CEO and Founder of Brand North. Digital Marketing & Growth Consulting. Results Based. Data Driven.
Referral sources can provide your company with plenty of business if you are looking for customers in the right places. Foundational referral sources include internet marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media and email marketing. If you aren’t doing this, you are limiting the reach of your business.
However, some of the best referral sources out there are your own customers. Whether they are previous or current customers, your business can receive a lot of referrals from them. Other referrals can include business contacts from other industries, real estate agents, contractors and many other professionals. Word-of-mouth marketing is just as important as marketing your business through traditional channels.
It’s vital to not put your eggs all in one basket, though, in the event that your biggest referral source disappears. When you lose your biggest referral source, hopefully, you still have leads coming in from other methods. While you can contact these leads and convert them into paying customers, you need to work on getting your biggest source back on track.
Why do referral sources dry up?
One of the biggest reasons referral sources dry up is that the referral moves out of your region or you have failed to stay top of mind. The loss of a referral can also occur because the person no longer owns their company, they changed professions or they no longer interact with people who are considered your ideal customer. As much as you might try to keep a referral source because of the volume they provide, sometimes it’s just not in the cards.
MORE FOR YOU
Increasing Your Referral Sources
Dealing with the loss of a major referral source can be devastating and overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to put you behind the eightball. There are four important steps you can take to boost your referrals after losing your biggest source.
Try to identify what it is these customers have in common with one another. This could potentially help you find other customers with similarities who might refer you at your request.
Step 1: Ask yourself five important questions.
Now that you have built a list of current referral sources and compared them to one another, you need to ask yourself five questions:
• Where is your business coming from?
• Which sources bring you your ideal client, and which sources bring you bad clients?
• What can you do to build new relationships or strengthen relationships with people who already have built-in trust with your ideal clients?
• Do they have a relationship with your ideal client?
• Do they already have trust with your ideal client?
The final two questions on this list are vital to finding new referral sources. The process can be much smoother when your referral sources already have relationships built on trust with your ideal clients. When there is a relationship built on trust in place, the people referred to you are more likely to contact you for service than if they receive the recommendation from someone they just met or don’t have any trust in.
If you are a new business, you might not have developed the vision for an ideal client yet. It might take a bit of time to decide what your ideal client should look like. This vision will vary based on the industry in which you operate. As your business expands, be sure to review your vision of an ideal client. Make any necessary adjustments and be sure to speak with your referral sources so they know who they should be referring to you.
In order to succeed in any industry, you don’t need hundreds of referral sources. Two or three great referral sources can make all the difference.
Step 2: Create brand champions.
Now is the time to add more clients to your list as referral sources. In order to succeed at this step, you will need to reach out to both current and former clients and people who have a vested interest in your success. Friends, past colleagues and even acquaintances are fine, but you can go further and keep these people updated on your business.
Send them an email once in a while just to let them know how you are doing. Don’t ask for anything; just update them on your thoughts and plans to keep them in the loop. A simple email could lead to business from new clients in the weeks and months after it’s sent.
Step 3: Create new brand champions.
My team spoke with an office furniture store that created new brand champions out of referrals that came from their website. An influential commercial real estate broker walked into the store after finding it online. Personnel treated him with great customer service like they treat all of their clients.
After he was done with his purchase, the owner of the furniture store visited the customer in-person to make sure he was happy with everything he received. Not only did this result in a five-star review but also the owner has kept in touch with him, speaking about business and current events. This new relationship has developed into several referrals.
When seeking new brand champions, ensure you’re considering:
• The industries in which they work.
• Specific job roles they hold.
• Associations or organizations to which they belong.
Step 4: Review and solidify your list.
Now that you have built a list of potential new referrals, it’s time to review and solidify the list. You will need to answer three questions in this step:
• Compare the lists from steps one and three. Are there any patterns?
• Compare brand champions currently referring you to the ones you listed in step three. Are there any patterns?
• Review your ideal brand champion profile. Do you know where those brand champions meet or with whom they do business?
You can now create an action plan to contact these people and turn them into valuable referral sources for your business.