Friday, May 15, 2015

Getting more referrals

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     to help you better manage your small business. 

     New customers and clients show up at your place all the time. Many come from referrals. John refers Mary who visits your website. Joan refers Ted who walks into your shop.

     Referrals result from the natural interactions between people. When you are impressed with the work your plumber did, you want others to know about it. When someone admires the coat you're wearing, you tell them about the wonderful little shop where you found it.

     You can do some things to speed up the number of referrals coming your way. This means you are growing your business.

     Example: Pam is a massage therapist. She posts pictures on her Facebook page showing her hands hard at work on necks, legs, shoulders and more. The pictures get "liked" on Facebook and passed around. This has the effect of referring others to Pam. It has worked so well, Pam decided to post pictures on other social media. Today, Pam's appointment bookings extend far into the future and she's added another massage therapist to her staff.

     Pictures are powerful communicators. Many of today's social media offer opportunities--mostly free--to get the word out there and passed around. 

     Social media, extensive as they've become, represent only one method to get more referrals. There are other ways to keep the word zIpping around the community. 

     Example: Jill is an attorney concentrating on elder care and the problems seniors have. She regularly puts on informational sessions at senior centers, organizational meetings, and other gatherings. She talks about living wills, social security, elder care and more. She answers questions from the audience and helps people understand the implications of their problems. These sessions have the effect of spreading Jill's reputation and calls come in for appointments. Attendees also refer others to Jill--not only other seniors, but grandchildren as well who have legal problems. 

     Getting the word out to the community can take many forms. Some businesses sponsor sports teams. Others hold classes to teach pottery making or baking fancy breads. Still others hold events. 

     Example: Lisa runs a health foods store. Once each month, she schedules an event at the store designed to increase awareness of healthy living. One month a nutritionist will talk about eating habits and foods. Another month an organic farmer will answer questions about the problems of raising vegetables organically. A chef has offered cooking lessons and a Reiki expert has demonstrated Reiki to the group. Lisa's reputation is spreading. 

     Getting more referrals can be an inexpensive way to grow your business. The way you go about it is up to you. Just keep in mind that many methods are available. And with today's social media, getting more referrals is easier than it has ever been.

     Getting more referrals means putting your customers and clients to work for you. They will be doing it anyway, so what you want to do is to speed up the process. Keep it positive. 


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