Your customers! They are a walking, talking advertisement for your business, assuming they are saying positive things about you of course. Customers that are prepared to speak out to others about your business and its worth, are worth their weight in gold. Whether this be through a conversation or via social networking or at a networking event, maximise on any referral you can get.
So when is the best time to get a referral? The best time is when you are finishing or have just finished providing a service or having sold a product. The customer will be at their most positive at this time.
What should the referral say? The referral could come in the form of a simple quote, like one of mine, “Her work is first class and professionalism faultless.” Or this referral could be incorporated into a case study.
The purpose of a case study (see an example here) is to show potential customers what you did for another customer and how it helped them. The new customer will be able to empathise with this situation and make a connection to their business.
My case studies come in 3 parts – the scenario, the solution and the results. Add the customer’s quote at the end of the case study along with your logo and contact details to make it well branded. It has been said, and I tend to agree, that using referrals can reduce the amount of advertising and cold-calling you need to do.
So who can you ask to refer you? Ask suppliers, current clients, past clients and colleagues/peers. The best way to ask, to me, is to be upfront. Say you would like to build up your profile and reputation, so please could they give you a recommendation. If appropriate, be prepared to return the favour of recommendation.
As for the recommendation, what should this include? In order to use it to attract new customers, it should include why the person chose you, the level of service they received in terms of value and quality and why they would recommend you to others. I can write and say that I am the best at what I do and that I am experienced, but you would be more inclined to believe a non associated and unbias source wouldn’t you?
Here are two quotes from customers, that reflect what I can in terms of marketing other companies and that I feel truly represents me and my business:
“She was quick, efficient and the work she produced was of a high standard and helped me enormously with what I needed. She charged a reasonable rate for the work she did and I felt that I received good value for money.”
“Nicole is a very professional and knowledgeable person who is willing to go out of her way to help grow our business as well as her own. I highly recommend Pinpoint Marketing to anyone who is looking to grow their business.”
If your customer is pressed for time, you could write the quote or case study and simply ask them to amend it or sign it off.
Good luck …