March 15, 2016

Asking For Referrals

branding marketingWord of mouth marketing has been proven, time and time again, to be the #1 way that consumers build trust in brands and companies.  In part this is because authentic word of mouth – when I tell you about Company X just because I love it – comes with no strings attached.  I, as the teller, isn’t gaining in any way from telling you about this other than hoping that you experience the same joy I did when interacting with the company, eating the product, enjoying the service.  

Even though we, as smart business owners, know this to be true, we rarely ask for people to recommend us to their friends and family.  Maybe it’s because it feels a little too salesman-like when we do it, but more often than not, small businesses hope that good word of mouth will be spread simply by offering up great services and products.   While the customers you serve may be very impressed with what you’re offering, they have a ton of stuff going on in their lives and it’s probably not even a thought to refer your company to someone else.

A report by Texas Tech University found that 83% of consumers were willing to refer a business after they had a great experience with it but only 29% did.

But if you ask them…funny how that works but it’s true….if you specifically ask a customer to refer your business to someone else they are far more likely to do it.   And this is why the asking part is key.  Research shows that customers who are referred to your business spend more and stay longer with your company than those who find you randomly.  Best of all, for the random folks you’re either hoping that blind luck puts them in your path or spending time/money trying to market to them.  With word of mouth marketing, it doesn’t cost you anything other than doing a great job…and asking for that referral.

How you ask will depend on your business but a few ideas include straight out asking if the person you’re working with, for example, during a catering gig, corporate events, wedding cake design, etc knows anyone else who could use their services.  Specifically ask that they recommend your business to those people.  Or if you’re at a farmers’ market or festival, close a sale by telling the customer how much you appreciate your business and that, as a small business owner, it would mean the world to you if they would recommend you company to their friends and family.   If you ship your products online, include a note in their order asking that if they love your product they refer your company (you may also want to offer a special ‘friends and family’ discount as an added thank you).  If you sell through stores, ask people to share their thoughts, images, etc of your product on social media.

There are hundreds of different and creative ways to ask for referrals but the first part is the most important….you must be willing to ask.

I’d love to know how you ask for referrals in your business or some great examples you’ve seen other small businesses use.

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