The Forgotten Part of Referral Marketing
Referral marketing is all the buzz these days, and in fact we use it quite heavily in Small Fish. The idea is that your customers are out there talking to people every day, and if you do it right, they send you customers on a regular basis. It’s powerful, and it works well when done right.
You can find all kinds of resources, seminars and consultants who are prepared to help you put this in place for your business. But I find it odd that there’s a fundamental part of this process that many people are ignoring.
You do business with a customer. The transaction is done, so you ask them if they could please send referrals your way. If you do this skillfully, they don’t feel like you’re pushing them beyond their comfort zone. Perhaps you even offer a little token of thanks when people do this.
But the core part of this process is that your customer must be extremely satisfied with the product or service you sold them. We all have many examples of “horror stories” that people tell about bad business experiences – in fact, there’s a bit of a perverse pleasure in telling and re-telling stories like that. These stories actively drive customers away.
But most of the experiences you have as a customer are, well, rather ordinary. I regularly patronize a certain grocery store, but it’s mostly because it’s close and I know the store layout. If they asked me to send referrals, would I ever bother? No, because I don’t want my friends to think that I’m an idiot for recommending a store that’s, well, ordinary. At most, I’ll tell them where I bought something if they ask, but I’m not going to rave on and on about how they just MUST visit it. And, honestly, I don’t care if they do.
On the other hand, there’s businesses that I do rave about. There’s that restaurant with the unbelievable chocolate desserts. The dinner theatre with great performances and good prices. The airline that I flew back in 2007 that absolutely blew us away.
It’s the quality of service that makes the difference. If I’m going to recommend someone to a business I want to be almost guaranteed that they’ll have as good an experience as I had.
If you want referrals, deliver excellent service. Then, when you ask customers to refer you to their friends, they’ll do it.
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