Most small business owners miss the boat when it comes to getting a constant flow of referrals because they start off looking in all the wrong places.
If they seek referrals at all, most small business owners think only of their clients. Now, your existing clients can be a good source of referrals. And when you think about it, who better to sing your praises than someone who has actually experienced your rare abilities.
The problem though is that your existing clients don't have much motivation. They may be in a position to send you referrals but they won't think of you day in and day out, and that's what your referral marketing effort really needs.
When it comes to figuring out a referral marketing system, the number one question you need to answer is this. Who is, or can be convinced to be, highly motivated to refer business to me.
When you look at it from that point of view you begin to realize that no matter who you approach you better be able to propose a motivation that has something in it for them.
In most cases, the best referral sources, those that can be motivated, are businesses like yours that sell to the same target market. These non-competing businesses should be looked at courted like one of your primary target market sectors.
You marketing efforts should include very specific plans to attract, educate and motivate this target market. . .just as it would for the end user of your product or service.
The payoff with this kind of thinking is two-fold. I believe that almost any prospect that comes your way by way of a referral will generally be more qualified and likely a better fit. In addition, a highly targeted marketing effort pointed at referral sources can be one of the best ways to leverage your limited time and marketing dollars.
Properly marketed to, a good referral marketing partner could potentially send you handfuls of clients for about the same effort most businesses expend to land one self-generated client.
There can be many ways to motivate this type of referral lead source. You likely have something they want or can at least propose a way for them to get more of what they want. I'm afraid it's hard to say the same for your clients.
One of the best way to put this thinking on steroids is to think in terms of building your very own strategic referral partnership network. Try to fill every need your clients have by plugging in and referring members of your private network. If you do this, you will never need to search for business again.
Copyright 2005 John Jantsch