Consider the following three scenarios:
- Sue and Gary arrived in town and wanted to stop for lunch. They stopped at the local petrol station to fill up and asked the attendant for the best place for lunch. He told them to go to the pub for a counter meal.
- Michael and Sarah stayed overnight at the guest house and asked the owner where they could go for dinner in town. She told them to go somewhere in a nearby town because she could be assured that they would be open.
- Dave and John got chatting with another couple at the airport who gave them some great suggestions about where to go based on their own experience.
Is your business being talked about among your local community and by other travellers? Or are you missing out on business because either the locals don’t know about you, or people don’t think to recommend you?
Generating business this way actually has a name and is a legitimate marketing strategy. It’s called REFERRAL MARKETING. And what’s even better, it’s FREE!
Here are some of the ways you can get referral marketing to work for you:
- Get to know all the local businesses in your town
- politely ask them for a few minutes of their time to explain your business, or even better, invite them to come and visit and give them a good reason to come and experience for themselves.
- Spend a few minutes with the owners of all the local businesses such as the petrol station, retail shops, and anyone business that deals with customers who can be a great referrer to your business.
- See if you can leave some cards of brochures in their work place and offer to the do the same for them if appropriate
- Be upfront about what you’re doing, it doesn’t hurt to be direct about wanting them to refer your business to their customers
- And of course, refer your customers to them in return
- Make it easy for your customers to refer you
- Provide links to your business on Trip Advisor or any other review site on all your communication with customers: website, email, social media, brochure
- Provide business cards/brochures for customers to take with them and pass them on
- Remember customers that have a good experience with you will be happy to write a review or refer you to their friends, many people would gladly refer you or write a great review, make it easy for them
- Add an ‘email this to a friend’ button on your website
- Remind past customers to refer you
- If you have captured your customers contact details, send them a thank you for the visit email, and ask them to review or refer you. Don’t forget to include details of how they can refer you including links if possible.
- Give them a card upon departure that they are able to give to the next person they see, it might even have a special code or offer on it so you can track the success of this strategy
- Provide awesome service, all the time
- People are more likely to recommend you if they can be sure they won’t be disappointed
- If your potential referrer is at all dubious of the service you’ll provide they won’t refer you in case you disappoint them. Always provide the best service you can and you won’t need to worry about this
- If you can’t say anything nice about another business, don’t say anything at all
- Customers don’t like to hear you bad-mouthing other businesses. Do the right thing and keep your comments about other business nice, or not at all.
- How you respond to complaints and fix problems speaks volumes about your business.
- Things go wrong, we get that. It’s how you deal with it that can really cement your business in the mind of a customer and as a result get them to refer you to others even if their own experience wasn’t brilliant. Bear this in mind when responding to bad reviews on social media, and when fixing problems that occur on the spot.
If you need any help with these or any other element of your marketing, get in touch with me and we can work it out together as part of the bigger picture in your marketing effort.