Referral Marketing Communications Plan — Tip #1: Ask!

Referral Marketing Communications Plan ConversationIt’s disappointing how many business people tell me they don’t regularly receive referrals from their existing customers. When you dig a little deeper, however, the reason becomes clear: Most times, they’re not asking for referrals!

You might feel that if people are happy with the products and services you deliver, they’ll naturally tell others. While this is sometimes true, guess what… it’s not necessarily so. There are three main reasons people don’t refer friends and acquaintances, even when they like doing business with you and are very satisfied:

  1. Laziness. Most of us are lazy. We don’t go out of our way to do something unless there’s something in it for us.
  2. They forget. Out of sight, out of mind. Once the transaction is complete, or they use your product, they forget about you – unless there’s something that brings you to top-of-mind again.
  3. No one asked them to! It sounds crazy, but just asking someone to refer you can increase the amount of referrals you receive. All you have to do is ask!

While asking for referrals doesn’t have to be complicated, there are some guidelines that will likely make your request more successful:

  • Ask at the right time. Right after your customer has received great service is the perfect time to ask for a referral. The experience is fresh in their minds, and they’re more likely to have strong positive feelings they won’t hesitate to share.
  • Ask when you’re having personal contact. When your client is in front of you or on the phone with you, or when you’re wrapping up a series of personal email exchanges is a great time to ask for a referral. That personal interaction increases the chances of a positive response.
  • Ask specifically. “Do you know anyone else who might be interested in our services?” is a great question, but even better is, “Who do you know who might also like to offload some of their accounting services to a responsible bookkeeper?” is better.
  • Ask for all the information you need. Getting a name is useless without an email address or phone number! If your customer doesn’t have the information on hand, set a specific time to call them to follow up (call – don’t email – because emails are too easy to ignore).

Asking for a marketing referral may seem uncomfortable at first, but practice makes perfect. Do it enough times and it will become a natural part of your interaction with your customers – with fantastic results.

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