If the best advertising is word-of-mouth, it should stand to reason that successful marketing should stem from customer referrals, right? Why are they so hard to get, though? I’m going to show you why you’re not getting the referrals you need and why they are so important, and how to get them so you can take your business to the next level.
Why we don’t get referrals
It feels like bragging. I get that – nobody wants to toot their own horn. But the truth of it is, if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody will do it for you! I’ve also found out though, that if you do toot your own horn to folks who have enjoyed your services or products, they’ll step up and toot right along with you! Therefore, gathering customer referrals isn’t bragging, it’s the process of researching happy customers who’s lives you’ve made better. If they really believe this, you’ll have no problem getting them to say so.
We don’t ask for them. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Harvey Mackay will tell you to “always ask for the sale”. I’ve successfully landed jobs in the past (including the one I have now) because I made sure that the last thing I did in the interview was ask for the job. Asking for things shows you’re interested and that whatever response you get is important to you.
We’re asking the wrong questions. This one is tough, no doubt. You think that because you’re stepping outside your comfort zone and actually asking for the referral you’re going to get it and you don’t. The client never returns the email, fills out the form or returns the call. It’s not because they don’t want to give you a good referral, it’s because you’re probably asking the wrong way.
How to ask for a referral
Be specific. Ask a particular type of client about a very specific project you worked on for them. Don’t blast an email out to all your clients asking for a generic referral – that almost never works. (I know this because I’ve tried it – ulp!)
Be Authentic. The secret to getting great and plentiful customer referrals is to live great customer service as a lifestyle choice. The culture of your business needs to be so permeated with the idea of wowing the customer, that leaving a great referral is contagious.
Being authentic leads to genuine tribe-building as well. I’ve actually seen places where it would almost peg the customer as weird if they left a less than stellar review. Places like Zappos and Apple come to mind. Wouldn’t you love to be that kind of company? Where folks expected to be treated well so fluidly that if you had an off day, they might think it was their fault. Crazy!
Be Available. People will not respond without an outlet to do so. Make it easy for customers to leave feedback wherever they have a connection to you, be it Facebook, Twitter, your podcast or your blog. If you have a book on Amazon, keep careful track of your reviews and ratings. All of it matters.
Remember that everyone’s a salesman. That includes your customers, clients and friends. They can become powerful allies as you build your brand. Michael Hyatt got about 30 endorsements for his book Platform. These “gate keepers” are the ones that will connect you to people who don’t know you or your products, but know them.
Give a high priority to customer feedback, and your customers will hold a higher regard for you, as well. Here's how: http://t.co/wvIdqvR4
— Upward Media (@upwardmedia) September 30, 2012
What it boils down to is that endorsements and customer-referrals can not only give you the push you need to reach the next level, they provide valuable insight into how your real, authentic customers and friends see you, which can help you with planning your next big thing. Give a high priority to customer feedback, and your customers will hold a higher regard for you, as well.