How do I get my clients to help me expand my business?
I have a growing number of happy, loyal customers and would love to find a way to ask them to help me grow. I know they have many friends that would love our products too. How should I go about asking my clients to help me spread the word to their network?
Asking for reviews and testimonials is a great way to ask your clients to help. You can then leverage those reviews into marketing material to promote your business based on Top Rated Reputation and have others brag how your business is the authority in your local market.
You can offer your existing clients a discount for referring new clients to you. Or as the nice weather ushers in, you can assemble by invitation a gathering at a nearby bar or lounge after work hours (Let's say Happy Hour 5:50 to 7:30 PM) where these business owners-clients can meet and therefore create some synergy. Here you can show case your product line(s) in a relaxed atmosphere.
Get an online optimized website and use text alerts. Let me know if you have an interest and I can help you get started.
You can also request a Free Virtual Business Card. Text the word “FREE”, then a space, then L618229 to “55255” . This will help expand your business.
Ideally, there are 3 ways to go about this task.
1. Casually - If you have a good rapport with your clients, request them on a personal level for a referral. Request them for specific referrals, it will make it easier for them to give you a yes or a no for example ask them to connect you to XXXX, because you believe your expertise will help them push their products as well.
2. Semi-formally - If you have delivered a great product to your existing clients, you can request them to connect you to specific contact.
3. Incentiveize them- Give your current clients a 10% discount on the following invoice if any referral they provide signs up for the service.
In my experience, the best form of advertising is word of mouth. We got all our clients only thru referrals and its easier to break into new accounts this way.
But the flip side is also true- if you screw up something, you have a higher chance of the customer bad mouthing you than referring you. So remember a) dont screw up, and b) make sure you ask happy customers for referrals.
Hope this helps!
This is my favorite topic in networking circles. I think most people think that to expand their business, or to gain a greater number of clients and more work, they have to buy some sore of magic PR tools and initiatives. Not true.
I have business cards and on the front side is all the information of what I do (I run my own freelancing operation where I handle communication efforts, content writing, ghostwriting, research, marketing, social media creation and upkeep, etc). In the beginning, I had one client, my father's plumbing parts business her inherited and really could't operate. I went to trade shows, made email lists of all clients and put them into the Panella Clean-Out database. I started writing newsletterrs, giving promotional incentives. etc.
After that experience is what my freelancing really took off! I got hired by a best-selling author who asked me to be a researcher for his book. I then got hired from a motivational speaker/author/and big charity guy who found me online. Soon, after that I moved from MD to MA where the first author worked and lived. He got me clients in that area because of referring them, and they would do the same. 5 years later, I still get work I love!
My advice is my request on the back of my business cards, "We love referrals! The greatest compliment I can receive is referrals." I think everyone does so much to market their product, or service (which you very well should), but if a friend tells a friend, then tells two more people- you've now got chain going. And sometimes it keeps going on, no one stops it.
But there are always other methods besides word of mouth, though I think it works best and its the oldest form of promoting. You can have a website with a "Testimonials" page. This is an opportunity for clients to write their experiences (and if you don't like it, you don't post it!). I don't know what it that you do, but there are also review sites. You can't personally what they write, but make sure you keep up with what you are writing. I know I was once asked by a chef friend to write a review on the site called, Yelp! I went to his restaurant, ate his food, sincerely liked it, then went home and wrote a positive review. I saw why he asked me, one woman wrote a scathing review, attacked and insulted all of the staff! Though I knew him, he was in the back cooking, so my friend who went along and I mostly interacted with the waiters and bus attendants. They couldn't have been sweater.
So, keep a watch for those- the easiest way is to make a Google alert that will send you can e-mail anytime your name is mentioned, or your business name is. And you may not be able to delete a nagative comment, but a friend can counter it with a positiove one. Or some sites, like I know on Trip Adviser, the owner/manager/or whoever is the employee that monitors that, can comment on a posting. Just be professional about it and apologize "they felt that way about your service and that they should be open to giving it another try because that is something you have never heard anyone say. And mention, you take pride in your customer service and your skills to do the job, and so on..."
But, word of mouth is definitely old school, but it works. And when it comes to the world of social media, you can ask a customer you know well to perhaps write a testimonial for your site, or on any review site of their choosing.
I hope my long rant helped! And good luck in getting your customers to be involved in promoting your services.
Similar to what's been said, ask those clients nicely if they would refer your services to those that they know could benefit. Continue to provide great customer service and continue to check in on those that you have worked with in the past. Maybe even offering them a small discount on services if they refer other clients to you could work as well, but that would have to fit into your business model.
Just create a killer referral program. We wrote a book on it. I have it in digital form. Email me if you want a copy.
Get testimonials that you can put on your website and that you can print and put into a binder so you can show people.
Ask them for referrals consistently.
Give outstanding customer service and show them that you genuinely care and aren't just out for a buck.
Educate your customers on how to recognize when someone else needs your services.
There are thousands of ways and it would take
a little time to see what your specific needs are but you could try a coupon or voucher for starters.
There are different ways, but the simplest is the direct -
YOU: (client's name), you said this campaign is really paying off, and in general you're pretty happy with how I'm helping you, right?
CLIENT: Yeah, you're doing a great job.
YOU: Well I was wondering about other owners you know who I could help as much. Would you scroll through your contacts and I'll jot down the names and numbers.
