Half of all my repeat customers come from referrals! These are the customers who allow me and my husband to work from home full-time. Don’t get me wrong, new customers are important too, but referrals are the lifeblood of almost every business venture.
We all know that people are more likely to tell their friends and family about a bad experience than a good one, so getting referrals means working hard to inspire customers to share their positive experience working with you to people they know.
The question is, are you doing everything you can to leverage the influence of these happy customers to bring you new business? Here are a few strategies that I follow religiously.
1. Keep social media updated daily.
For all the distractions and drama you think they bring, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram offer the opportunity to keep in touch with your customers.
Take the time to send your customer an intake form or survey asking for their social media profiles so you can follow/friend them online. This can be done via your business or personal accounts depending on what type of business you own.
Next, make sure you update your social media daily. If you don’t have the time, set up your daily posts on Monday and schedule them to go out automatically.
How does all this social posting help you? People share valuable content. If you’re providing compelling and useful information – even if it’s just in small doses – your company name stays at the top of your past customers’ minds when someone they know is looking for services or products you offer.
2. Revamp your incentives.
Incentivizing past customers to give you referrals can be an effective marketing tool. Gifts, nice emails, and sentimental nudges can motivate people to give out your name if they are memorable.
The trick is to try something with a different twist. Instead of a happy birthday card, try a couple’s spa day, for example. Your customer isn’t likely to go around chatting about the $50 check they just received in the mail from you as a referral, but you can bet if you receive a free massage, people are going to hear about it, and it’s possible they’ll be hearing your company name right along with it.
3. Don’t neglect offline contact.
While occasional emails should be an integral component of your long-term plan to stay in touch with past customers, offline interactions can also have a significant impact.
Drop your past customers a Christmas card – this reminds them that you exist, and puts your company name out there yet again.
These little touches are what keep your customers from forgetting about you completely, and prompt them to say positive things about you to others.
4. Dare to be different as a home business.
When a company does something unexpected, they become the topic of discussion everywhere. When BarkBox launched in 2011, they quickly became the talk of the town…in fact, lots of towns. A monthly treat subscription – like jelly of the month – but for dogs?? The idea was so convenient that it worked.
The same idea can apply to your business. The idea is to create a signature for yourself, something that sticks in customer’s’ minds and causes them to bring your name up when they hear of a friend or family member who needs your services. Ship a basket of homemade treats with a handwritten card, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just different enough to be memorable.
Why spend so much on past customers?
According to Nielsen:
“84% of people worldwide see word-of-mouth recommendations as the most trustworthy source when choosing a product or service.”
This is significant because when your company name does get mentioned, it means that the person hearing it is likely to take the referrer’s word seriously.
Being ethical, consistent, persistent, and reliable is half the work – as long as you maintain high standards for your business and take customer care seriously, your customers will naturally be satisfied with their business dealings with you.
Adding extra touches like incentives and regular contact will only boost the mutual reward gained by you and your past customers, and keep your name at the forefront of their mind when someone they know needs what you are offering.