In a previous post about boosting your freelancing career, we delved into the invaluable contributions that word-of-mouth marketing (or WOM) can bring to your small business. At the top of the “How to get more clients” list, and apart from word of mouth, stand “referrals”. If you’re looking for creative ways to generate leads for your business, read on.
Referrals are a surefire way to generate new business leads that are highly likely to become loyal customers. Remember the last time you wanted to buy something – didn’t you ask someone you know and trust for some tips? I’m confident you did because this is how sales work most of the time!
Getting clients from referrals means you’ve created a trustworthy and credible brand for your products or services. It’s also a great way to strengthen your brand even more and establish your small business marketing strategy to reach out to your niche groups.
Generate business leads without feeling awkward
Many small business owners are uncomfortable asking for referrals. It’s only natural since it puts you in a supplicatory position. In this article, we are going to provide you with 8 creative ways to generate leads for your business via referrals, elegantly and successfully.
To make that happen, you need to put in place some effective referral strategies. Choose the one that suits your company culture and make appropriate adjustments to your needs and industry.
Let’s dive in!
1. Don’t ask for referrals
The first rule of the “Referral club” is “never talk about referrals”. By that we mean you shouldn’t ask your existing clients to refer their friends or family. The key element to getting more clients for your small business is to give incentives to your already engaged ones. This way you don’t ask clients for favors they are not willing to gratify for a number of reasons. Which leads us to an actual strategy to generate new business leads…
2. Come up with incentives
You can give satisfied clients special gifts along with their own purchases, addressed to their close friends and associates, to show you honor their loyalty towards your brand. These special gifts can be popular items or discount coupons, or a free sample of your services available only to their contacts.
3. Make the referral process easy
No one has your referral gifts on top of their to-do list. This is the number one reason why asking for referrals doesn’t work quite as well as many people think. Therefore, you need to take matters into your hands. Ask for their friends’ contact details and send out the gifts yourself.
Bonus points: Those referrals get to experience your quality customer services before converting into actual clients. Plus, your clients will be delighted to know their associates appreciated “their” gifts and will come back for more. They may spread the word even further than their close circle and generate new business leads for you!
4. Create an affiliates platform
An affiliate program is an “official” referral management software. It enables your customers to bring in leads while gaining some sort of commission for themselves or discount for their referrals. It automates the referral process to everyone’s advantage and handles the distribution of discounts for you. You are happy for two major reasons:
- Referrals don’t get to become an overhead
- You get a constant influx of referrals effortlessly
5. Create alliances
You can also start building a network of partners where they refer your company to their clients all the while you do the same for them. On the same note, you can get referrals and provide your products/services for free to your “allies”, as well.
For example, if you are a web designer, you can arrange to get referrals from your accounting agency since they obviously have connections with companies and freelancers. This way you can cater to their website’s needs for free while generating new business leads.
6. Step your game up
We have been exploring creative ways to generate leads, but perhaps we haven’t talked about the most obvious one: you need to constantly evolve. Besides, referrals are always the result of your customer service. Happy customers always appreciate decent customer service and will most probably refer you to their contacts.
What’s more, your products or services need to reflect your small business’s quality so that buyers will encourage their associates to choose your brand over someone else’s.
7. Indirect referrals
You can create a case studies or testimonials section on your website where you post true customer experiences for your prospect to see. They are both very effective and creative ways to generate leads. Case studies usually take the form of an “interview” and happy customers get to share their (positive) opinion on your products/services via a questionnaire you have them fill in.
On the other hand, testimonials are simple, one-phrase ratings on your small business’s overall performance. Most companies have them interchangeably displayed inside their website’s most visited pages.
8. Post positive feedback on social media
There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in the hard work and dedication you put in your small business. That’s why it’s important to post happy customer stories every now and then on your social media pages. This is another indirect way to gain more referrals without actively asking for a favor.
What’s important to take with you is that referrals can be only as effective as your brand’s quality. Your customer service quality is essential to urge customers into referring your product to a friend or an acquaintance. Therefore, making yourself referable is the cornerstone of gaining more clients and where your primary focus should be. We are confident there are many more creative ways to generate leads for your small business. So if you happen to have one in mind, feel free share it in the comments below!