Referral marketing is a structured and systematic process to maximize word of mouth potential. Referral marketing does this by encouraging, informing, promoting and rewarding customers and contacts to think and talk as much as possible about their supplier, their company, product and service and the value and benefit the supplier brings to them and people they know.
Referral marketing takes word of mouth from the spontaneous situation to one where maximum referrals are generated.
Online referral marketing, using digital marketing as a platform, is the internet based approach to traditional referral marketing. Given the advances in tracking customer behavior online through the use of web browser cookies, online referral marketing provides a high degree of tracking and accountability.
As mobile access to the internet becomes increasingly popular, offline referral marketing using trackable business cards are also becoming increasingly popular. Trackable business cards typically contain QR codes linking them to online content for sale while providing a way to track that sale back to the person whose card was scanned.
Here are five keys to building and sustaining a good referral network:
Now, every service-oriented company requires clients, and clients don’t come any better than by referral. Third-party endorsements are powerful vehicles and are among your most valuable marketing tools. Referrals cost little to create (aside from your scarce time) and usually bring in the best, most desirable clients.
Your referral sources are part of your business development team, so to speak. And for those who won’t wince at the “s” word, we’re talking about a sales force here. They are your champions and will pull you onto a team whenever they can because you’re a high-performing pro, and you’ll make them look like a winner.
A referral network can provide a good stream of business. Once you’ve demonstrated your value and managed relationships carefully, you can focus a significant portion of marketing time on keeping the network humming. But each individual is motivated to refer you work by different factors. Your goal is to understand these motives, and to respond and accommodate them to the best of your ability.
Some referral sources may view you as having the same potential to refer work to them. This is only a problem if you are unable to reciprocate. If your firm’s mandate is to send all referrals to another firm or individual, you need to help your referral source find another motive.
Others may see you working for their clients as a benefit to client relations, given your skill and expertise. A referral to a client that works out well reflects positively on their working relationship. Everyone wins and the client stays within a trusted circle of professionals, getting excellent client care, service and advice. Nice.
Some may see an alliance with you as an opportunity to raise their own stock. If you are positioned as an industry expert or leader, someone with less profile may seek to elevate their stature by your acquaintance. Clever.
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