If you think “referrals” are just an upscale way of describing good “word-of-mouth,” you’re missing out on one of the simplest, yet most sophisticated, marketing tools in your arsenal. Take some of that time you’re spending learning how to maximize your virtual presence on Facebook and Twitter to consider the multiple ways referrals can build your business off-line and in person. For example, this is a category that includes:
- Referral Alliances
- Indirectly Generated Referrals
- Directly Generated Referrals
Your ultimate goal should always be a face-to-face meeting, so when you get a lead from a client or business acquaintance, be sure to ask for a personal introduction. You can make your meeting even more effective, however, if you arm your client (or friend) with some potent ammunition. Often, people who would like to refer you hesitate because they don’t have the words to express what differentiates you from the herd, what makes you special. You can ease their path by making sure they understand your value proposition in advance, not just by handing them your marketing materials, but in conversation as well.
These are your clients’ other “trusted professionals”, the attorneys, CPAs and estate planners whose names come up most frequently. Once you’ve identified them and their specialties, you can approach those who share multiple clients with you as a sound basis for future referrals. Your goal should be turning a few of these trusted partners into referral alliances. It’s a strategy that takes time and even creativity. Having clients in common is a start, but the chances of developing a relationship with these professionals improves by making additional contact on a personal level—inviting them to lunch, consulting them on tax or estate questions, adding them to your holiday gift or greeting card list.
INDIRECTLY & DIRECTLY GENERATED REFERRALS
Positive results from referral alliances might be called indirectly generated referrals. It’s an effective technique, but so are the directly generated referrals that result from your own personal involvement in your community, the schools your children attend; your church, mosque or synagogue; local sports; art exhibits; and fundraisers. If joining a country club or fitness venue means taking more time away from your desk, as well as spending a few more bucks, consider these activities to be investments in your future.
You could classify such activities as networking, but what is networking if not a direct way to generate new prospects? Take you efforts even further by having your firm sponsor a charitable or community event. Not only will you impress new prospects, but you’ll also give your existing clients reason to take pride in their choice of you as their independent financial advisor, a win/win situation.