Referrals are a great source of new business and prove that you are doing something right to influence your current clients and referral partners to make those referrals happen.

However, these days many businesses still rely on referrals and word of mouth alone for lead generation. But what happens when things dry up and your referrals either slow down or stop coming in all together? You become desperate to secure the cash flow to keep the business ticking along. What do you do when the referrals actually DO keep coming in but are far from your ideal customer? You spend countless hours talking yourself out of sales.

Today, you need an alternative strategy to fuel referrals. A strategy that enables you to attract prospects who are your ‘ideal’ clients and allows you to control your lead flow. Stimulating activity through ongoing marketing efforts will bolster those alliances you have in place with your referral network and customer base and demonstrate a level of expertise, trust, and influence in the eyes of your network.

These are 3 ways to stimulate more referrals to your business:

don’t forget about your best marketing resources

Many small businesses spend time and money focussing on marketing activity that fuels the top of the marketing funnel with cold leads using paid media channels, like Facebook Ads, Googles Ads and so on. They tend to sometimes forget about the people who are paying them money for a service or product right now.

Your customers are your best-untapped marketing resource and will be your most influential brand ambassador. Focusing efforts on adding remarkable value to your current customer base will be your best chance at stimulating referrals. Whilst 80% of businesses believe they already deliver a super customer experience, only 8% of customers actually agree.

85% of people trust recommendations from others they know, so if you create an enjoyable and valuable ongoing experience for your current customers, they are going to be the ones singing your praises to their friends, family, and colleagues.

Don’t leave your customers waiting for a callback or for that email they were promised weeks ago. Concentrate more of your time on creating an exceptional customer experience and keep adding value to the customer relationship.

constant communication

No one will make a referral if they don’t know about you. Ensuring your email marketing list contains referral partners will give you the ability to continually add value to the relationship by sending them high-quality educational content [emphasis on “high quality”] that solves a problem or triggers a thought. Consistently sending them content will not only prove your expertise, but it will also keep you front of mind when that referral is ready to happen.

And when that referral does happen, much of the hard work is already done. The referrer will have already established a level of trust and credibility in your prospective customer, so you spend less time convincing for a conversion.

guest article contributions

Referrals don’t always come in the form of an introduction by another person. Often, customers can be referred by a third-party website or industry publication. Usually, this type of referral is an action triggered by someone consuming [and liking] content that the business owner has provided as a “guest contributor”. Providing articles that are published on another website or printed media with the objective to drive traffic back to your website is a great source of high-value inbound links and also contributes significantly to your SEO.

Referrers also need to have confidence that you have the expertise to deliver great outcomes for customers. Being at the forefront of industry trends and sharing your insights in industry publications will increase your reach, boost your credibility and stimulate more referrals.

Sitting back and just waiting for a referral to happen is risky business. This is not a sustainable approach to lead generation. You’re simply a passive on-looker without a strategy. Start stimulating more referrals to your business by creating exceptional experiences through marketing and customer service.


Originally authored by Tyson Cobb.