the reviewers and of the business owners; they can be very revealing!
If you're in business your online profile deserves your attention because you never know when you'll be 'snooped' by a potential client.
Competition is tough so referral strategies need to have a key place in your business to help you stand out from the crowd. Even more so now that there is so much happening out there in the social media landscape. Tapping into that landscape is GOLD.
Having a referral strategy brings your business 4 key benefits:
1 ) Customer acquisition costs are minimal. Your happy customers are doing the marketing for you. Of course, this only happens if you give good service and are attentive to your customers' needs.
2) Customer retention rate is higher. If people are happy with your services, they are most likely to keep doing business with you. However, you also need to remain front of mind, so it's important to maintain contact via a strategic communications plan.
3) The marketplace is crowded. There is so much going on out there in "internet land." It makes getting your message to stand out from the crowd difficult.
Who better to recommend and refer you than happy clients/customers? Remember, we value the advice and recommendations of our friends.
4) Conversion rates are generally higher. A prospect introduced to your business by someone they trust is far more likely to convert into a new client/customer for you.
The old adage that an unhappy customer will tell everyone and a happy customer usually won't say anything much is definitely true.
What this boils down to is this...communication.
If you haven’t got a referral system in place, it’s not too late to start! You’ll be surprised at how easy it really is once you are open to creating and maximising the opportunities.
Until next issue….
Michelle Hanton firstname.lastname@example.org 898082
Michelle Hanton OAM is a multi-award winning international business strategist, the founder of Dragons Abreast Australia and former CEO of Lifeline Top End. Her business, Dragon Sisters, specialises in actionable, momentum building support to help move businesses to the next level.