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Why referral marketing needs to be in your marketing mix

You’re probably familiar with these promotions that companies do where you get a free month of subscription to something if you get a friend to subscribe. Or perhaps you get some kind of a bonus for signing up a friend. Why do companies use these approaches? Because they work!

What someone else says about your business, product or service is always more impressive to people than what your marketing says about your company.

We live in a world where trust is rapidly eroding, thanks to a growing number of people who abuse trust. Marketing expert Seth Godin likes to say that “all marketers are liars.” What he means is that we are so used to exaggerated claims and statements that we no longer believe anything companies say about themselves or their products.

What someone else says about you is always more impressive than what you say about yourself.

Because of this reality, referral marketing is becoming ever more important as part of an overall marketing mix. You still need to do traditional marketing. You need brochures. You need a good website tied closely to your brand. You need E-mail marketing and social media. These are essential for creating awareness about your company (what we call visibility), and the credibility that comes from seeing your name and how it’s presented consistently. Those things help build confidence that you are capable; they even help those who are referring you by giving them something to work with. This is the essence of branding. But you also need referral marketing. And never more than in our current marketing climate.

What referral marketing does for your business is to create sales without you having to work for it. There is nothing more powerful than having someone else go to a person they trust and have them recommend you. The trust is already built in.

Here are three examples from my own life.

1 One of my clients recommended me to a friend. During my presentation I began going through my credentials to show that I was capable of filling the need that she had. She responded by saying that she trusts her friend, and if her friend said I was the go-to person, then that meant I was the best person for the job. She just wanted to get started.

You can’t buy that kind of closing power!

2 One of my fellow BNI members referred me to a company. I walked into their office for my appointment. When you go on your initial sales call, the prospect doesn’t really know who you are. You’re always a stranger at the moment you first enter the business. Normally you must go through a lot of work to build credibility for yourself. You may have to bid against similar companies.

In this case none of that was necessary. My BNI associate had already done the work of building credibility for me. I simply had to live up to the expectation he created. It was not a big process to close the sale.

3 Perhaps the most dramatic example of the power of referral marketing was when I was referred to a businessman who desperately needed strong branding and a website. When I called him and introduced myself, the first thing he said was “thank God!” He was so anxious to talk to me because of what he had heard about me that he couldn’t wait for my call! Again, there is no amount of money I could have spent on marketing to create that kind of expectation. What someone else said about me was far more powerful than anything I could have said about myself.

These three referrals alone led to $24,000 in closed business.

What others say about you is always more impressive than what you say about yourself. Are you ready to have others sell for you? That’s the power of referral marketing and it needs to be part of your marketing mix.

Referral marketing is not for everyone. It takes hard work, commitment and a lot of time. You have to build relationships and this takes a while. It’s like farming. You sow the seeds and nurture them as they grow. When you remain consistent, eventually you reap a bountiful harvest. The more work you put in, the more you get out of it in the end. BNI has honed the art of referral marketing to a high level. With structured systems, mentoring, accountability and proven results, BNI has earned its position as the world’s largest referral marketing organization. That’s why I love it. I encourage you to look into BNI for your business.

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Why referral marketing needs to be in your marketing mix

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