Referral marketing is one of the most widely used and most successful marketing tactics. We love getting referrals and your customers and partners love giving them. Unfortunately most businesses do not view referrals as a system – which means they are missing out on prospects and revenue.
- Create a business that gets talked about: One of the most obvious components of your referral marketing system is in plain site; your business. Want to create a little buzz? Do something remarkable and in a way that will give people something to talk about. This isn’t about gimmicks or stunts, it’s about finding the one thing that your customers appreciate and then taking that to a level that creates passion for your business. Don’t just have “great customer service” but create the Nordstrom’s experience in the Auto Repair Industry.
- Set goals and measure your success: Referral marketing effort and effectiveness should be measured like all other marketing tactics. You should establish realistic performance and activity goals. Performance goals might include an increase in revenue attributed to referrals, or overall percentage of new customers gained by referral. Activity goals might include the number of hours devoted to educating your sources and the number of referral marketing assets you create.
- Create a detailed description of your ideal customer: The ability to describe in specific detail the ideal customer for your business is vital to the success of any marketing strategy. Without a clear definition of the client you want to attract you will not be able to educate your referral sources. Understanding who appreciates your business and why will give you and your sources a much better chance of identifying and aligning prospects.
- Create an education plan for customers and partners – The education of your referral sources will help them provide you with only highly aligned prospects. If your referral sources understand the uniqueness of your business and how that applies to the needs of their contacts and associates they be more likely and willing to send prospects your way. To accomplish this you need to establish an education plan for your customers and partners. The plan would include what information is important to the source and their potential referrals and also the method you’ll use to educate. That includes your web site, detailed information sharing and personal interactions. Do not leave this to a casual conversation unless you want infrequent or unqualified prospects. The more your referral sources know the more they’ll want to refer.
- Define the process and consistently execute. Having a defined process for referral marketing makes it easier to implement and execute. Instead of wondering whether you should ask for a referral or not, make it part of you new customer package. Rather than scramble to respond to referred prospects, have an introduction template that will help further educate and qualify the prospect. If you think through each step you’ll discover where you need tools and support items and when to use them.
Referral marketing is an area that can have a big impact on your business for a low investment. Establishing a system-based approach will increase your performance and help you get more and better qualified prospects. This checklist will give you awareness to the steps and tools that can help you. Please feel free to share you story and experience with us – we love to hear how businesses use these ideas.
Read more on Revenue Generation Services for ways to help your marketing strategy and effort.
Receive your free marketing audit! Simply fill out the form below. It only takes 5 – 10 minutes to complete the form, but the value to your business may last a lifetime.
This Signature Brand Marketing Audit uses the principles of the Duct Tape Marketing System to help you create a simple, effective, and affordable marketing system.
After you complete the audit questions we will contact you to schedule a free, 30 minute session to review your existing marketing, give you a quick snapshot on the effectiveness of your web site and suggest several ways to improve your marketing system right now. The more information you provide, the better the feedback we can provide.
Here are 3 steps for ensuring the time, effort and dollars you invest in your marketing will provide you with the greatest return. Thanks to Infinity Signs for asking.
Learn more about how to put a marketing system in place that will give you results.
Did you realize that 90% of online commercial searches go to an offline bricks‐and‐mortar store to make the purchase? Your marketing strategy should include both on-line and off-line pieces and this checklist is meant to help you “localize” your on-line presence in order to increase your off-line opportunity.
- Make your web pages local friendly: The obvious place to start your localization is your web site and specifically how your web site lets the search engines know you are a local business. You do this by adding local or geographic‐based content, for example names of your city, local towns and suburbs, local landmarks and other locally recognizable features. It’s the stuff that people search for locally when they’re looking for things. You can also enhance your site with maps and geographic content. Include local features in your links and external anchors, and even create local landing pages.
- Build out your local search profiles: There are a number of local profile sites such as Yahoo, Bing, and Google, who allow you to claim and describe your business. These sites are important for a business that wants to put a face to their name as they allow images and videos along with keywords, categories and services. Fee based services such as Google Boost and Google Tag can get help you get noticed too.
- Encourage on-line reviews: Review sites like Yelp, LivingSocial, CitySearch and MerchantCircle, along with the major search engines, allow for customer comments and reviews that can separate your business from others. Establish your presence on these sites and work with your customers to encourage reviews, feedback, and comments as a part of your referral program One way to educate customers and partners the positive impact of reviews is to host a review event for their customers as a means to stimulate positive reviews. This also gives you the opportunity to network with their community and customers. Obviously once your business is on the site you’ll need to incorporate an active monitoring routine into your marketing calendar.
- Get listed, cited and mentioned – Listings are another source that can make it easy for you to ‘get found’. Entries into local directories, internet yellow pages, and other sites that aggregate local businesses add to your local awareness. An easy place to start and validate your localization efforts is GetListed.org which will show your “claim” on the major sites. In addition there are businesses that compile business data as a paid service to others. You may have used a site like infoUSA for direct mailing lists. Chances are your business is in one of their databases too. You can edit, change and enhance the information as a means to add to your local credibility. For a fee, companies like Universal Business Listings (www.ubl.org) will manage the insertion of your data into numerous directories, including mobile services – think On-Star, and help you manage the information listed. In addition, UBL will establish links on those directories to your site, creating backlinks that are important for SEO.
- Utilize local social media: Social media has become a vital component in marketing strategies. Your direct involvement in using on-line to get off-line (o2o) will get you noticed locally. Major sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn allow you to interact at the local level and create awareness for your business. Taking your community off-line for local groups, networking events, Tweetups, and Meetups, allow you to cultivate deeper connections with the members of these communities.
Getting found locally, while sounding easy, can be a daunting task. This checklist will give you at least some awareness to a few steps and tools that can help you. Please feel free to share your story and experience with us – we love to hear how businesses use these ideas.
If you are interested in learning more about how to integrate local search into your marketing strategy , contact us to enroll in our on-line course, Local Search Pro, powered by Duct Tape Marketing. Also, please see our Revenue Generation Services section on our web site on ways that Valens Point can help your marketing strategy and effort.
What actions do you have planned to help prepare for next year? This checklist will help you concentrate on the New Year by creating actions in this quarter that enhance your success.
1. Review Current Projects: Capture lessons learned, customer stories, and case studies.
The delivery of your product or services reveals many aspects of your business, and improving delivery is a crucial element to evolve your business. If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to look at the positive and negative experiences of the years’ projects. The value of your business is in the stories and experience of your best projects and customers. Capture and record these in order to improve your service, build case studies, and illustrate the benefit you provide.
2. Survey customers to measure satisfaction and look for opportunity.
It is a best practice to conduct periodic customer satisfaction surveys, which are ideally completed immediately after a project or customer experience. This type of survey is meant to capture the satisfaction of the customer in order to address issues or validate your processes and outcomes. But, this type of survey can also help identify your customer’s motivation for doing business with you. How did they come to Know, Like and Trust your business? What problem was actually solved? Understanding their level of satisfaction and why they do business with you is necessary input for your strategy and plans.
3. Validate your core difference and refine ideal customer definition.
Successful businesses are continually refining their core difference. What may have helped you standout from the crowd could become commonplace. Ensure this doesn’t happen by validating the “thing” that separates you from the competition. The last quarter of the year is a great time to verify that the difference you have created is still attractive to your market.
A small business best practice is to narrow your market focus and this begins with a clear definition of your ideal customer. Review your current customers and validate their profile against your existing ideal customer thoughts. If there are differences you should consider their impact on your marketing strategy and adjust accordingly.
4. Update your business and marketing plans, budgets, and your marketing calendar.
Include the knowledge you have gained from the previous points to update your Marketing Plan, Budget and Calendar. Be specific with your plans and establish the actions and the measurements you can use to gauge success. Your marketing plan should include the development of content, service innovation, execution of seasonal programs, advertisement, and the other elements that you will require your marketing focus and effort next year. Don’t forget to include any external conditions that affect your marketing efforts. For example: are there deadlines for industry publications or trade shows that you need to be consider? You’ll feel more confident in your marketing effort and increase your success by having a documented plan, budget and calendar.
5. Update your referral marketing system resources with current material.
Referrals drive many small businesses and word of mouth advertisement is a significant means of business growth. Your referral marketing engine needs to be periodically tuned with updated case stories, references, education material, and programs. Optimizing your referral marketing system begins with delivering a remarkable experience and being referral-worthy. The knowledge you have gained from the previous points should be reflected in your referral marketing system resources, especially great customer stories and your core difference. Your customers and partners should understand your ideal customer profile and how best to refer business to you. By updating your system resources you’ll ensure the engine is propelling your forward next year.
Does your business have a unique planning task for the New Year? We would love to hear about the actions in your checklist and the successes that have delivered in past years?
If you have questions about any of the checklist items or if you would like to discuss specific actions for your business please contact us.
Entrepreneur is the magazine for the small business community. Stay up to date with the latest business trends, opportunities, movers and shakers. Here you can also join the Entrprenueur connect network where you can share ideas and establish meaningful connections with others like yourself. Visit www.entrepreneur.com
Here you will find many great tips and information written by WSJ journalist. Visit http://guides.wsj.com/small-business/
OPEN Forum by American Express is a community of business owners like you. OPEN Forum gives businesses the tools to connect and collaborate. Tools like the ConnectodexSM, which can help generate new leads by intelligently matching businesses with similar needs and interests. And the Idea Hub, a digital trading post of ideas and insights from industry experts and owners. Exclusive articles, videos, discussion boards and events listings can help businesses get informed and inspired. Visit www.openforum.com for more information.
The Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) represents America’s Small Business Development Center Network — the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories. The mission of the network is to help new entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership, and to assist existing businesses to remain competitive in the complex marketplace of an ever-changing global economy.
For more information go to www.asbdc.org.
“Counselors to America’s Small Business Owners” (SCORE) is a national association dedicated to helping small business owners form and grow their businesses. Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia and Washington D.C., SCORE has 364 chapters in the United States as well as in U.S territories. SCORE is a partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You can find more information at www.score.org