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by Annette Bau
Small Business Marketing Strategies: Stop Asking for Referrals and Become a Referral Magnet
It appears that everything you find these days about referral marketing for small business owners says that all you have to do is ask for them. If only it were that simple! While asking for referrals can be enough in some specific situations, doing so can also bring you the risk of embarrassing yourself with existing clients and getting referrals to a category of clientele you’d rather not delve into.
Generally, the majority of small businesses are forced to work with anyone they can. It can be frustrating; however, because the people you are working with often have little in common, it is difficult to get qualified referrals from your chosen niche market.
When I began my own personal small business, I knew there had to be a better way to get qualified referrals rather than relying on all my friends and clients. Interestingly, it seemed that the moment I quit asking for referrals and instead spent more of my energies doing research and developing a niche, I was able to build a thriving business with plenty of affluent clients.
If you include these seven small business marketing strategies in your business you too will be able to be a magnet for quality clients and remarkable referrals.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 1. Choose a Niche Market.
You can easily locate the clients you wish to serve once you select your small business niche market — for instance, high-end realtors, small business owners or physicians. When working with a group of people with similar needs, you can improve your focus on this type of client to better determine their unique needs and provide superior services. Clients easily sense this in advisors and begin giving qualified referrals even without you ever having to ask (or even beg) for them.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 2. Don’t Keep Me a Secret
There’s a high probability that you have some friends, acquaintances, and even relatives who don’t know exactly what you do or even the types of clients you work for. Simply explaining your work in casual conversation can go far when working towards generating your business. Perhaps you won’t see the effects immediately, but the more people that clearly understand what you do and with whom, the more likely it is that they’ll refer you to people they know who fit your requirements. Ensure that your plan for small business marketing reveals to your audience a clear picture of your ideal clients and make sure to use positive actions when describing what you do. For instance, “ABC Business provides consulting services to small manufacturing services,” or “I maximize physicians’ assets so they can make money while they’re traveling.”
Small Business Marketing Strategy 3. Use the AskLearnRiches™ Questionnaire.
This small business marketing strategy involves interviewing prospects, existing clients, and centers of influence in your niche market concerning any insights about what you can do to become a better consultant or advisor. For this to work you can’t ask your interviewees for their business. The effectiveness of this technique is evident because you’re much more likely to get names from existing clients and get the opportunity to talk to people when they don’t think you’re trying to sell them something. The people you interview will be so impressed with your tactic that they’ll be the ones calling to you.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 4. Say “Thank You.”
I came upon this strategy unintentionally. My business started sending out a quarterly mailer to our clients that included a note saying, “Thank you for your referrals.” With this small little note something amazing began to occur. We started receiving referrals from clients who had never given us referrals before! This is an easy way to remind those clients of your appreciativeness of any referrals they have to offer.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 5. Let’s Share Referrals.
This small business marketing strategy consists of marketing to other referral partners with which you want to create a reciprocal referral relationship. There is no doubt that this approach has been worth its weight in gold in obtaining referrals from referral partners in the business world. My first referral, using this strategy, came from a CPA who referred me to a family with a net worth of over $100 million.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 6. Create a Relationship Marketing Campaign.
When you’re upfront attitude is friendly, honest, responsive, and sincere, you develop long-lasting, deep relationships with your clients that can lead to the greatest referrals of all. I’m incredibly gratified whenever my clients take it upon themselves to champion my cause and influence their friends and family members to work with me. This small business marketing strategy became a huge success for me once I created a systematic automated stay-in touch approach. The secret is to send frequent heart felt messages that nurtures and develops your relationship with your clients. Two of the best referrals I received using this strategy included a client worth over 10 million dollars and another in excess of 30 million. A real estate professional I interviewed who used “relationship-stay-in-touch marketing strategy” was able to sell $159,000,000 in real estate in only four years, providing real life evidence that this small business marketing strategy can work in almost all small businesses.
Small Business Marketing Strategy 7. Follow up.
An essential step to a successful small business marketing and referral strategy is following-up. When some small businesses do not have a follow-up system securely in place they end up losing millions of dollars. Furthermore, your follow-up must consist of an online and an offline strategy. Whenever you win over a new client, figure out who they have worked with in the past and what made them decide to work with you now. It is interesting that you will often find that the reason they are working with you is because their previous company did not follow-up with them. Not only did that company lose good business but they have also lost the potential for more referrals!
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Annette Bau - CFP(r)