Top business leaders and innovators dish on their secrets for getting great word-of-mouth referrals.
Recently, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) contacted top business leaders and innovators to ask the question, “How do you encourage word-of-mouth referrals?”
Whether you’re a budding startup or a solopreneur looking to increase your leads, you’ll want to note their answers:
Thank You Gifts
“Whether it’s cute tote bags, a mug or cards printed with DIY facial recipes you can make with ingredients found in your kitchen (which is what I do!), give something away. It keeps you top of mind for your contacts, and they will be more likely to keep you in mind and recommend you to others.”
Identify Your Ambassadors
“We capitalize on the fact that our contributing writers are all aspiring journalists who are eager to get the word out about their work on our site. We encourage and equip them to share their work by giving them social media tools and throwing internal contests for sending referral traffic. Identify the individuals with a natural stake in telling others about your business and help them do it!”
Do Awesome Things
“In our proposals, we include a section that sets the right expectations for referrals to start. In this segment, we state that referrals are a clear part of our business model; to keep marketing expenses down and maintain affordable services, we kindly request the client introduce us to two referrals during or after our engagement. Of course, being remarkable at whatever you do is essential, too!”
“Give your customers incentives to refer people to your site. Anytime someone purchases/registers and puts in their name/referral code, give them a reward. People will be more likely to tell their friends about something if they get a reward in return.”
Ask for Them!
“A lot of companies miss out on word-of-mouth referrals because they’re afraid to ask their customers to recommend their services. Don’t be. If you provide an excellent product or service and you have customers who are happy with your work, ask them to refer you on LinkedIn or write a product review on Google+ Local or other customer review sites.”
Build the Trust
“Building long-term relationships is the only way to generate a lasting influx of word-of-mouth referrals. A referral is an endorsement, and the outcome of that endorsement reflects upon the referrer. If your clients and partners don’t trust you, they will never recommend your services. Building trust with partners and clients will do more than any incentive program could ever do.”
Stay in Touch
“Your clients recommend you to their friends when you’re at the top of their mind. If they’ve spoken to you recently or seen something with your name on it, they’re more likely to make the connection. But if they haven’t thought about you in a while, they may not even consider handing your contact information out. You have to stay in touch to avoid that problem.”
Don’t Be Afraid
“When a client has a positive experience with your brand, make sure to ask them to tell their friends and family. It’s as simple as that. Just explain that you’d appreciate them spreading the good word. A happy client will be more than willing to tell people about their experience, especially if they remember that you specifically asked them to do it.”
Let the Work Speak
“Measure customer satisfaction to make sure you are producing fanatic followers who are then more likely to preach your product for you. We use the Net Promoter Score (‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend X to a friend?’) to measure the satisfaction of everyone we support and look to companies like Apple for a benchmark NPS score. Top companies score above 7; match or better that, and referrals will come.”
Feature Your Customers
“We make sure to feature our customers as best we can. After all, they are our life and soul. Since we sell clothing to entrepreneurs, we have our customers send us photos of themselves in their shirts, and then we feature them as ‘model entrepreneurs’ with an interview about their business on our website. It’s a fun and engaging way of promoting our customers and showing off our products. They in turn share the news with their networks. “
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.