Even if your business is going well, you know things could be going better. It’s the dream of nearly every business owner to see their business grow. In fact, they say if you’re not growing, you’re dying. But where do you start when it comes to managing for growth? What can you do to move toward expansion? One of the easiest and most effective ways to grow a business is through referral marketing. It costs almost nothing—only the time it takes to ask a happy customer for a referral—but it has some of the most consistent returns of any marketing method.
Referral or word-of-mouth promotion is valuable because the referral comes from the mouth of someone your potential client already knows and trusts and whose judgement they value. Not only are leads easier to get from people you’ve cultivated a relationship with, but your partners begin with a high opinion of you, so there’s less need to persuade new prospects of your value.
Swapping leads with a referral partner
A referral partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement where you and another company help spread the word about each other to potential clients who have a need for your services. If you work together with a referral partner and you both believe in each other’s skills, you can help many more people find and use your services.
A good referral partner is someone who works with the same kinds of clients you do but who won’t be directly competing with you. Some great examples of excellent referral partners are:
- Bank Executives (particularly at small, business focused banks)
- Existing customers
- Highly networked entrepreneurs
- EOS implementers (or similar professions)
- Vistage/TAB chairpersons
- Niche-marketing/creative-service providers
- Association leaders (industry, chamber, other small business groups)
A good rule of thumb to follow when choosing a referral partner is to choose a person who likely would be able to get you about 10 strong leads. The exponential rewards of building a referral network are obvious—10 referral partners bringing 10 leads each means you get introductions to 100 potential clients.
How to find good referral marketing partners
Your next question may involve how to find good partners for referral marketing. Based on our many years of marketing by referral, we believe the three most important methods are these:
- Do good work. The simplest and most effective way to grow your referral network is to make sure the work you do is exceptional. The more excited your partners are about the products and services you’ve provided for them, the more they’ll naturally want to tell others about it. And the more work you’ve done that you can be proud of, the more solid your portfolio will be when the time comes to make pitches to new customers.
- Join networking groups. This can do a lot to get your business name out to the world, but it’s important to actively participate. Not only will other members be grateful for your contributions, but they’re much more likely to remember your name if you’ve been active.
- Participate on LinkedIn. Actively engaging with peers and colleagues on LinkedIn is a great way to keep your product or service top-of-mind, as well as help establish you as a thought leader and subject-matter expert in your field.
It’s not unusual to freeze up when you try to figure out the correct way to approach contacts to set up a referral marketing partnership, but it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Simply take action of any kind and reach out. Remember your referral partners have something to gain, too. Both you and your contacts will generate leads in a referral network. With a little conscious effort on behalf of one another, you’ll both grow.
About the Author:
Brandie Allen-Rezac has over 25 years’ experience in corporate marketing working at both Fortune 500 and small businesses. Throughout her career, she has helped B2B organizations with all aspects of marketing, including branding, digital and traditional marketing strategy, web and SEO, content marketing, digital and social media, and event marketing.
She knows how to leverage dynamic talents across all marketing disciplines to conceptualize, develop, and execute marketing and advertising strategies to achieve corporate goals. She is a creative problem solver, with the ability to identify process gaps and implement proven marketing solutions in order to drive revenue growth.