The Two Key Ingredients of Referral Generation

Earlier this month we talked about why referrals are the best way for most businesses to grow. Today we’ll dive in a little deeper in order to help you generate more referrals for your business.

There are two main ingredients present in every referral – understanding, and awareness.

Understanding. In order to make a referral, the referral source needs to know what you do and who you help. That’s why it’s so important that you can communicate these thoughts effectively. If someone doesn’t understand what you do, or doesn’t know who you can help, there’s no way that they can recognize an opportunity for a referral. Check out this blog entry if you need more help sharpening your message.

Top-of-mind Awareness. Referral opportunities generally have a short window. If the referral doesn’t happen within that window, the potential customer will find somebody else and the opportunity will be lost. So it’s vital that your referral sources recognize the opportunity and connect the dots immediately. That’s why top-of-mind awareness matters. You need to carve out valuable real estate in the minds of your referral network so that they think of you when the opportunity presents itself.

Most business owners think that they’re doing a good job in this area. But that’s because they underestimate just how difficult it is to maintain this awareness. People are incredibly busy. We’re all over-stimulated. Social media, text messaging, breaking news, constant notifications from our smartphones – we’re all busy and distracted, daily. Psychologists estimate that the average human brain processes somewhere between 10,000 – and 50,000 distinct thoughts every single day. So, unfortunately, it’s very easy for potential referral sources to forget that you exist.  

It’s simply not good enough to make a great first impression on somebody. Give them enough time, and I can guarantee that they’re going to forget about you. The good news is that there are strategies and tools that you can use to overcome this challenge.

Educate, Re-Educate, and Remind

In a nutshell, that’s your challenge. That’s how you create reliable, consistent referral sources. Educate, re-educate, and remind.

Educate them. Explain to them what you do, how you make people’s lives better, and who you serve. And you let them know what a good referral opportunity looks like. For example, a good referral for a generic real estate agent is someone who is looking to buy or sell their home. But if you’re building a brand as a high-end agent, or if you focus on a specific part of town, then a good referral is somebody looking to buy or sell a million-dollar home, or a home in that specific neighborhood.

You re-educate them. People are busy. They’re distracted. They’re forgetful. So it’s up to you to proactively continue to explain what you do and who you help. They will forget if you let them!

You remind them. In addition to educating and re-educating, an important part of your referral system is simply reminding your referral network that you exist, that you’re still out there doing great work, and that they should continue to send referrals your way. You can’t depend on people to remember you. You have to continually remind them that you exist.

If this sounds like overkill, consider Coca-Cola. Coke is among the most recognizable brands in the world. In the United States, they have near-perfect market saturation. There are very few adults in the country that haven’t heard of Coca-Cola.

And yet… Coke spends over $500 million per year on advertising in the United States.

Why? Because they understand that maintaining top-of-mind awareness is a constant battle. They’re not introducing consumers to Coke when they advertise – they’re reminding them how much they love it. In hopes that, the next time the consumer visits the grocery store, a little voice in his head will prompt him to visit the soda aisle and grab a 12-pack.

If Coca-Cola, a brand that is literally recognized by 94% of the world’s population, spends billions per year in advertising to maintain top-of-mind awareness… don’t you think there’s a lesson for you and your business?

Now, you don’t have the advertising budget that Coca-Cola has. But you don’t need a huge budget to create awareness and drive referrals. Stay tuned for a handful of practical strategies to make this happen. 

Or, better yet, click here to sign-up for our exclusive Weekly Marketing Hotsheet. It’s packed with tips and ideas to help you generate more referrals and take your marketing to the next level.

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Danny Decker

I work with business owners to create real, practical marketing plans – and create systems to make sure the plan actually gets executed. I’ll help you put a strategy in place to create predictably positive cash-flow, to generate new leads consistently, to create more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing, and much more.

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