Three Tools to Create More Referrals

As discussed in our previous blog entry, in order to create referrals, you have to create top-of-mind awareness with your network.

That’s why even top brands like Coca-Cola spend billions of dollars in advertising for this purpose. Here are three tools you can use to make this happen in your business.

Referral Tool #1 – Your Email Newsletter.

Every business should have an email newsletter sent monthly if not more frequently. This is an easy, effective, and completely scalable way to stay in touch with your entire network – your clients & customers, past customers, referral sources, prospective clients, and more. Think of your e-newsletter as a way to keep people engaged for months or even years after your initial conversations. At Spotlight Branding, we regularly sign up new clients who we originally spoke to years ago. When we ask them how they heard about us, they say something like “I visited your website a few years ago and I’ve been getting your email newsletter ever since. And now I’m ready to work with you.” It happens all the time. I think of our email newsletter as a fishing hook – once someone takes the bait, sooner or later we’re going to reel them in.

But there’s a big caveat. If your email communications are boring or spammy, your recipients are going to unsubscribe or stop paying attention. So the key to an effective email newsletter is to make it interesting enough to your audience that they stay engaged. And the best way to do that is to pack it with valuable and practical information that they can use to improve their lives while at the same time reminding them of what you do and why it’s so important. So, at Spotlight Branding, we fill our weekly newsletter with practical marketing tips and strategies for lawyers. Our goal is to make our newsletter such a helpful resource that lawyers look forward to getting it each week. As long as that’s the case, sooner or later, many of them are going to consider hiring us. Even if they don’t, they may well refer other lawyers to us.

An email newsletter is one of the simplest, easiest, and most cost-effective marketing tools available, and every business should have one.

Referral Tool #2 – Social Media.

Whereas an email newsletter is a more robust type of communication, social media is ideal for creating a higher volume of very brief interactions. These types of interactions are valuable – research shows that it often takes between 5 and 9 engagements with a brand before a consumer will make a purchase. Social media allows you to create those brief engagements very efficiently.

But you can’t be self-promotional if you want to build an engaged following. The key to building an audience is to provide value for your followers – share content that is practical, educational, and engaging. When your social media channels become a source of legitimately helpful information for your target market, you’re going to be successful.

I recommend that every business have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. If you market to professionals, you should have a presence on LinkedIn as well. (But don’t discount Facebook, even if your audience is primarily professionals. They’re active on Facebook as well, and at Spotlight Branding we’ve had more success reaching lawyers on Facebook than on LinkedIn.) Instagram is a great channel as well, but since it’s a visual platform, it requires a bit more creativity. Channels like SnapChat, Pinterest, and others can also be valuable, depending on your market.

The bottom line is that social media is a great tool for creating and maintaining top-of-mind awareness, which leads directly to referrals. Make sure you’re taking full advantage.

Referral Tool #3 – Your Print Newsletter.

A monthly paper newsletter – printed and mailed – is a great tool for top-of-mind awareness. Some people think that, because of the explosion of digital marketing, that there is no longer a place for “old fashioned” mail. This hasn’t been my experience. In fact, as digital marketing has grown, physical mail has worked increasingly well for my business and for many other business owners that I’ve consulted with.

In fact, I think the explosion of digital communications has created a bit of a backlash – many people now crave and enjoy the simple experience of holding a letter or a book in their hand and reading it. I know I do – at my home and at the office, I have stacks of paper newsletters that I enjoy reading and highlighting.

So if you can put together a monthly newsletter that provides value to your audience, it’s a great way to stay in touch. The same concepts that apply to an email newsletter apply here – make the focus of your newsletter providing practical, actionable information that will help your readers improve their lives or their business.

Of course, print mailings have one significant disadvantage as compared to digital marketing – cost. It can be expensive to print and mail thousands of pieces per month! So a few recommendations – first, work with a print shop that you trust.  I suggest going simple and low-cost – you still need to appear professional and stay consistent with your brand, but there’s no reason to go overboard with the design or the printed materials. Second, because a print newsletter campaign can be expensive, it’s important to closely track your results. Use a dedicated tracking phone number on your newsletter, so that you know when you’re getting phone calls as a result of the newsletter.

Want more marketing tipgs? 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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