First be extremely respectful of them. So many people press their clients and friends into referrals... very tacky for sure.
1) As Tom Smith said "as for testimonials..." precisely Tom! Then you can share those on social media.
2) If your clients have social media, ask them if they might share their testimonials on their social media channels.
3) Offer something special for referrals who actually purchase something. Oh, like some percentage off their next order, etc.
Try those for starters....
I think the question I would like to know is, "Why do you have to find a way to ask them to help you grow your business?" meaning what is holding you back, what haven't you already asked?
I ask the question that way to get you to think about what blocking factor is coming up that is holding you back from just doing it?
If you have great product, your customer are happy and love working with you then in my opinion the ask is very easy. But in saying that is there a feeling that is holding you back? A F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) that is making question how you should do it?
If you need a system Tom said it best
1) Setup a referral system that your clients who refer get 10% to 15% your product.
2) The ones who are star referral people, do some research about them and find what they personally like. For example maybe Baseball or Hockey tickets. When they refer a big order or maybe X amount of clients buy them tickets to the next game and just thank them with the tickets. Now the key here is don't tell them up front, "Hey John, if you get me X clients I will by you tickets to the next game". The best way to do this in my opinion is ask everyone you know to to refer and recommend your product. The stars that rise to the top are the ones you do the research without them knowing and then surprise them with the personal Thank you. Which in this scenario would be tickets.
Most people make the mistake of providing a teaser up front as a carrot and hoping people who work for it. If you just ask for referral and the stars naturally show themselves and you reward them for it. You will see them help you out more.
3) Video testimonials- If you can find a great videographer in your area and get video testimonials that you can share out through the social sites. You will start to see an increase in referrals.
4) Have a lead generation system that you can track your clients, referrals and purchases. This way you can give back to the clients who are helping you grow your business. Also follow up on past clients you haven't heard from in a while and of course follow up with new leads.
Good luck in your business,
Great question & many good answers below. Word of mouth marketing has been the cornerstone of my business for 31 years; we've never advertised. The only thing I might add to the great suggestions below is my "buzz" question:
Who do you know that I might help in the same ways as I've helped you?
Taking this approach is very casual & a little less demanding than some of the methods below.
Good Luck! Steve
I think that all the suggestions already offered are excellent. I don't know what type of product you sell. If it's a simple "widget" then my suggestion probably won't help. If it's a service and product business, I may have something interesting for you. If you REALLY want to take a different direction, then turn your best clients into a sales force that pays you. I've done it twice; once for my own software company and again for my last assignment. I've documented the entire process and the best part is you may already have many of the pieces in place to deploy this quickly. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly. - Mitch
Since you have already developed happy, loyal customers congratulations!
A few ways to expand business:
- Ask if they know anyone who needs your services (aka referrals)
- Run a campaign for referrals and offer a significant discount, free services
- Run a cross promotion with your favorite client
- Automate your relationship building with existing clients
- Ask for additional business
- Develop new services or products
- Identify complimentary services and joint venture!
Most people love promoting their favorite product or service! Think outside the box.. the next person you bump into could be your next client!
You already have lots of good advice. Let me just give a little different twist to the 2 main things you need to do: get testimonials and get referrals.
TESTIMONIALS: If you have pinpointed how you distinguish yourself and what you know compels customers to buy from you rather than your competition, take the time to come up with questions such that a positive response supports those specific things. Any testimonial is a good one, but if you just let them write whatever they want, they will not be as powerful.
Talk to them and ask them if they would be willing to provide a testimonial. If they say "yes", tell them that you will make it easy for them and just ask them some questions. You then ask them your list of questions. Assuming that they give positive responses, tell them you will document what they told you and will send it back to them for their concurrence. Then you write your OWN testimonial utilizing the elements to which they have responded positively. They will certainly concur that it is what they said, and then you not only have a positive testimonial, but you also have one that supports the things you want potential clients to hear.
REFERRALS: I agree with the others that you should just plain not be afraid to ask for referrals. However, I suggest a subtle difference. In general, people don't like to give referrals but they do like to help people. So instead of asking directly for a referral, say something like: "Joe, I know you have been happy with my product/service. I of course want to continue to grow my business, so could you help me by suggesting anyone you know who might be able to use what I do?"
Doing it this way makes it much less challenging and much more effective.
You can be creative and offer them an incentive.
Give A 5% Referral Fee
Create A Referral Contest
Offer A Free Service Per Referral.
Offer A $250 Gas Card.
Carrie, there are some great suggestions here, I'd like to expand on the testimonials.
A unique way of doing this is by using a video testimonial (says the video producer). Seriously though, how much more powerful is it to hear and see someone express their satisfaction compared to reading a few sentences from someone you don't know? Of course you want that person to refer you in the off chance that they think about you at the right time. But having a 24/7 spokesperson on your site and social media pages allows your visitors to hear and see the sincerity from a real person.
And that person is also going share that testimonial video experience with their friends, family and co-workers so it is like they are having that one on one conversation about you with their whole network! Just make sure they can be heard clearly. A hard to watch video can do more damage than good to your brand.
Best of luck to you!
1. stay in touch with your clients; call to check in from time to time
2. personalize your messages to meet their needs
3. ask how you can support their business
4. provide great service
If you build a relationship with your clients, and truly care about their success the referrals will come!
If your client is happy with your work, he will refer you automatically to his friends.. you have to do only quality work that's it..