Generating Referral Leads

referralI recently read an article about the value of building a client referral network. The author was so convinced that referrals from clients are the most effective lead source that he recommended marketers allocate 80% of their marketing budget to developing a customer referral program.

While I’m not ready to recommend that 80¢ of every marketing dollar be directed toward “referral marketing”, I definitely believe that most companies could increase their referral marketing effectiveness with just a few tweaks. So, if you’re looking for leads from your network of customers and business partners, here are some steps that should help…

  • Communicate Regularly – Often, companies take the “one and done” approach to communicating with their customers to generate leads, expecting a windfall of response. But just like consistency over time with exercise is the best way to get in shape, consistent regular communication is what will keep customers regularly referring your company.
  • Communicate Relevantly – If Bambi’s Thumper were a marketer, his advice would be: “If you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Remember it’s content that sells, not necessarily the “look and feel”. Keep your communication (content) relevant for your customers, providing them with information that will be beneficial to them.
  • Communicate Completely – A customer may be buying only one product or service from your company. But their network of contacts may need other products and services that you provide. If you fail to educate your customers on the totality of your products and services, then you limit the opportunity for them to refer you beyond what they’re buying.
  • Communicate Reciprocally – When eventually a referral comes in, don’t forget to “thank” your customer or partner appropriately. This may sound logical, but often in the “I’ve got a new lead” euphoria, the source of the lead is forgotten. People like to be appreciated, so whatever your program (rewards, discounts, finders fee, etc.), make sure it’s delivered in a personalized, grateful manner. You may be surprised at the domino effect that’s created.

Jay Hidalgo wrote this article originally to appear on ICS Blog.