Most consumers trust their friends, family, influencers and experts to make recommendations about products and services to them. In addition, there are many ways to make recommendations – from online testimonials, to affiliate links, to direct mentions from the customer. They all work to some degree.
To encourage your customers to provide referrals, you can take some steps in advance that set everything up to turn your best customers into your biggest assets.
1. Be Excellent – The better you do your job, the more pride with which your customers can recommend you to others. If you provide excellent products and services, your customers will be happy to provide referrals when asked to do so.
2. Ask Customers to Refer You – Just ask your customers to please offer referrals to their friends and family who need your products or services. Give them some literature and information about your offerings so that they can easily share.
3. Create an Active Online Community – Using either a message board, forum, or private Facebook group, creating an online community can help spread the word of your good services and products fast to those who have need of them.
4. Build a Long-Term Relationship – Focus on relationship building over the long term and you will create true raving fans that are eager to recommend your business. When you have a real relationship with someone, they’re that much more likely to tell others about you.
5. Create a Formal Referral Program – Offer discounts to friends and family recommended by customers, along with a coupon to the one who gave the referral. With a formal referral program you should let every customer know about it as soon as they become full customers.
6. Use Social Media Strategically – Offer a coupon code for consumers “liking” or “following” your brand on social media, and encourage them to share. Offering sign-up incentives for newsletters and more always helps get the word out about your services.
7. Market Your Testimonials – When someone gives you a raving testimonial, turn it into a meme, ask for a recording, put it into many formats and then publish it and market it across all channels. Market your testimonials as you could other types of content.
8. Follow Up – Always follow up with customers who have provided referrals to you by offering them a discount, a thank you note, and acknowledgement. The more you follow up after a positive referral, the more likely they will to continue doing it.
Word-of-mouth referrals are over 50 percent more effective than other forms of marketing. If you want to develop a long-term business, the best way to ensure that it really is a long-term business is to encourage word-of-mouth marketing in every way that you can.
Many business owners find after years of being in business that most of their customers come from word-of-mouth, which lessens the need to expend more time, money and effort on other forms of marketing.