Activate Your Referral Network
Ultimately, to succeed in your marketing, you want to do three things: GROW AWARENESS of your Brand, ACTIVATE REFERRALS, and INCREASE NEW LEADS. What follows are practical strategies for activating your referral network.
A Bird in the Hand
You know the familiar proverb—“A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.” Yet, with the influence of the Internet on everyone’s lives, it’s easy to forget the bird close-by and focus only on beating the virtual bushes out on the Internet for new customers.
Every contemporary business leader knows that digital marketing must be a key ingredient in their company’s marketing mix. But don’t miss what may be your biggest opportunity—the bird in hand—your referral network.
It’s About Trust
Statistical findings repeatedly confirm that word of mouth recommendation or referral is often the most significant factor in influencing a buying decision. Here’s findings from a Nielsen Report.
The numbers tell a story:
You gain a huge advantage if you activate your referral network, because people trust who they know. And if those they know and trust make a recommendation, it’s more likely that those individuals will choose in your direction.
With our customers, we are finding that customers in their referral base not only return for more business, but the size of the projects are larger. This reflects another finding in this Nielsen report:
Customer acquisitions through referrals spend 200 percent more than the average customer. Robust advocacy-marketing programs are achieving significant revenue gains—10 to 20 percent for established products and up to 100 percent for new products.
Building Your Referral Network
In a business context, your referral network is the people you know through your experience in the industry—current clients, former clients or partner colleagues—who already trust you and would be likely to recommend you to others if asked.
Where do you find them? Why, close at hand, of course. Start with your proprietary Rolodex, your LinkedIn connections. Systematically go through this list, find as many emails as possible (many of your connections will list their email under their contact information on their LinkedIn page), and prioritize who has the greatest potential for doing business…now, next and future.
Make It Personal
Don’t just blast out emails to the whole bunch. Slow down and stay true to the most effective marketing approach—personalized marketing. You are trying to grow your relationship with someone who could be an influencer for your business growth. Honor that relationship and ignite interest in them by keeping it personal and providing some value through the communication—a piece of news, an article you’ve written, some salient fact.
As you begin to connect with these individuals, some will rise to the top as having potential for new business. Create in your CRM system an opportunity, deal or engagement (whatever your systems names them) with their firm, connecting their name to this potential business. Identify your Top 5 and your Top 20 and keep moving them through your sales process, keeping true to the principal of providing a personalized touch.
Friends of the Firm
If it turns out that, after 6 or 9 months, no business is currently forthcoming with these, before you pause your connection, ask them if they have a referral or testimonial they might generate for you. Then, keep them on your “Friends of the Firm” list, and each quarter, provide them with an article or blog of value, sometimes referred to as a “lead magnet,” that may reignite their interest or motivate them to pass your name on to someone else.
You may also want to consider other ways that you can “bring some love” to this “Friends of the Firm” list. Invite them to a summer barbecue. Treat them to coffee at a conference you’re both attending. Offer an incentive for a referral they provide.
Go to the Top of Mind
A roofing firm that we have provided services for, and that we in turn rely on as our roofing expert, is GoTo Roofing. They add this personal touch when a job is complete. Customers receive in the mail a hand written Thank You card, with a business card and an insert that asks for a brief review online and offers an incentive for a referral. I was very satisfied with the custom job that GoTo Roofing did to fix a leak around our chimney with a custom stainless steel cap, but it wasn’t top of mind for me to go online to provide my 5-star review until I had been asked through this note.
As you set out to activate your referral network, remember another proverb many of us learned as scouts around the campfire—“Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Keep the old by continuing to be in touch in meaningful ways that add value and build trust. They will, in turn, return the favor. They’ll help you find new friends who are more likely to choose you because they have already heard the satisfied testimonials of the old friends. And that will move the marketing needle.
If you’d like some help in activating your referral network, be in touch. We’d love to help you MOVE ahead. Further. Faster.
P.S. Here are some other useful articles about activating your referral network: