The power of B to B referral marketing, and how to harness it for your business.

  • Better Marketing
  • March 14, 2023

Someone asks if you know a good plumber. Just so happens that you had a drain successfully unblocked recently so you happily to pass their details along before basking in the glory of a toilet fixed on time, for a reasonable price!

It’s actually human nature to want to help people. Not only because it benefits them, because it makes you feel good too.

So you already know referrals are powerful, because you’ve given, and received them yourself. And given you’re in business, you would know that they’re the BEST leads you ever get.

This article looks at what’s really going on here, and ways we can make the most of it …

Numbers don’t lie: Referrals are great for business

Here’s why we said referral are “the best leads”:

  • 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know    Nielsen
  • People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend    Nielsen
  • The lifetime value of a referred customer is 25% higher than that of other customers    Wharton School of Business
  • Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher customer retention rate    Invescpro

To put it in a nutshell:

…people trust referrals, they’re more likely to buy when referred, they’ll spend more money with you, and they’ll stay as a customer longer.

Now, given all of that, is this the kind of thing best left to chance? Or do you think, perhaps, it might be worth trying to encourage it with some kind of systematised referral marketing strategy?

I think I know how you answered that one! So here are a few ideas.

Referral marketing strategies and techniques 

 Not everything is going to be a good fit for your business, but if you can pick up a few ideas from the referral sales and marketing strategies below, then great – we’re always happy to help others to succeed. 

  1. Build remarkability into your business

A referral is literally somebody remarking on your business to somebody else. 

To state the obvious, nobody is going to refer you unless you’re bloody good at what you do and you got a result for them. Realistically, this is your ticket to the game.  

However, if we’re being honest with ourselves, there’s always a competitor nipping at your heels who’s probably about as good as you are. 

So what the secret sauce that creates remarkability? It’s that little bit extra that people don’t expect and they absolutely love; if you delight your customer, they want to remark to others about the impact you have had on them.   

Of course, if you and your team went above and beyond, and the result absolutely blew the lights out, that’ll do it. But it can be much easier to achieve than that. Perhaps it’s simply an unexpected little gift to say thanks for the business. A free upgrade on their service for a month. Might be the way your product is packaged (have you seen ‘unboxing’ videos?). Even the message on your answering machine can delight and make people remark if it’s chosen carefully enough. 

A recent example happened when I booked a rustic cabin for a few nights’ winter break. The owners asked what time we were going to arrive – 6pm that evening – and when we walked in the fire was already roaring. All they had to do was nip in 30 minutes before, light the fire and the job was done, but my goodness what an impression it made – and it cost them nothing but a little time! 

So, if there’s a way of adding that little bit of fire to your service or product, then go ahead, and build remarkability into your business. 

  1.  Ask and ye shall receive! (… a referral)

I know, it’s obvious, however when’s that last time you actually did it?  

“83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience — yet only 29% actually do.”

        Texas Tech University Study

Many people feel a bit funny about just blatantly asking to be referred so put a bit of thought into it up-front, and figure out an approach that removes the discomfort and delivers a steady stream of referrals. A few things to consider here: 

Timing is all important 

Strike while the iron is hot, as they say – ask when your customers are happiest with your service or product, and you’ll have the best chance of securing a result. This could be right after signing the deal or delivering your first piece of work. Depends on your business of course, but you know when that moment is for your clients. 

Quantify the value you brought them 

If your service has just saved them a huge amount of time, or a serious amount of money or generated a great return, then quantify it – tell them, and ask for the referral in the same breath! You’ll find it comes an awful lot easier on that back of that kind of information. 

Follow up on a review 

If a customer tells you they’re happy with your service, whether it’s in person or on social media, that’s an opportunity not to be missed – get in there and ask for a referral! Also, if you’re in the habit of asking for reviews or testimonials, then tag on the request for referral at the same time – you’ll be surprised at the results you can get once this is embedded into your routine. 

Who are the best customers to ask? 

Again, seems pretty obvious but dig out your customer database and select the customers that tick all these boxes, or at least a couple of them. 

      • They love what you do
      • They’re a profitable client
      • They’ve worked in the industry for a long time
      • They probably know some people in your target market

Then, plan a short spiel and just give them a call and ask! 

  1. Make referring you a breeze

There’s a couple of ways to do this.  

First of all, make the actual process of referring people to you easy. Don’t have lots avoid forms or questionnaires to be completed. Ask for a name, email or phone number, and that’s it. Maybe put a link on the bottom of your email signature that goes directly to a referral contact form on your website – done. 

The other way to make it easy is to provide lots of information on your website, like case studies for example, that your clients can share with others by simply clicking the social ‘Share’ icons you should add there. Effortless! 

  1. Be personally thoughtful

People like to refer people they like and trust! 

In the B2B space, where the majority of our clients come from, chances are you’re not dealing with an overwhelming number of people. So as simple as it may seem, stay in touch with your customers. Keep them up to date with what’s going on in your business, of course, but also try to extend the relationship outside of just business. Personal touches like forwarding an article about something you know they’re engaged in – a sport, hobby or cause for example – can go a long way to encouraging a referral – when the right moment comes.  

Another way to get referrals, is to give referrals, and before long you’ve built a mutually beneficial relationship that becomes your own little referral network.  

  1. Expand your referral marketing horizons

Referral marketing doesn’t even have to be directed at your customers, although that’s the obvious place to start, but you can also look to other sources too. 

Many businesses run employee referral programs, with staff encouraged to introduce new clients from their own personal networks.  

Another option is to consider building a small group of ambassadors. People who are, perhaps, reasonably well-known or well-regarded in your industry, and are happy to champion your business when they get an opportunity to do so. 

In these situations, it may help to incorporate a financial (or other) incentive.  If you go down this track, put formal agreements in place, so everyone is clear on what the rewards and benefits are, and what has to be done to achieve them. And be ready to put some time and effort into maintaining an active relationship with the potential referrer, otherwise you’ll drop off their radar, incentive or not. 

Additionally, are their other non-competitive suppliers in your industry who work with the same target market that you could build a relationship with so that you can refer opportunities to each other? 

So that’s it, what do you think? Any ideas in here to spur your referral marketing?

Are you doing any referral marketing at all? Give us a shout if you’d like some advice or assistance with it.

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