Referrals are the best way to gain business.
In today’s market we don’t believe an advert, and we are quick to ‘spam’ anything that doesn’t match our attention. And don’t even hint that you are trying to ‘sell me’ because I’m allergic to being told. But if I see that my colleagues think its good, or you link with ‘people who brought this also brought…’ when I’m buying an item, then I’m likely to give you a few moments.
People telling other people, works.
It works best when they are excited talkers about you, when they are fans. It works best when they can say it in a few words and you get it (simple ideas a child would get), when it’s remarkable (worth remarking on!), its current and offers a marked benefit to the hearer (what’s in it for me is clear).
So how can you make your stuff spreadable by your fans?
Here’s a few suggestions gleaned from people like Seth Godin, Andy Sernovitz and others:
1. Ask people to spread your word! Be nice but give them a call to action. So perhaps they can click on a link and send it to a friend, - you ask them to blog you on your site, - you give them a voucher which they and a friend can use etc. Make them look good by sharing.
2. Emails are free. You can add banners and your latest topic in them so every time you email, people see something about you (good question is what do they then do?) But don’t be annoying with miles of fine print – who reads that? And its got to be worth talking about!
3. Are you taking part in networks outside of your own? If you’re not part of their lives you’re not listening, and why should I listen to you?
4. Write a blog. Blogs are sticky in Google searches.
5. How easily can your stuff travel? Emails that forward, tools make it fast. So make good-looking newsletters, which are easy to forward, and make sense when they are. Be funny, be different, give stuff away, and give value (holding onto everything doesn’t work anyway!)
6. Respect privacy, and be authentic and real. The number one ‘sin’ is to not do what you said, and to show a lack of integrity. Do that and your will also get referrals! If you make a mistake apologies! (Its amazing how you avoid people who can’t actually say ‘sorry’)
7. Put in a ‘free prize’. When I was a kid the cereal choice was all about the toy in the package. It cost ‘zero’ but its value was the cereal pack. What can you add that would hit the spot for your readers? It will be something creative that you already have – ask your staff.
8. Think about who your talkers are. Where are they? Develop products that they want, as opposed to demanding they buy what you have got. Often simple creative changes can relaunch your existing IP.
9. Tell stories. People like stories and remember them. How can you re tell your success? Can you get your fans to talk with each other – social media encourages groups to talk about issues – to form their own interest groups. Have you anything interesting? (Don’t try and tell groups what to talk about or join groups to advertise in them, that’s not authentic)
10. Be nice.