Finding Your Strength in Referrals
At our firm, we are strong believers that everyone can – and should – market themselves and their services. However, we also realize that not everyone fully understands his or her unique ability to make this happen. We each have professional strengths that we need to understand in order to capture our full marketing potential. The problem we see far too often is that people confuse sales and marketing. They shy away from any sort of promotion because they don’t want to be seen as an infomercial host hawking the latest gadget. But if you can mentally separate the sales aspect from marketing, you will find it much easier to manage your personal marketing style. Marketing is the foundation upon which sales are built. It is the encapsulation of everything regarding your messages, branding, and reputation. But these components—sales and marketing—do work best in tandem. Marketing without sales is too expensive, and sales without marketing are too hard. (Watch this video to learn more.) In marketing your professional service firm, you should try to make it as easy as possible for yourself and your firm. Work smarter, not harder, am I right? The smartest weapon in your marketing arsenal is referrals. In our own research, we’ve discovered that most firms receive more than half of their new business through referrals. If you are in the position to grow your business, referral development cannot be ignored.
Which brings us back to harnessing your strengths. Your strengths will prescribe which types of referrals are in your natural wheelhouse and which you may need to pursue more actively. The Hinge Marketing Group has identified three different types of referrals—each of which plays to particular strengths.
- Experience-Based Referrals are recommendations from the most obvious source: your clients. While roughly 70% of people are willing to give a referral, many do not simply because they are never given the opportunity. Relying on these referrals alone will leave a noticeable gap in your potential market base.
- Reputation-Based Referrals are made by people that have not worked with you directly but know you by reputation. They may be the friend of a client, a neighbor, or the client of someone within your professional network. Although they haven’t worked with you directly, they know what you do and that you do it well.
- Expertise-Based Referrals are based on the idea that you have established yourself as an expert in your field through thought leadership and content creation. These referrals may develop from speaking engagements, blog posts, or social media interaction.
A Final Word
Everyone can market if they know how to identify their strengths and focus on opportunities they may have overlooked in the past. For example, you may be delivering the best client experience in the business, but this is just the tip of the referral iceberg. You could focus some additional energy on establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and growing your professional network—leading to an increase in referral sources and a plethora of new business.