What do you want to accomplish in the last few months of the year? Select Business Team members have a variety of goals, but one that we heard from many members was to work on their marketing plan.
For some, working on the referral marketing plan means creating one and for others, it means fine tuning it and implementing what they have already created.
If you don’t have a referral marketing plan, you can spend thousands of dollars working with a marketing consultant which can be very valuable. A good consultant will help you identify your target market, your ideal client and created a few tactics that focus on putting you in front of the right audience. For those in business development, having a simple plan can often have a big impact.
Service professionals like attorneys, accountants and financial advisors, often use referrals ast their primary marketing tactic. There is a big push to get found online today but many people feel that the online shopper is often a price shopping which isn’t often ideal. So they focus on finding referrals, both from clients and from outside referral partners (also known as strategic partners).
Generating referrals is not difficult and it doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does take some planning and discipline. Referral marketing is a great way to fill your pipeline.
Here are 4 ideas for creating a year end referral marketing plan
- Identify 20 people you have met with in the past that seem like they could refer you.
- Map out a calendar for when you can meet with them. Maybe you meet someone every Tuesday for lunch or Thursday after work for a beverage. Block out that time on your calendar so you don’t book anything else.
- Send emails to 5 people at a time, letting them know you’d like to get together again and identify the Tuesday’s and Thursdays you are available (or whatever dates you choose for meeting with your referral partners)
- Add the dates to your calendar as they are scheduled
We Met, Now What?
This is a common question. You meet with someone that you think is a good referral partner and nothing happens. Sometimes changing your meeting format can generate additional referrals.
Let’s talk about the actual meeting. Generally they start with pleasantries, conversations about family, hobbies, maybe work. Once that has completed, have a few targeted questions ready to dive into the referral process. These questions might be:
- Describe how much business do you generate from referrals?
- How often do you create referrals for other professions?
- Which professions do you find you refer to the most?
- When do you talk to your clients about your referral process?
- Do you position yourself as a resource to your clients?
What you are looking for is do they refer. If you are meeting with someone that doesn’t really refer others, then you might want to minimize the amount of time you spend with this person. If you feel that some coaching might help them create a referral opportunity, then work your magic!
Can You Help Them?
Once you decide if the individual is someone you want to build a relationship with and add them as a referral partner, you also want to focus on helping them. In theory, the more you help them, the more they will help you. This doesn’t happen all of the time, but your creating a business opportunity for them is a fantastic first step.
Ask them, ‘How can I help find you a client’? You must thoroughly understand what they are looking for in a referral so that you know you are sending them the right type of business.
In addition to clearly understanding the types of clients they are looking for, it will also be important for you to clearly understand the type of client you want to work with. If you say, someone going through a life change, you are giving a very broad message. Someone going through a life change could be someone going through a divorce, moving to a new city or changing jobs. While this might be a good description of who you are looking for, if they don’t have any money, do you still want to work with them? If they are a start up business, do you want them as a client? The only correct answer is who you want as clients, just be clear and specific as that will help you generate more referral opportunities.
The Follow Up Portion
Creating a referral marketing plan does not need to be a complicated process but you need to be diligent. Meeting with someone one time will probably not generate referrals for you. You might need to meet with someone 3-4 times before they feel comfortable referring their best clients to you. Keep the following in mind:
- How often will you reconnect?
- What will you do to help others and how will you track this?
- Create a system for tracking the referrals that you receive and who referred you so you can properly thank them.
- Develop your thank you plan for referrals received and create a system for implementing this
If you need help with creating your referral marketing plan, let’s talk and see if we can help. Click here to schedule a time that is convenient for you. The first 30 minutes is on us to see if we are a good fit for you.
About the author: Debbie DeChambeau has been helping organizations create referral opportunities for over 20 years. She is the co-author of Renewable Referrals and is the host of 3 podcasts. Select Business Team, Divorce Exposed and The Business of Insurance. She works with service professionals such as attorneys, accountants and financial advisors but has a love for helping insurance agents as she has been part of the industry since high school.