The Complete Guide to Getting More Referrals

Referrals are one of the best ways for you to market your small business. Period.

Think about what a referral means to you—someone is directly recommending your services and sending you a lead that is pre-qualified and ready to do business. Getting a referral is like getting a free endorsement and a free prospect. To top it all off, that free prospect already has a relationship with you by way of your mutual friend.

So how do you go about getting more referrals? Read more to find out.

  1. Open your conversations with a bang To put things simply, everyone is looking for a referral. If you want to be the company that actually gets the referrals, then you’ll need to be remembered first. A good place to start is your opening conversation, where people will form their first impressions. The best article I’ve found about opening with a bang is this one from Copyblogger. It happens to be about blogging, but just replace “blog post” with “conversation” and you’ll be fine.
  2. Have a great story Again, this is about being remembered. If you want people to tell their friends about you then you’ll need to have something for them to say. Give them a great story, and they’ll be more than happy to repeat it. Check out our post about mission statements and this other article about marketing stories to learn how to develop a great story for your small business.
  3. Build relationships with everyone Referrals are entirely based on relationships. If you want more referrals, you need to build more relationships. The key to this strategy is to build relationships with all sorts of people—even your competitors. Here’s a great resource to learn how to build relationships. (This one is also about bloggers, but just replace “bloggers” with “people” and it still applies.)
  4. Create valuable free content Offering free value is always a great way to market your small business. People will enjoy your resource and pass it along to friends. Before you know it you’ll have credibility, recommendations, and more referrals than you know what to do with. For some ideas about what free content you can create, check out: creating tutorials, and building an audio mini-course Both resources underscore the simple benefits of offering free value.
  5. Keep your customers happy Happy customers are your absolute best place to get referrals. Give them a great product or service, and they won’t hesitate to tell their friends. There are some more tips for keeping your clients happy in our article about ensuring repeat business.
  6. Contact your customers regularly If your customers forget about you then there is no chance for a referral. Make sure you keep yourself in your customers’ minds by contacting them regularly. It’s recommended you speak with each customer at least once a month. Click here for an article about getting referrals by staying in touch with your customers. Here’s another related article about getting referrals from email.
  7. All you have to do is Ask A friend and business acquaintance of mine just recently explained to me how he gets all of his referrals. I’ll sum it up using his words: “I ask every one of my clients, right when they start doing business with me, for two referrals. I keep reminding them along the way, and by the end of the job, they almost always have people for me.” You can get more information about Rocky by visitng his website. Also, here’s another article about getting referrals by asking.
  8. Offer a bribe If you’re doing everything else here, and you still want more referrals (are you crazy?) Then you can always offer people something in return for sending someone to you. A lot of small businesses I know offer a commission to customers who refer their friends. Alternatively, you could offer some of your services for free or at a discount.

Please leave a comment if you think I missed any good methods, or feel free to just throw in your thoughts. Otherwise, have fun getting more referrals!


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Reader Comments

Jul. 15. 2007 2:22 AM
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I saw #8’s title and it took me back for a minute - hah.  Very good list. It is hard to develop the skill of hooking people into your products and ideas, but this list gives some of most tried and true techniques for selling anything.

Ryan


Jul. 16. 2007 1:40 PM
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Ryan,

It’s interesting to note that this list does in fact apply to much more than just getting referrals. A lot of the list really will help your sales and overall marketing as well.

Much of small business comes down to the value of your story, your products and content, and your customer service. I really tried to help get people started with this article. Stay tuned for more of the same.


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