"When I started to write
, my intent was to document what businesses with lots of referrals do and tell everybody how they're doing it."
Here's the secret to getting more referrals: be referable. Companies who receive a lot of referrals (60-80% of their business) focus on creating a great customer experience first. Then the happy customer becomes their lead generation machine.
Identifying What Makes Your Company Unique
"When is the last time you raved about a perfectly adequate or satisfactory experience? Nobody talks about boring businesses."
Each company needs to highlight what makes them unique. It's not features, benefits, great customer service, or price.
The way to do this is to ask your best customers (not through a survey, but through real interaction) why they hired you, what you do that other companies don't do, and what you could improve upon. You'll start hearing some common themes about what's unique about your company.
Once you have that information, you have to find a way to communicate it simply.
Strategic Partners and Referrals
"Most people think of their own customers when they think of referrals. But probably a greater opportunity is this idea of creating your own strategic team or strategic partners."
A strategic partner is a non-competing business that supplies great products or services to the same market and customers as your business. Create opportunities for co-branding and develop those relationships.
Make sure to follow up with referred leads you receive. Reply with a formal letter, mentioning the person who referred them to your business, and let them know they're going to get special treatment because of their relationship with the referral source.
Also, don't forget to follow-up with the referral source. Thank them, and let them know the outcome of the referred lead.
Educating Referral Sources on Your Ideal Customer
"Doing everything you can to make referring to you easier is certainly part of the system."
Make sure your existing customers know how to spot your ideal customers and how to introduce your business to them. Formalize this on a web page or in a presentation.
You can also turn this idea around and use it to recruit strategic partners by sending them a letter and asking them to teach you the best way to introduce them to your current clients. Ask them for help in spotting their ideal clients.
Regular Leads vs. Referred Leads
"Anytime you have the opportunity to personalize your communication with a lead, the better."
A difference between regular leads and referred leads is that sometimes referred leads are on a different sales/timing cycle. A regular lead may visit your website, then immediately contact you because they've seen that you've identified their exact problem. A referred lead often comes in the shape of someone sharing your business with someone else who may not know they need help yet. These are different education processes.
"For me, it started off just being another kind of, 'Hey, this looks like an interesting way to create and spread content.'
I'd been blogging for probably a year at that point already as well. What I quickly found out was that in circles that were online and were a little tech savvy, it was a great way for me to get an interview with people who -- if I'd sent them an email that said, 'Hey, let's chat sometime' -- would've deleted it."
Also, when it comes to scoring interviews, "come be on my show" has a little bit more weight than "answer these questions" or "let's chat". Podcasting helps to give you access to other people in your industry.
The first 15 guests you have on your show should be your strategic partners. Give them that exposure. Then you'll start to attract bigger names.
John's Final Tips for Marketers
"The definition of marketing is getting someone who you need to know, like, and trust you. Well, what are your know, like, and trust touches? After that, what's your try, buy, repeat, and refer?"
Evaluate your customers' experiences (your processes, products, services, etc.), and fine-tune them. Assess where you can change things so your customers have a positive, fun, and simple marketing experience.