A study by market research firm, Nielsen, showed that 92% of customers trust recommendations that came from friends and family. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing force that is based on trust that you can nurture and have consistently in your business. Best of all, it is cost-effective compared to other marketing strategies.
A wonderful analogy for a business is a web of connections. The truth is that every person that your startup interacts with has his or her network of people your business can give value to.
Here are six solid ways to get more referrals for your startup business.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask
The first way is to just ask for the referral from your current network of friends, colleagues, family and an initial bunch of customers. Ask them nicely if they could refer your business to their network. You might even throw in a little cash incentive for every referral they bring to you.
2. Over-deliver with your current group of customers
The only way your current customers will refer you to their network is when you delight them and provide way more value than they expected. Marketing guru, Seth Godin, always reminds startups to be purple cows by standing out from competition through excellent products and customer service.
Let the uniqueness of your brand stand out and unleash happiness on your customers. That is the only way your current customers will proclaim on their social media platforms that everyone should try your products and services.
You can over-deliver by managing expectations and not making them expect too much. You can also be exceptional in after-sales service.
Tip: give them a bonus after you have successfully provided the product or service to them.
3. Make sure your contact information is accessible and easy to share for people to share.
This means that your contact information (email, website) is in all your business materials, including your invoices, email signatures, marketing materials and of course, social media. This allows your contact information to be accessible and easy to share by those who interact with you.
Business cards are not dead provided you make them unique and related to your business. Give them away freely even if the person may just be an acquaintance. There’s still the chance they might refer you to their friends especially if they respect and think highly of you.
Finally, make sure that your contact details in your customer’s mobile phone so that they can easily share your details with the right people.
Make it easy for them by providing your brochures, latest newsletter or any of your marketing materials that they can easily distribute that will describe what you offer to the market.
4. Optimize your website for conversion
Optimize your website so that there are plenty of calls to action there that will influence your website visitors to share or refer the site or content to others.
If you have an online store, make a request for referral at the end of the successful transaction. They just had a positive experience with you, and they will be more receptive to a request to refer your product or service to their network.
4. Be helpful
If you want to get referrals, you should also be willing to make referrals especially the services or products your current clients promote. Of course, only do it if you truly believe in what they are offering. By creating a win-win scenario, you boost trust and gratitude from your existing clients and the law of reciprocity will now take over and they will also gladly promote your business to their network.
5. Stay in touch with current and previous clients and associates
At the end of the day, referrals work because of relationships. So strengthen your existing relationships and warm up those previous relationships in your network. Catch up with them through email, chat or a quick cup of coffee. This helps you to know their current situation so that you can help give suggestions or give help personally or through recommendations.
Optimize your email marketing so that you can create customized lists of customers and associates who might like a specific type of content. Then regularly send relevant material to them so that their information needs can be met. Plus, they will be thankful that they’re always on your mind.
By nurturing your relationships, you’ll always be on the top of their minds when it comes to the industry you are operating in.
6. Treat those that referred you to new clients very well
To those that referred you already to new customers, you should treat them like VIPs. Give them a call or write them a personalized note to thank them for referring others to your business. Find time to treat them to coffee or a quick meal. Alternatively, if you have an existing referral payment system, promptly pay them along with a personalized call or note.
If possible, host a party once in a while with those that played a big role in growing your business through their referrals.
This strategy will nurture your relationships with them further, and they will gladly continue to be your biggest ambassadors to their network
Getting referrals is probably the best way to grow your business especially if it is a localized business and if you do not have a big marketing budget. Always remember that the heart of the business is all about relationships. Don’t see business as just transactions. Behind the transaction are real people with which you can nurture win-win relationships for the long-term.