I’ve been testing this marketing method for almost 30 years. I started asking clients how they heard about us in the mid-1980s when I ran a fleet of mobile grooming vans. Hands down, this marketing method has been my #1 form of advertising with every company I’ve run. Mobile grooming. Grooming salons. Grooming schools. Full service luxury pet resorts. If the company is based on service, referral-based marketing is the leader in getting new clients through the door. It’s the #1 marketing method – period.
In his book, ‘The Referral Engine’, John Jantsch states “Human beings are psychologically wired to make referrals… Making referrals is a deeply satisfying way to connect with others — asking for referrals is just another side of the same phenomenon.”
Stop and think about it. If you’ve been able to read a testimonial from someone else or someone has told you about their positive experience with the company, don’t you go into the buying decision more confidently? If you have a recommendation when you need to purchase something, especially a service based product, don’t you feel better about it? Of course you do.
Referrals can come from anywhere. They can be spoken or written in the form of a testimonial. Of course, your existing clientele is your largest pool of influence. However, there are many other areas of opportunity to encourage referral based marketing.
Areas of opportunity:
- Your existing clientele
- Hairdresser (they know everything!)
- Local pizza joint
- Coffee shop
- Pet supply businesses
- Dog parks
- Rescue organizations
- Pet sitters
- Anywhere people gather and talk
So what is the best way to encourage referral based marketing? Don’t be boring! People don’t talk about boring companies. They don’t rave about poor or even mediocre service. You need to stand out – in a positive way. People talk about things that surprise and delight them. They talk about things that bring a smile to their faces immediately. They talk about things that make them feel instantly comfortable with your company and/or your service. As John Jantsch says in his book, “If the marketplace isn’t talking about you, there’s a reason. The reason is that you’re boring.”
The key with referral based marketing is it needs to come from the heart of your company. It has to be the real you. Day in – day out. People are automatically drawn to kind and caring service providers. Compassion is clearly obvious from the second they walk through the door. They instantly know if you have their best interest in mind and will provide a quality job. Perspective customers and clients can spot a fake a mile away.
A lot goes into successful referral based marketing. It’s not an overnight process. It embodies the entire core of your business. The more areas that you can make a positive impression upon the client, the higher the likelihood they’ll talk about you after they leave.
In the last 20 years the marketing game has changed. With the explosion of the Internet and social media marketing in the past few years, it’s become much easier – and economical – to reach out and touch your clients on a regular basis. An appealing, professionally created website is the new Yellow Pages ad. Electronic newsletters replace the old paper version. Facebook allows you to generate images and encourage clients to interact about your company. A comprehensive e-mail database allows you to stay in touch with your customers.
Referral-based marketing is about making a positive impression upon your customers. The impression is so positive, they can’t wait to tell their family, friends, and acquaintances about the positive experience they have had with your business. What are you doing right now to get people talking about YOUR business in a positive fashion?
Suggested Reading: The Referral Engine by John Jantsch