28 February 2010

If you want referrals you need to let people know EXACTLY what you do and what you WANT.

A while back I moved out of an office where I had run my marketing business for a few years. The day we were physically putting the boxes into the back of the truck, the lady who ran the business in the office next door came over to say goodbye. I saw her every day and we had one of those nice kind of “how are you going?” relationships. She asked me a question as we were saying goodbye – she asked what it was we actually do?

Now this question almost floored me, especially as we were neighbours for so long, but it made me realise that just because I knew what my business does it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone else knows. And after all, it is our job to let them know, it’s not their job to find out.

This concept under pins the entire word of mouth referral process. How can people possibly refer us if they don’t really know what we do? We need to be proactive in telling people (and by people I mean all people including our family, our friends, our suppliers, our neighbours, our existing customers and anyone else who will listen) exactly what it is that our business does. Assuming that the name says it all is really a little risky.

Further to this most businesses change and evolve over time. They develop new products and services, they expand their area of operation, they stop offering certain things – in other words they change. We all need to make sure we keep this information flowing. The more informed, up to date and aware all of the people are who are in our sphere of influence, the more word of mouth referrals we can and will get.

Most importantly of all, we need to spell out what kind of customers we really want. Define the “PERFECT” customer and let our network know that these are the kind of people we are looking for and we would really appreciate their help in referring these specific kinds of people our business.

Being too vague makes it really hard for friends and fans to recommend your business because they don’t really know what you do or what you want.

The secret weapon in the world of business success is communication. We have so many ways to communicate that it can be a little daunting, but if you want to grow your business through word of mouth referrals, you have to become exceptional at communicating and disseminating information to everyone in your ever expanding network.

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