The secret to getting business referral

Business referral
  • General Business Strategy
  • February 12, 2023

The secret to getting business referral is to build a remarkable business – here’s how!

We have lost count how many times we have heard from a business owner that their growth has come mainly from referral. 

But what strikes every time we hear this is that none of them really know why they were referred or when the next referral will come. They are just thankful that referrals come. 

This poses the questions, why would someone want to talk about your business, what’s in it for them and what could you do in your business to make discussions about your product or service valuable for the people you hope to help? 

Marketing writer Seth Godin, called this effect the Purple Cow and positioned it to transform your business by being remarkable. 

For something to be remarkable it needs to be worth talking about and paying attention to. 

Thinking about a product or service you recently purchased and talked to a friend about, what made it worth talking about? Was it the great customer service, was it how they onboarded you, the creative way they presented their product or the impact the solution had on your life? 

Generally, people are selfish, all of us, and we talk about things that sustain us, inspire us, reward us, give us status. Knowing these parameters, how can your business leverage one of these levers to create remarkability?  

Remarkable things get remarked on

When a service is provided and meets our expectation, we aren’t likely to be inspired enough to talk about it. But what would happen if the experience challenged us or made us stop to and think that was different. Would this counterpoint to what we expected make you tell one other person? If it would, what could you do in your business to create this tension? 

Then think about it, if you could create such a remarkable experience that 1 in 4 clients told one more person who then became your customer, what would this do to your business? Would you achieve your goals? 

When thinking about the remarkability of your business you need to consider the narrative and status of your customers. What are the stories that they tell themselves that your product can connect with that will inspire them to talk about your service? Remember, people do want exciting things to talk about, our job as marketers is to create something that they are excited to talk about. 

Take a fresh look at everything you do

A practical place to start is take a look at your business from a new client’s perspective. Consider every touchpoint, every interaction, and ask if you can make it amazing.  

Here’s a tip: if you come up with something that sounds a little bit crazy, then you might just be onto something.  

For example, if everyone in your industry is offering a 30-day money back guarantee, what would happen if you offered a 300-day guarantee, or even 3,000 days. 30,000 days?  Could you offer in home installation or an onboarding call for every client. 

Sounds ridiculous? Maybe that’s the point. Would you lose money? Well, model it and find out. If not, then why not?! It’s certainly something people would remember and maybe remark on, don’t you think?  

An easy way to be remarkable is simply to show gratitude. I used a pest control service a couple of weeks ago, and the next day they sent me a potted plant to say thanks. Won’t have cost them much but it was a lovely thought, and I’m more likely to refer them in the future and I’ll certainly use them again myself, should the need arise, no matter which pest control company sits on top of the google search rankings.  

Reduce the scope of your target market

Another way to build a remarkable business, is to forget about most of your customers!  

Examine your database, determine where the majority of your margin is coming from (it’s usually 80% of profit from 20% of customers), and then focus tightly on that smaller target market.  

Maybe your database shows 500 customers in the period of a year, but only 50 are coming back continuously, and when you focus in closer, they actually deliver 80% of your income. Great. Now, how can you better serve those customers to the point where they become evangelical about your brand?   

By locking onto a smaller group, maybe you can afford to develop a remarkable new service or product specifically for them.   

Then, once you’ve nailed it, expand your search for more people just like that. Even ask them if they know of anyone… But don’t throw the net too wide, keep that 20% firmly in focus. 

So, what could you do to create something in your business that people want to talk about?

One thing that never changes is that ideas that spread are ideas that win. They don’t need to be the best idea, they just need to have remarkability built into them.  

As always, we’re happy to talk through any of this further. Sometimes it’s hard to see your own business objectively, and an outsider’s perspective is just what you need. So let’s talk! 

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