22/09/2011

“Baby, now that I’ve found you,…”

By James Butler, Your Business Your Future tutor and coach

How would it be if customers walked into your business and burst into that great Foundations number from the Sixties — “Baby, now that I’ve found you I can’t let you go, I need you so...”. Maybe it already happens to you all the time!

Let's assume, for the purposes of this article, that we want our customers to have that sentiment - if not to express it in song!

What I want for your business (and mine!) is for you to regularly have customers turning up who are overjoyed at having found you. And that's most likely to happen when they've been referred. The foundations (pardon the pun) of a good referral strategy can be built on these Top Tips — all beginning with T:

Thinking — make sure that your own thought processes are supporting your efforts to get more referrals — be sure you view the whole process of generating referrals positively, healthily and openly (many don’t);

Target — have a specific number of referrals that you intend to attract — so that you can be conscious of what you are trying to achieve, what you need to do to get there and whether you have made it or not.

Timeline — have a point by which you want to have achieved your target. “Generate 10 new customers by referral” is less compelling than “Generate 10 new customers by referral in 10 weeks”. (Adjust the number and timeframe to have a stretching but achievable goal for you)

Tenacity — too often I hear business owners say they “tried something once and it didn’t work”. Most marketing activity requires applied, consistent effort over a period of time — be determined and be patient. And keep pushing your contacts for the referrals — don’t let go.

Top Ten — not all referrals are good ones, so consider your Top Ten clients now (by challenge of work, by ease of relationship, by turnover, by profit, whatever you want more of) and focus on those people as referral sources — chances are they know more people like themselves.

Type of Customer — be as focussed and descriptive of who would make your ideal customer as you can be — this will make it far easier for someone to recognise an opportunity to refer to you. Don’t settle for imperfect — be sure to describe who would make your perfect customer.

Thanks —genuine gratitude, however expressed, usually rewards the referrer by making them feel helpful, useful and appreciated. Whether a gift, a discount or a word of thanks with no monetary value (and often greater emotional impact), saying thanks at the right time is a great way to reinforce the behaviour you want in referring customers.

Take Action Today — there is no time like the present to get started — what things can you do to start attracting those referrals today? What are your next steps?
Hopefully you will be humming The Foundations all day now — perhaps it will be an ongoing reminder of the opportunity you have to generate more referrals for your business.

Perhaps it will also remind you that we too are looking for referrals! So, if you know any business owners who want to create a different and better future for their business and for themselves please send them in our direction!