Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Punching up referrals

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     Every business owner knows the value of referrals. It's word of mouth working for you out in the community.

     Communities can be down the street or on the Internet. Social media can greatly increase the number--and value--of referrals.

     Example: Ana started out as a small baker. But she does not have display cases or a bake shop or even an oven. She began by using the kitchen of a restaurant on days when it was closed. She concentrated on baking brownies and scones which she offered to local companies and organizations for their meetings. This got her business off the ground, but referrals were few. When Ana began posting pictures on social media, her reputation spread. Referrals increased when people saw the mouth watering brownies and scones on Facebook, Instagram, and other sites. Ana now has her own bakery shop with multiple ovens. She ships her brownies and scones all over the country. 

     Example: Bud runs a comics operation. He has a store, but his big presence is on the Internet. Originally, Bud opened his store, carrying current comics directed at adults and kids. The word spread quickly in the community, and this brought referrals to the store. The operation really took off when Bud began posting comics and comic-related items on social media. People placed one-time as well as standing orders which Bud filled using UPS. Once each year, Bud holds a weekend event built around comics and superhero characters. People show up in costume and the happenings draw additional customers to Bud's operation. Referrals have exploded.

     Example: Takisha is a holistic therapist, concentrating on life coaching, nutrition and meditation. Referrals called her, but they were less than she wanted. To punch up the number of referrals, Takisha formed a networking group on MeetUp.com. It was free and it attracted people interested in all sorts of holistic therapies. Many of these people became Takisha's clients. She uses social media to spread the word about the MeetUp site and upcoming monthly meetings. 

     Social media gets the word out about your operation and your activities. Pictures attract attention, get passed around to like-minded people, and bring in new referrals. 

     Getting more referrals should be an on-going part of your business. Referrals represent future possibilities. And business is all about the future. 

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