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The best way to market your business is through word-of-mouth marketing, otherwise known as referrals from existing customers. Referrals are very effective for gaining new business and they do not cost as much as traditional marketing tactics. Knowing this, it is surprising how many entrepreneurs have a problem asking their customers for referrals. One might assume that asking for referrals portrays desperation, or could raise the red flag and lead customers to wonder if your business is doing well. These assumptions are unfounded.

If you are not currently focused on generating more referrals for your business, you need to start now. People who are referred to your business are more likely to make a purchase based off the recommendation of someone they trust. Here are 20 tactics you can use to generate more referrals for your business, which will help accelerate your revenue and growth.

1. Ask your customers directly.

Ask your customers for referrals

The best way to gain referrals is by being direct and asking clients to send them your way. This request can be done via email, online, in-person or at the bottom of your invoices. If you provide value to your clients, they will have no problem referring potential clients to you. They may already be doing this without you asking if you are exceeding their expectations.

2. Focus on clients you have a great relationship with.

Focus on clients you have a great relationship

Even though they are your customers, not everyone who purchases from you has a connection with you that goes beyond buying your products or services. This is why you should focus on requesting for referrals from customers who see you as more than a service provider. These clients will make stronger recommendations since they want to play a part in helping your business grow and securing your success.

3. Provide value.

provide value increase your referrals

You can create a loyal customer base by exceeding their expectations and constantly providing them with value. Value can be as simple as sending interesting links to your customers, writing blog content, or creating an e-book. Always have a call-to-action for your customers to share the information you sent across with someone else who could benefit from having that knowledge.

4.Thank those who send you referrals

Thank those who send you referrals

Recognise your clients who send you referrals, even if the referee does not convert. This shows that you appreciate their effort and encourages them to continue the behavior. For your top referrers, present them with a gift or offer them a discount on your services. You would want to reward clients who make sure your business is consistently growing.

5. Ask when a project is going great.

Ask referrals when a project is going great

One of the best times to ask for a referral is when your client is excited about the progress taking place. If they are happy about the level of service they are receiving, they will be more than willing to share their enthusiasm with others. Ask them to share the experience of having you undertake their project with others who may be in need of the same services.

6.Send personal request.

send personal request

Generic referral requests do not always work because they are not crafted to communicate in an effective way that gets people to respond. You would want to create and send across individual referral requests based on your clients’ personalities. This helps to get a better and stronger response that leads to new customers being sent your way.

7. Make sure your contact information is known.

show contact info to referrals

The only way your clients can send you new customers is if they have your contact information readily available. Make sure your office and cell numbers are stored in their phone or listed in the signature of your emails. Also, be sure that they have your email address and your social media accounts. You never want to miss out on a potential client because of something as insignificant as a customer not knowing how to contact you.

8.Think of creative ways.

think of creative ways

There may be some clients who feel uncomfortable pushing your services to their family or friends. You will need to come up with a different way to utilise them as a source of referrals. This can be done by having them leave a testimonial or review of your services on your website. They can also be part of a case study that demonstrates problem-solving through your services. Think outside the box.

9.Offer motivation.

offer referral for motivation

A gift may seem like bribery but it is a great way to get people to follow through on the requests have of them. You can provide incentives such as a discount, a gift basket, a gift card,or any other small gesture that makes them feel special. Let clients know that your referral campaign includes a reward for every client that you earn. This motivates them to send qualified leads your way.

10. Be specific in your request.

be specific in your request

Being too vague in your request can lead to people sending you the wrong candidates. For better results, be specific so that you get exactly who you need. For example, if you are a business consultant, tell your clients to send you people who are in need of growth strategies instead of merely “consulting”.

11. Have referral requests on your marketing materials.

Have referral requests on your marketing materials

Leave a referral space on your business cards, email signatures, flyers, and other marketing materials. This acts as a reminder for your existing customers to send new prospects your way.

This small inclusion can lead to your clients actively participating in the referral process.

12. Practice referral fees and commission.

practice referral fees and commission

A great incentive is to pay your customers for referring new customers to your business – payment is received once the referral becomes a customer. You do not only have to include your customers in this system. You can also recruit local businesses who are located near you. If they are a frequent referrer, you can give them a percentage of sales. You have now outsourced your sales team, which is less expensive than having an in-house sales team.

Related Article: 9 tips help employees become effective problem solvers

13. Make it easy for them to refer.

easy for them to refer

Make the referral process as easy for your customers as possible so that they participate actively in referring new customers. Provide them with examples of how they can refer your services to others. You can create a template for them that they can easily recite from or copy and paste from when talking over the phone or sending emails.

14. Use your email signature.

Use your email signature

You use your email every day to stay in contact with your customers, so use it as a tool to gain more customers. Indicate your referral programme in bold print on your email signature.

15. Send your client a referral.

Send your client a referral

If your clients operate their own businesses, send referrals their way to help their business grow. The referral process is a two-way activity that is based upon goodwill. When you send referrals to your clients, they will return the goodwill and double their efforts in sending referrals back to you.

16. Stay-in-touch with your clients.

Stay in touch with your clients

You would always want to stay in touch with your clients for the simple fact that you want to create a long-lasting relationship and build customer loyalty. If your clients see that you are constantly staying in contact with them, this is a good indication that you are always working to ensure their needs are met. This is the sort of information you would want them to share with others.

Related Article: 42 ways to improve your customer service experience

17. Stay active on LinkedIn.

stay active on linkedIn

LinkedIn is a great source for referrals and introductions to people who are in need of your services. Since LinkedIn is for professionals, you can utilise it to connect with those within your target market, and introduce yourself and your business to them. Be sure that your LinkedIn page is updated with compelling information. In addition, consistently share great content that communicates your expertise and knowledge.

18. Ask clients to share your Facebook page.

clients to share your facebook page

Encourage the clients who are already fans of your Facebook page to share your page with others. On your Facebook page, you need to have call-to-action content that motivates people to sign-up for your email list or to contact you to inquire about your services.

19. Join a referral networking group.

referral networking group

Referral groups are full of business owners who understand the importance of referrals. Develop relationships with these individuals so that you can be first in their mind to contact when a potential client who fits your target profile comes their way.

20. Make clients your first priority.

Make clients your first priority

Always work with the intention of providing your clients with the absolute best value, rather than the amount of money you can get out of them. Give your existing clients special offers and discounts that are not available to the general public. When your clients feel special, they will make sure that your business remains prosperous and thriving.

Focus on generating referrals for your company. Leave the rest to us.

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