Business owners know all too well that finding the best qualified leads takes time… lots of time! So, what if there was a way to skip the time it takes to develop ‘cold leads?’ Now, close your eyes and imagine building a referral network. Even more, it won’t cost you a dime! Does that sound too good to be true?
It can be done by adapting referral networking. A referral network is a group of people who already know and trust you, understand your business concept and willing to refer people interested in buying your product or service. This is an extremely effective way to create a steady stream of very warm leads. Here are 4 tips to create a powerful referral marketing strategy.
Referral Marketing Tip 1: Build a strategic sales team
Do you know any companies to whom you share mutual customers with? You should be running, not walking to find who they are and how you can team up and benefit from each other. The key to this is to learn as much as you can about each company so that you can promote their products or service as you would your own. This new strategic sales team will enable your business to grow more rapidly as they will be working on your behalf. It makes so much sense to work smarter and not harder!
Referral marketing is simply bringing complementary businesses together that serves the same target customers but not considered direct competitors. For example, if you are a….
- Business Consultant, you might partner with an accountant, attorney, graphic designer and banker
- Business Writer, you might partner with a web designer, PR firm and ad agency
- Realtor, you might partner with a mortgage lender, appraiser, title service and home builders
- Maid Service, you might partner with landscape service, carpet cleaning service and handy man service
- Caterer, you might partner with florist, wedding planners and event facility manager
Referral Marketing Tip 2: Develop a marketing campaign
As you and your new ‘strategic sales team’ strategize, consider inexpensive and easy ways that you all can mutually benefit. Here are 3 easy to implement marketing ideas:
- Endorsement Letter: send out introductory letters to each of your contacts. Imagine if each of you had 500 contacts? In a 3-way partnership, you’ve been exposed to 1000 potential customers!
- E-newsletter: The use of e-newsletters has quickly come to be an indispensable component of the advertising campaigns of many businesses, large and small! If each of you published a monthly e-newsletter (that’s 12 times per year) that included a partner’s page, imagine with a click of a link, the potential traffic to your website? This is an easy, low-cost and profitable way to be introduced to warm leads! Consider increasing your chances by creating a landing page that includes a ‘free offer’ or ‘discount’ on specific services.
- Media: Are you using social media to market your business? Hopefully, the answer is yes! If so, create a marketing strategy using Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin to mutually benefit each partner. This is a great way to share information weekly or monthly. For example, I have over 3100 Twitter followers, 1000 Facebook Fans and 400 members in my Linkedin group. That’s 4500 potential customers that each of my strategic partners can benefit from.
Referral Marketing Tip 3: Go for the ‘ask’ with existing customers
Providing quality customer service is vital and should be an important part of your business model. Right? If you’ve spent time on relationship building, establishing communication, building trust and resolving potential problems or conflicts, then your customers will see little risk in recommending your company to their peers.
Just as people do business with people they know and trust, they also feel more comfortable when a product or service is recommended by someone they know and trust. A prospect that was referred to you has already been told about the quality and professionalism that you provide your customers with.
For customers that consistently refer prospects, consider creating a referral program; offering them a $50 referral fee, 20% commission off of initial sales of each prospect or a special gift.
Referral Marketing Tip 4: Create a Blog Network
As you regularly post relevant content, you build a loyal group of followers. Be patient as it takes time. As your followers get to know you, they will feel comfortable in passing on leads and referring you to potential clients. In addition:
- Invite guest bloggers to contribute fresh content and reciprocate.
- Interview subject matter experts. For example, I publish a monthly written interview series; ‘Successful Women Speak’ featuring established women authors and business owners. My subscribers receive informative and empowering content and the interviewees link the article from my blog to theirs, thus, driving new traffic to my blog.
I recently listened to the Tom Joyner Morning Show where blogger Necole Bitchy was being interviewed. A few years ago, she was unemployed and started a blog out of necessity. Today, NecoleBitchie.com is considered one of the fastest growing celebrity urban blog sites on the internet, with over 3 million hits per month. So, be persistent and consistent with your efforts.
In conclusion, there is enormous power in creating a strong referral network. It is not about getting sales, but developing strong relationships with people.
By Sylvia Browder
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sylvia Browder is founder of National Association Women on the Rise, a virtual community for aspiring and established women entrepreneurs. The association’s mission is to provide professional and personal resources while uplifting and empowering women entrepreneurs through collaboration, education, mentoring, spiritual and peer support, leadership and networking. She has served as an online volunteer SCORE counselor since 2004. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneurs, www.sylviabrowder.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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