For service-based businesses, word-of-mouth referrals are perhaps the most important aspect of marketing. But how does a business go about acquiring more word-of-mouth referrals? After reading The Referral Engine by John Jantsch, I have a better understanding of why we refer. The book also offers numerous strategies and tactics for making a business more referral driven, and I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in marketing, especially marketing for small or medium sized businesses.
For me personally, two main concepts of the book stand out in my mind. The first is the idea that we all as human beings have a natural need to refer friends and family to businesses we like. Therefore, gaining more referrals is more about making yourself more likable and less about gimmicks and “traditional” marketing tactics.
On the flip side of that argument, monetizing referrals can actually do more harm than good, as it takes that natural desire to refer and attempts to turn it in to something people do only to get money or something additional. Businesses that provide unexpected thanks after a referral has been made will likely be more successful because that model follows more closely with human nature.
The second biggest takeaway I got from the book was the idea of just asking for a referral as well as the best time to ask. If someone tells you they are extremely satisfied with the service they just received, why not take that as an opportunity to ask them to tell their friends? Rather than hoping they think of someone later on, have cards available where clients can write someone’s name down then and there, before the chaos of life gets in the way.
The book offers numerous ideas like these that can be applied to many industries. I would again highly suggest anyone who performs marketing duties for a small or medium business to check it out. In addition, the author has a wonderful accompanying website at referralenginebook.com.
If you’ve read the book, what did you think? What ideas have you put in place to help your marketing efforts?