How To Generate Referrals the Right Way

Referrals are essentially the gold standard in advertising. They’re organic, non-intrusive, and highly persuasive, coming from someone the referee already knows and likely trusts. Still, generating these referrals can be an arduous task. Some business owners simply don’t know how to encourage clients to refer them, while others go about it in ham-fisted ways.

If you’re looking to generate referrals for your business, the most important thing to understand is why your client might suggest your services or products to someone else. While your first thought may be that they do it as a kindness to you as the business owner, the fact is that most people give referrals because they simply want to be helpful to the people around them. Being able to provide information to a friend or a solution to a problem they’re having can provide a great sense of satisfaction.

One strategy business owners often use to produce referrals is baiting clients with some sort of incentive for recommending their services, such as an affiliate program, free products, or discounts. This practice is actually misguided. Because people want to feel as if they’re being helpful rather than simply advertising your business, they aren’t likely to respond to something that asks explicitly for their endorsement. Indeed, if they feel that they’re benefiting more from the recommendation than the person they are recommending to, they may be put off of giving it altogether. Incentive programs more or less kill the satisfaction a client gets from giving a referral.

Successful referral generation is all about catering to your clients’ natural impulse to help the people around them, and there are several ways you can go about it. The most obvious of these is simply providing your clients with the best experience possible while working with them, something you assumedly strive for regardless. If your clients are highly satisfied with the results of their relationship with you, then recommending your business to their friends, family, and cohorts seems like a no-brainer- they know for a fact that they are giving good advice.

Creating content that can be used as informational aides is another way of generating organic, effective referrals. The vast majority of referrals are those that come up in natural conversation between your client and another party. With this in mind, you can consider what kind of conversation your business might come up in or be related to, identify the questions that may come up, and provide information that can answer them. When your client eventually does encounter such a conversation, they can then connect the other party with the information and/or materials that you’ve made available. In the same vein, you might make a gift card available for clients to share in these conversations, allowing them to easily provide something with real monetary value to the other individual. As an added bonus, gift cards are useful in making prospective clients visible to you, as they can be easily traceable.

Whatever strategy you may choose, remembering the true motivations behind giving a recommendation is an absolute must if you are to see any success in your campaign. Combined with a good grasp on what technique is best suited to your business, keeping this impulse in mind will help you gain more of those ever-valuable referrals than ever before.


Justin Starbird

About the Author: Justin Starbird I have been fortunate to have had several entrepreneurs that came before me take the time to “pull back the curtains” and allow me to be a part of their multi-million dollar companies… and actually value my input. They allowed me to see their mistakes and learn from their real-world lessons so that I wouldn’t have to pay the expensive costs of experience on my own. Additionally, they taught me what really works and the importance of action - not just ideas.

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