I don’t know why but word of mouth marketing seems to have become a dirty word. There is this narrative I have seen on social media that it is not as reliable as say advertising or being visible on social media.
But this is so not true if you put in place systems to ask for referrals. Sure if you are randomly relying on people to recommend you that may not lead to regular income. But if you have those systems in place to regularly ask for referrals then you can have a flourishing business from them.
I personally grew my Facebook ad business primarily off the back of referrals (not Facebook ads which feels a bit ironic!) and I know plenty of other successful business owners who use referrals as their main source of business. And this is without any fancy referral program involving payments.
Two things I like to get clear on when making referrals a key part of my marketing are who I want referred and when I want to ask.
Who I want referred
First is to be clear with people about what you do and who your ideal client is. When I first started getting referrals, some of the people referred were not a great fit and caused me quite a bit of angst! Tell people who your ideal client is and how you can help.
If you help people who are already consistently making $5k a month in their business, say that. If you help people who are aged over 40 tell people that. If people are referring the wrong people let them know. It doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help the person being referred if you aren’t a good fit.
When to ask
The second thing is to think about when you want to ask for referrals. You don’t want to constantly bugging your contacts to refer people. Not only can it reek a bit of desperation but you also become white noise that gets ignored.
Work out how many clients you want a month. If your leads aren’t looking like they are going to be enough to convert to your target, then start contacting people for referrals (which means you need to know your conversion rate). And keep track of who you are asking. If you have plenty of contacts, then maybe you only want to ask half for referrals each time.
If it looks like you are on track to make your sales targets then you obviously don’t need to ask for referrals. But even if your business is doing well, it is still worth reminding people about what you do and who you help on a semi-regular basis. But you can make it a much softer ask. You could share a blog post you have found that might interest them and share an update on how your business is going.
I know this isn’t the latest and greatest marketing technique or strategy but it works and is often going to be much less work for you than learning that new strategy, particularly if things are looking a bit tight.
Become the worst kept secret (because everyone is talking about you!)
If you would like more support on setting up your systems for referrals then check out my Fantastic Finishes System with templates and processes to get your systems in place.