How to attract referrals

Whatever field your company is in, I think it’s safe to say you are looking to sell your products and/or services to as wide an audience as possible. Although it’s natural to want to concentrate solely on attracting new customers, I believe it’s just as important to focus on attracting referrals from existing customers. Referrals and word of mouth marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available to marketers today.

Regardless of the frequency and/or level of spend from existing customers, you need to be proactive in establishing great relationships with your existing customers that not only ensure they want to continue to buy from you in the future, but are also keen to tell their friends and family members about how great your company is.

So, how do you go about doing this? The first step is making certain your company is one that your target audience are inclined to talk about positively. I know it sounds obvious, but if the goods you provide and the level of customer service you offer are less than perfect, why should you expect people to go out of their way and recommend you to others?

Then examine how you can generate long-lasting relationships with customers so they are encouraged to recommend you to others. Ask yourself some key questions:

• Are there complimentary products that you could offer as part of an aftersales service?
• Could you initiate a retention marketing campaign via email or via post (highlighting special offers, exclusive products or new additions to your range?)
• Could you offer a discount on a repeat purchase or some other form of customer loyalty discount or incentive?

One way to stay in contact with your customers is to send a thank you a few days after the sale. You could do this either by email or post; whatever medium you choose it’s important to personalise your message. Address your email or letter to the individual and tailor the content so that it relates to the customer’s area of interest. That area of interest may be similar products and/or services to the customer’s most recent purchase. Some marketers use “basket analysis” to help them determine what products customers may be interested in buying after their initial purchase.

If you implement a customer retention mail strategy, consider enclosing small promotional gifts with your marketing literature. Whether this is a branded printed mug or a pen, these items can reinforce a positive image of your firm. Research by the British Promotional Merchandise Association shows 56 per cent of people have a more positive opinion of a business after being given a promotional product.

Alternatively, you could run a scheme where customers receive something – perhaps being entered into a competition or getting a discount off their next purchase – for referring you to a friend. In doing so, existing clients will feel they are getting something for relatively little effort, while your business not only reaffirms its relationship with a current customer but also gains a new one!

Are referrals an important source of enquiries for your organisation? What steps is your business taking to attract referrals? Leave a comment and let us know!