Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using Client Referrals to Grow Your Business

When you are starting up, one of your biggest worries as an entrepreneur is - how do I snag more clients? It can be difficult, and sometimes, all the big bucks you spend on advertising and direct marketing bring in meager results. When the fancy stuff is not working, it is time to call in the old, tried-and-tested marketing tool: word of mouth.

TAKE THE FIRST STEP: ASK - You are sure to have a few loyal customers who like and appreciate your products and services. They like you enough to give you repeat business, so why not request them to recommend your business to a friend? But you need to ask, Do not be shy or assume that just because a customer is happy and satisfied they will automatically refer to other potential customers. Even the most satisfied customer may forget to recommend you, purely because they are busy with other things. Get into the habit of asking your top customers if they know of a third party who would appreciate your products or services.

BUILDING THE CIRCLE OF TRUST - Remember Robert DeNiro and his 'circle of trust' in the movie Meet the Parents? In order to generate and build a network of client referrals, you need to build your own circle of trust. Referrals work because they are based on trust. For the prospect, it is coming from a trusted source: your business, which they have tried and tested. The key is to deliver quality and be patient. Wait until you clients are truly satisfied. Asking them for a referral after a single transaction will not get you much. Wait for positive feedback pr until a real relationship has been established. And do not hesitate to go the extra mile - perhaps an in-person meeting or a business lunch requesting a referral. It will pay off in the end.

INCENTIVIZE - If your existing customers are bringing in thousands of dollars worth of business each month via referrals, then give them something in return. Start a client referral system and reward your customers. Offer something of value to customers who recommend your business - this will give them more incentive to sing your praises. Discounts, free gifts, extra points on their loyalty cards - anything that they can use. Never underestimate the value of client referrals. Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing methodology, because most people are willing to take a chance on something new when it comes fro a values source. Try it out yourself, and it will be sure to enrich your business and your customers!

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