As a part of my referral marketing strategy, I routinely make referrals to other products and business service providers that I know or use regularly. In 99% of the cases, I’ve actually used the product or service myself or have a good relationship with the person who is providing it. In rare cases, I will recommend something on the strength of the recommendation from a trusted colleague. And, of course, I love to receive referrals from happy clients.
However, referrals don’t always go as you like, even though you may love the product or service you are recommending, or have complete faith in the referral. In one case several years ago, the referral went horribly wrong, much to my dismay. This was a referral was to a service provider whom I had used regularly for years, but the feedback I got from a client was that the service provided was terrible and ended up costing far more than the original quote.
A more recent case was from a colleague whose services I had never used but was someone with whom I had a pretty good relationship and great feedback from other customers whom I respected. In this case, the provider dropped the ball repeatedly, didn’t communicate with the people whom I had referred, and didn’t provide the quality level of service I knew he once had.
Unfortunately, in both cases, my reputation suffered. The client who felt she had been misled by my referral had purchased many of my products and services. After this incident, I got an email from her conveying her disappointment in my referral. She promptly unsubscribed from my lists, dropped her membership to my site, and I permanently lost her trust and her business.
In the more recent case, I called the provider to let him know about the feedback I had received from my referrals and to discuss what was going on with him. He managed to fix the situation with some of my referrals, but not all. I no longer feel I can trust him, so I’ve made my last referral to this business.
Try as you might, you can’t control the results that your referrals have with the businesses to whom you make the referral. You simply hope that they have the same results that you did.
1. Purchase what you have recommended. I rarely recommend something that I haven’t purchased myself. Sales letters are misleading, the product doesn’t always deliver what the sales letter promises, or it’s not of the quality I expected. The best way to determine if this is something I can wholeheartedly recommend is to buy the product or service myself and evaluate it.
2. Use your purchase. Many products or services I use have unexpected quirks that impede my usage. It could be that a program has a bug in it or that when the service provider said x, he really meant y. The only way you’ll discover this is by actually using, reading, or implementing what you have purchased.
3. Develop a relationship with the owner/provider. In most cases of the products or services I recommend, I have a relationship with the owner. I can pick up the phone and call that person to speak with him/her, or send that person an email and know that I will get a fairly quick response. The relationship I have with that person enhances the strength of my referral because being both an ardent fan of the product/service and of the provider boosts the passion and the enthusiasm with which I make the referral.
Referral marketing is key to every business, and, in fact, some businesses grow through referral marketing alone. Don’t let the referrals you make in your business damage the trust and credibility you hold with your customers. Follow these three proven strategies to help you ensure that every referral is a great one.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.
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