One misconception about business is that if you do a good job with your product or service, referrals will automatically start pouring in.
The truth of the matter is yes, sometimes they do but for the most part they do not. Typically a self-sustaining business is the result of intentional effort that generates what I call “referral momentum”. Most small businesses never get off the launch pad toward any sort of marketing momentum because they make the mistake that referrals “just happen”.
Referral business doesn’t just happen.
You need to have specific methods and processes implemented throughout your overall marketing strategy. Once small business owners learn how to develop and generate referrals on purpose, they begin coming in at an every increasing rate. Once you see the benefits of referral marketing you will find that you will be free to concentrate your time primarily on your chosen profession, whether it involves creating products or services, expansion efforts, or launching a new idea or venture. All of your marketing efforts should be focused toward ultimately attaining the goal of becoming self-sustaining.
You can never take referrals for granted
A word of caution here. It is important that even though your business becomes self-sustaining, that is doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be continue. Upon occasion it does, and yes, of course this is what we all want for our businesses. There are times when unexpected changes can interrupt the momentum you have built. Your client base can change, the market can change, technology can change and stop or slow your efforts. Keeping a consistent referral generating strategy underway will enable you to pick up on these possible pattern changes quickly. If caught early, you are able to respond to these changes immediately so that you can short circuit potential slow downs in your business. In fact as a small business, the ability to respond and make adjustments on the fly is your biggest asset. Large businesses typically cannot adapt or make new changes easily without getting stuck in bureaucracy.
A Referral Strategy Example
In Las Vegas if you visit a peculiar hotel you will be invited to send postcards to all of your friends and family for free. The hotel will even take pictures of you and your family standing in the hotel lobby. Of course the postcard has the website address of the hotel on it and any other offer that could result in a referral being generated. One sneaky thing that takes place is that the names and addresses of their friends and family are stripped off and saved in a database for future mailings. Special offers are sent out referencing that because they are friends of “Bob and Judy Smith” they are going to receive a free one night stay at their resort. It’s a great strategy that works over and over again.
There are of course many other strategies that can be created and it is advisable to have several referral systems in place. Your goal is to reach a point at which your business can survive and thrive on referrals alone.