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Referrals are important to the health of your business. Customers and clients talking about the products/services you provide is better than free advertising.
Increasing the number of referrals should be one of your major concerns. And there are some simple things you can do to get more referrals.
Example: Tom runs a small print shop. The technology of printing continues to advance, and this squeezes Tom's operation. He realized some time ago that he must target certain types of printing jobs--quick turnaround, small and medium color runs. To find new customers, Tom started attending more networking events. In addition, he began aggressive followups with present customers--calling them and asking for referrals. He got some appointments and visited them. Not all resulted in new jobs. Enough turned out well, however, convincing Tom that he was on the right track. Over time, Tom increased his customer base.
Getting more referrals should be part of your selling strategies and promotional initiatives.
Example: Danielle owns a hair salon. To increase referrals she hands out gift certificates to current customers. She writes "From (and the customer's name)" on each gift certificate. It is to be passed on to some friend or acquaintance. For their trouble, she gives the customer a discount on their next appointment. This has had the effect of bringing new customers to Danielle's salon.
Example: Tina runs an upscale gift shop. Almost everything in her shop is handmade by artists and artisans--jewelry, women's accessories, pottery and ceramics, wood, leather and iron ware, etc. Instead of business cards, Tina hands out postcards, including them with every purchase. The post cards have a color picture on one side. The other side shows the shop's address and contact information along with a discount coupon against future purchases. She hands these out freely, frequently giving shoppers and browsers several at once, and asking them to pass out among their friends. The color picture is the key here--people can throw away a business card, but an attractive color picture is kept and passed to others.
These examples are simple and inexpensive ways to get your present customers to refer others to you. Whether you use postcards or Facebook, the end result can increase the chatter about you out there where it counts.
Referrals take place naturally. They are part of human interaction--whether it's over a cup of coffee or on Facebook. But you can do some things to speed up the process.