Referral Marketing Communications Plan — Tip #2: Set Up a Successful Referral Lead Generation Process

Referral Marketing Communications Plan woman on headset phoneA recent article in a sales magazine told of the experiences of a veteran successful sales manager. He said that when his team received stacks of business cards and leads after a trade show or sales promotion, often the leads just sat, untouched, on the desks, or worse, ended up in the garbage. Not good! Hundreds – possibly thousands of leads – left to wither and die. Just imagine the lost business… Is that what you want for your company or store?

If you don’t have a marketing strategy to handle your referrals as part of your marketing mix, you might be losing the same referral business. Here’s how you can create a successful referral marketing communications plan:

  1. Map it out. You ask your client for a referral, and you get one. Great! Now what? If you get the name on a card or sheet, where does that go? If you get it via email, who receives it and answers it?
    Grab a large piece of paper or a mind-mapping software program and go step-by-step through your process. Start with the request for a referral and keep asking yourself “Now what? Now what? Now what?” until you’ve worked the entire way through your process and that referral has been converted to a customer.
  2. Get buy-in. Rare is the referral marketing program that is handled by one person. Usually someone – a web master, a Virtual Assistant (VA), a co-worker – helps at one or more steps processing the referral. Identify those who will need to help you, what they’ll be responsible for, and get them excited about the benefits.
  3. Look for problems. After you’ve implemented your referral process according to your map, give it a month or so. Then come back and re-analyze it. Is there a referral “bottleneck” at a particular step? Are referrals going off-track… getting lost? Figure out where and why, and fix it.
  4. Refine. Times change and people change. Your wizard VA disappears to some place without internet access. You decide to stop your Twitter and Facebook social marketing activity. You revamp your entire business. As a result, you need to revisit and refine your referral marketing process as your business changes and your customer profiles evolve. Everything might still be working well, but you may need to adjust things to accommodate how referrals are coming to you, or how you’re contacting new leads.

Processes can seem stilted and, for some people, boring. But getting it down and getting it right is a critical step to making your referrals pay off.

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