That’s right, some business owners have built their entire business using referral strategies. It’s now the foundation and focus of what they do every day in their business development activities. Who wouldn’t like to have an extension of your sales force that doesn’t cost you a dime on the payroll? The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has an Ambassador Committee, a group of dedicated members who commit significant chunks of their time to attending events to lend a hand in fostering connections that build relationships; relationships that in turn build your business. Each of us would kill for the chance to deploy our own ambassador committee into the marketplace, and you can with some careful, thoughtful implementation. It’s back to basics. Basics that work. Start with your existing customer base. Everyone who has walked through your door, who sits in your waiting room, who strolls down the aisles of your shop, they all have the potential to bring you more foot traffic.
Before you can leverage this group in wait, you need to earn the right to ask for referrals. Delivering on your promise of excellent experiences is the foundation of goodwill for referral development. Having the confidence to ask for a referral is a bit of a mindset, you aren’t being intrusive, or presumptuous, or over confident. Target marketing applies to your referral tactics too…be selective in who you approach, identify your champions and share with them where you’re targeting growth. Give them a customer profile, one that supports the business unit or particular service offering that requires a boost.
If you forget everything I’ve just said, etch this next nugget into your mind. Follow-up. On all fronts. If you have a lead that’s been qualified by a referral source, don’t wait until next month to connect with them. Do it now. Don’t overlook your referral source either, connect with them to let them know their help was valued. Send them a thank you card and offer a reward, they deserve it. The referral target can also be enticed with an incentive. Simple ground floor marketing tactics work very well here. Free service periods, discount cards, member rewards, limited time coupons and other call to action methods can be extremely effective.
If you haven’t dedicated at least a few hours each week to generating new business you may be speeding down the M1 towards negative growth. Build a target customer profile today, make referral tactics a priority, implement some easy tools to attract new customers and be consistent; remember your ambassadors are with you today because you’ve always been there for them. That’s why they’re now there for you.