Referral Marketing is the most cost effective form of lead generation out there and probably the most common, and yet very few business owners actually have a formal referral marketing process or system. The more you consider marketing and referral marketing a system, the more successful you’ll be with it.
We already have all kinds of other systems in our business so why not marketing a system too. With a system there are very distinct steps in the process and the more consistent we are at following the process, the more success we will have.
There are four distinct steps in building a referral marketing system for a small business:
1. Make it easy to spot your Ideal Client. Be very specific with your strategic alliances as to who makes an ideal client for you. Give them a list of all the characteristics—and not just the demographics but also the psychographics. Psychographics identify values and behaviors which are just as important in building an ideal client profile. The most specific you are, the better referrals you will get.
2. Provide a list of trigger statements. The best way to describe what you do in your business is to talk about the kinds of problems that you solve. And that’s really useful for your referral partners because it’s easier to listen for the problems or challenges that people are experiencing. For example, if I manufacture widgets, I might express that I’m having a tough time tracking my costs. I don’t say I think I need a new accounting system. Identify a comprehensive list of trigger statements to make it really easy for your referral sources to help you and their network.
3. Teach your referral partners how to present your core message. Your core marketing message is the statement that tells people exactly what you do. It’s most effective when it identifies the exact problem that your product or service addresses. Try to avoid industry jargon because your prospects don’t talk that way and often don’t know or talk using those phrases. Everyday language will help you keep your message simple and repeatable by others. If it’s tongue-twisting, no one will remember it or be able to repeat it to others.
4. Communicate your marketing process to your strategic partners. Tell your referral partners the exact process you will use with their referrals. Take them through the process to ensure that they are comfortable with your process, how you follow-up, the frequency of communication, etc. Your referral partners should be able to communicate this process to their referrals as well so they can set the expectations when they introduce you.
Systemizing your referral marketing process is kind of like teaching your business to market itself. The more thorough you are in building this system, the more successful you will find you referral business.