Customer referrals – one of the oldest growth tricks in the book. Every business owner has heard of this growth engine. It’s honest, it’s free, and it’s the most trusted – customers are 4 times more likely to use your service if they are referred by a friend.
However, many professionals don’t know how (or have the time) to juice this growth source as much as they can. The obvious answer is to do great work – but let’s assume you’re already doing great work. So what else can you do to get clients to tell their friends or family about you? How do you stay top of mind? How do you motivate your clients to want to promote you?
Here are my top 4 tips that you can implement in your daily working routine to boost that viral growth. With very little effort, you can leverage your current client base into a larger marketing engine.
1) Ask for reviews
This sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to do this. I don’t mean while you’re walking out of your customer’s home give a “Oh hey, do you mind writing a review for me on Yelp?” Maybe 1 in 20 of these interactions will result in a review. And don’t blame your clients – they’re busy! What you need to do is make it extremely easy on them and also remind them.
Set up a standard email template with a link to one of your business profiles online (e.g., Facebook, Yelp, Google, Thumbtack, etc.) and email your client asking for a single review. The client will tap on the review link, give their rating with brief commentary. Don’t send them 5 different links because that’s asking a lot and some customers might just look at all the review work in front of them and just push it off for another day (which turns into eternity). Just get that one review from each client. If the client doesn’t complete a review, then follow up 1 week later. If nothing then, then send a another review reminder 2 weeks later. One more 3 weeks later. Not every single person will bite, so you need to find the balance of not being spammy yet being top of mind enough for them to give you that review.
Set a simple calendar reminder about asking for reviews, or use an email service like MailChimp to time emails that get sent out asking for reviews. (Note: MailChimp is completely free for up to 2,000 customer emails.) Streamline your review request flow!
2) Remember birthdays and anniversaries
A basic law of human nature is people care about themselves the most. So if you show that you care about them too, then they’ll love that! Sending a text or email or postcard the day of that special date will mean a lot to that client – and not a lot of businesses do this enough.
Collect special dates like birthdays or anniversaries from your clients. You can do this by being honest and straight up asking your client for the date and explain that you send out customer birthday cards (for example). Or if you collect information upfront from your client in a questionnaire or online form upon booking, collect that information from the client.
The beauty of this is that you’re simply doing one extra thing a year for a client, so the investment is minimal. But I’m telling you – you will be 100% top of mind for that client, and the next time one of their friends needs a specific service that fits in your wheelhouse, there is a huge chance you’ll get recommended.
3) Discount for referrals
Sometimes clients need a little nudge over the finish line when it comes to a referral. Discounts can help with that.
In your email signature or on your website, keep a standing % or $ off for referrals. For example – have a perpetual “Refer and get $15 off your next booking” tagline everywhere. Everyone likes a deal, so if a client sees that line, that might actually prompt them to remember that one friend who was asking for service help.
Spending money to get a high quality client is a good investment. And if you’re constantly driving more customer referrals, then adding another client to your list will just help you grow exponentially.
4) Share useful content
As you grow your client list, you’re essentially building your own audience. You can actually take advantage of that in creative ways.
Whether your business is in home services, photography, pet services, beauty, education, therapy, or any other industry – I’m sure you follow a variety of industry news. Topics like DIY (“Do-it-yourself”) or newly (and complementary) tools / technology are typically interesting for clients to read amount.
I know you’re probably very busy, so just once a month (or every other month) share some of that interesting industry news with clients via email. Even if your client doesn’t read the content you send them, I guarantee they will be impressed at the fact that you’re continuously on top of trends, announcements, and industry happenings, that will boost their respect for you. Not to mention, this is also a very easy excuse to keep your brand top of mind with customers, while at the same time giving your client something that’s easily ‘forwardable’ to their friends to recoup that referral J
Good service and the above starting tips will help you leverage your client based and turn them into avid cheerleaders for your business. The truth is 83% of your customers are willing to refer you to friends, but on average only 29% actually do. That means over 50% of your customer base is low hanging fruit for you to take advantage of and grow like crazy.