Small Business Marketing Strategy: The 7 Steps to More Referrals
Most small business owners can readily agree that they would love to attain more Qualified referrals. The key to this is straightforward — both you and your small business have to become more referable! In over two decades of my working with many prosperous business owners, I’ve come upon “The Seven Small Business Marketing Strategies” that can virtually guarantee your small business will soon be overwhelmed with a steady stream of qualified referrals.
Becoming referable doesn’t usually happen overnight, but you can make it happen if you create a process in your small business marketing plan. Start with two of the small business marketing strategies listed below and scrutinize the results. Take to heart the strategies that work best for you and prolong adding strategies up to the point where you are able to gain more referrals than you ever thought feasible!
Small Business Marketing Strategy 1: What can I do for you?
When focused on providing for others and doing everything in your power for your business marketing strategy, you’ll be incredulous at the number of referrals you will soon receive in response. This strategy has you view all your relationships with perspective; ask yourself, “What can I do for you?”
Small Business Marketing Strategy 2: Show you care
The cornerstone of an effective small business marketing and referral-building strategy is comprised of the motto, “clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. When clients grasp that you sincerely care about them, they feel duty-bound to spread the word about you and your business; everything is about building those tight bonds. Take the time to make that one extra phone call, set up a lunch or coffee date, or even send a birthday card; by going the extra mile and perceiving what your clients are passionate about you will have an army of referral sources. Maybe one of your affluent clients loves golf; take this person to the annual tournament that comes to town. If another loves roses, you could take this client to the annual rose exhibit. Clients and prospects suffer from a starvation for affection and consideration, and to achieve actual results on the number of referrals you receive, even a few diminutive gestures can have an impressive effect.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 3: Ask for referrals upfront
Beforean affirmation from a colleague of mine to his clients, he asks them if they’ll be open to referring others to him if after working with him for a year he’s done well. He ends up making a deal with them on the spot. He then has the motivation to take the time to learn exactly what his clients want and need in order to ensure he’s meeting their expectations to the highest degree. At the close of the year, when his small business consulting clients convene for their yearly appraisal and state that he has done a high-quality job, he reminds them of their concurrence from a year earlier; now guess what has happened for him and his business? His referrals have been quadrupled!
Small Business Marketing Strategy 4: Get your clients and prospects into the “referability zone”
A portion of any small business marketing plan should be inclusive of a plan that encourages referrals. Anyone who has ever been a serious athlete can empathize on what it feels like to be focused and “in the zone.” Analogous to these athletes, you have got to get your clients and colleagues into a “referability zone”. You’ll know this strategy is working when a client calls and tells you something like, “You need to call Jerry because he needs help marketing his business.” With the intention of achievement, you need to make sure your clients immediately link you with the key words of your message. For example, if your small business provides marketing and consulting to entrepreneurs you will want people to think of you — and refer you — every time they take notice of someone using the words “small business marketing,” “business opportunity,” “small business marketing consulting” or any other word or phrase that portrays a small business or entrepreneur who can use your services. You need to send memorable messages — with both pictures and words — to your clients, prospects and colleagues on a regular basis if you truly want to make this happen.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 5: Be predictable
I have two stories to share where the moral comes out to be to always do the right thing, even when you don’t suppose anyone is watching… Because chances are, they really are looking and they will be telling others.
One affluent woman I am acquainted with once shared with me a time where she was listed to meet with a designer whom she was eager to meet with to such a great extent that she had already referred her to some friends before actually meeting with her. She had previously seen the work of this designer before and thus didn’t even wait to spread the word concerning her. However, after being stood up a second time, she immediately fired the designer. I’m sure that the overall amount of potential referrals and income lost to the designer was devastating to some degree, not to mention the effect this event had to have had on the designer’s small business repute.
There was another instance concerning an associate of mine who serves on the board of a homeowners’ association, who I had thought to be a very knowledgeable service provider and the proprietor of a small business. I had brought up his name one day to a friend, and another of our friends unexpectedly declared that she “would never use him.” She then advanced in telling us of how unprincipled, discourteous and outright uncouth he had been to others in his subdivision. My friend peered at me then and stated that she wanted someone who was more conventional. In less than five minutes, this small business owner lost an approximate $10,000 worth of potential business because he hadn’t been acting professional.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 6: Create reciprocal referral relationships
In my experiences, this has been my most advantageous small business marketing and referral strategy. Simply identify five to ten other small businesses that target the same clientele, but do not compete ideally. First off, you should choose between five and ten other small businesses because some will be better reciprocal partners than others. You will want to find the one or two who are as committed to creating a small business marketing strategy that has a consistent flow of qualified referrals as you are. Ask these chosen small business owners if they would like to set up a reciprocally favorable partnership by agreeing to cross refer clients.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 7: Under-promise then over-deliver
Your small business marketing strategy must focus on exceeding expectations and doing whatever it can to guarantee that it does not under-deliver. A very well-connected associate of mine recently shared with me that he had began to use some new software that I had mentioned I was interested in. When I asked him some questions about it, he told me that he felt they had oversold him on the front end and were not delivering enough on the back end. It’s frightening to envision how many referrals this software company has lost because of their flip-flopped strategy of tooting their own horn and bragging about what they don’t actually have.
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