The Ripple Effect of Referrals
Picture what happens when you throw a stone into a lake – the ripple effect! Compare this image to a new client being referred into your practice. If one person refers someone, that’s nice but it’s just a tiny ripple that doesn’t go very far. If 5 people each refer someone, that’s 5 ripples that go farther, overlap and last longer. If those 5 each refer 5, that’s 25 ripples creating an unstoppable current in your business! Do your referrals create a tiny ripple or a tidal wave?
Research shows that on average most people know about 300 people. The 300 people that you know each know 300 people, and they each know another 300, and so on.
Do your 300 people all know about your wellness business? Do they all know that you want to get referrals through word-of-mouth? Do they know how to refer people to you? They probably would be happy to send others your way, but you need to educate them on how to refer, using these 3 criteria:
1. Why to refer (the best clients come from trusted sources)
2. Who to refer (your target market, your Ideal Clients)
3. How to refer (with a system or process)
The ultimate goal of marketing is not just to attract clients; it is to develop a 100% referral-based practice consistently filled with Ideal Clients. So ideally, as you implement various marketing strategies, all of your clients eventually will come by word-of-mouth recommendations from people in one of four key contact groups:
1. Personal Contacts
2. Professional Contacts
3. Prominent Contacts
4. Power Contacts
Let’s explore each of these 4 referral sources in detail as they relate to your marketing:
4 Referral Groups
1. Personal Contacts: Family and Friends. These are people who know, like and trust you the most. They are your unpaid support team – ambassadors of goodwill for your business! These are the people you market to in Everyday Marketing – family and friends you see frequently and casually as part of your normal, everyday life.
Sure, most of them know basically what you do for a living. But do they really know exactly what you do? Do your parents know? Do they know what services you offer? How about your siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins? Do they know who’s in your niche and what their challenges are? What about your best friends? Do they know the benefits, results and solutions you provide?
Have any of these people experienced your work? Could they accurately describe your work to a potential referral? Have you educated your Personal Contacts on how to identify Ideal Clients and refer them? Start with those you know best. Start informing them, educating them, and asking them for referrals! Go ahead – don’t be shy! They love you and want the best for you. They will take pride in helping you be successful!
2. Professional Contacts: Clients, Customers, Colleagues, Business Associates. This group is made up of people you meet in your business environment – clients, colleagues and business associates. Your clients are a goldmine of referrals! They could be your most reliable referrers – even more than friends and family – because they are currently working with you, making them genuinely enthusiastic, with your benefits fresh in their mind! Former clients are also a good source of referrals. People are more likely to act on a recommendation from a happy client than from your doting dad!
The second group of Professional Contacts is colleagues – other health professionals with whom you have a lot in common because of your similar work. You may already know them through structured or informal networking, through other business endeavors, by reputation in your community or from a social setting. Some of them might be your friends, or your competitors, while others may serve the same niche but with a different service from yours.
Business Associates are people other than colleagues – those with whom you come in contact in the course of doing business – both retail and services – such as your landlord, mail carrier, office janitor, web designer, bank clerk, florist, plumber, pharmacist and so forth. They usually have at least a general awareness of your business or know you by reputation. Their work connections make them particularly suited to recommend you to others. Just let them know in a friendly chat that you welcome their referrals!
I have gotten clients from all of these Professional Contacts, and more! Think of everyone you do business with in one way or another. How many Professional Contacts can you add to your list?
3. Prominent Contacts: The Millionaire Matchmakers of the Business World! They are natural networkers who know many people, are popular and well-connected, and have a knack for matching up people who can help each other in some way. You may meet them in many places – work, family and social events, community work, church, school, café, sports or networking. They connect with a lot of people on a regular basis, they are skilled at making connections between people and enjoy making referrals.
You don’t interact with Prominent Contacts as often in your everyday life. It is a more formal business relationship, so you will need to make extra effort to connect with them. But it is well worth your time to do so, because they hold a key to much potential growth for your business.
You don’t need a lot of Prominent Contacts – because they know so many people that they will do a lot of promotion for you in the natural course of their life. But you do need to keep in touch consistently over time with your Prominent Contacts. Don’t drop them like a hot potato after you meet with them or after they refer someone. Keep them up-to-date on your progress. Once they refer someone to you, they will take a more personal interest in your expanding success because they have helped make it happen, so their reputation is on the line, as well as yours! They have invested in you by trusting you with someone they know. They will most likely continue to refer if you keep yourself and your biz fresh in their mind with regular contact through email and postal update letters, your weekly ezine and personal meetings.
4. Power Contacts: Major Source of Your Niche. Power Contacts connect with many people and have the potential for many referrals. Power Contacts are individuals, organizations, services, companies or stores that serve your target population. They may or may not be in a business similar to yours, and you may not know them as you do your family, friends and colleagues.
Their customers may be your Ideal Clients, even though people go to them for different reasons than they go to your business. For example, customers don’t shop at a natural foods store for acupuncture or a neck adjustment. But the store can be a rich source of clients for you as a practitioner – once you learn how to open this treasure chest of referrals! You may meet some of these key people or businesses through a networking group, through a mutual acquaintance, by their presence in your community or even cold-call them from the phone book.
Make lists of everyone you know in each of the four categories of contacts: Personal, Professional, Prominent and Power. Call or write them one-by-one, until you have reached everyone on every list! Invite them to meet with you to discuss your business. Make it easy for them to refer by giving them coupons or vouchers to give to their contacts. And of course, make sure all your referral sources have a stash of your business cards.
By tapping into these 4 profitable sources of referrals, you will grow your business and be able to share your gifts with a larger audience of Ideal Clients! The Ripple Effect – tiny splash or tidal wave – the choice is yours!