How to Market Your Business: Making Word-of-Mouth Work for You

Increase the number of referrals you earn with these proven strategies.

Time It Right: One of the best times to request a referral is after you’ve just orchestrated a successful promotional initiative for a customer. “When that window opens, you have to take advantage,” says Mark Ziskind, COO of Caliendo Savio Enterprises (asi/155807).

Ask Tactfully: When you ask for a referral, avoid sounding stiff and grasping. “Saying ‘Who are five people you know I can call on?’ or something similar just turns people off,” says Ziskind. Instead, at the appropriate time, ask the person in a conversational way if they know anyone else within their organization or outside of it you might be able to assist.

Give Referrals: When you refer customers to your clients, they’ll be more inclined to return the favor.

Leverage LinkedIn: Analyze the connections of people you’re networked with on this social platform. Are there people in their web of professional relationships with whom you’d like to do business? If so, reach out to your connection and see if they can give you an introduction or suggest a viable means of warming up what would otherwise be a cold call. 

Offer Rewards and Show Thanks: Offer clients who give you referrals a discount on their next order or another reward, such as a branded gift. Relatedly, send handwritten thank-you cards just after getting a referral. Then, if you engineer a deal with the prospect to whom you’ve been referred, let the referrer know and again express thanks. Doing this shows referrers you truly value them, which will help encourage them to give you more referrals. Plus, saying thanks gives you a chance to have a meaningful touchpoint with the referrer, which keeps you top-of-mind and could lead to more business with them.

Participate In Networking Groups: Even if you do not do business directly with a fellow group member, it’s likely more than a few will be able to refer you to prospects you can turn into customers.

Volunteer: When you volunteer for community events and organizations, you can build relationships with people who can either become clients or refer you to others who could benefit from your consultative solutions.

Create Quality Online Content: For instance, have a blog where you deliver insights on maximizing the promotional power of ad specialties. Share this through your social channels and encourage others to do the same. Do this consistently, and you can stoke interest from prospects and get others to refer people looking for your services. 

More Quick Tips For Referrals

--Ask friends and family members for leads
--Send clients useful self-promotional items (drinkware, pens, calendars). If someone the client knows is looking for ad specialties, having your branded items around increases the chances they’ll recommend you.

Win Referrals With Great Performance

Scooter O’Cain recently had lunch with a client. At the end of the promotional brainstorming session, the woman wrote down the name and phone number of her friend – the newly appointed marketing director at a major organization in South Carolina – and gave it to O’Cain. “She told me to give her a call -- that there was an opportunity,” he says.

Referrals like this are part of the lifeblood of O’Cain’s business. Through such leads, the owner of Geiger O’Cain Advertising has steadily increased his client roster to where he now generates upwards of $2 million in sales annually. What prompted his business lunch client – and many others – to present O’Cain with a hot prospect? His consistent performance that exceeds expectations. From delivering just the right products and advising on branding, to expertly communicating and ensuring that the order is produced on time accurately, O’Cain has won the loyalty of countless customers. As a result, many have become his advocates, offering him quality leads. “It’s all about building relationships,” says O’Cain.