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How to generate referral content

10 tips on asking for recommendations

Referrals & recommendations are some of the best content you can have on your site, but sometimes it can be hard getting your visitors to leave one, so Roy Sheppard has put together 10 tips to help you generate them.

Successful small businesses rely on recommendations by their existing contacts, customers and clients for future business. However, most entrepreneurs — even the savvy ones, don’t know how or when to ask or what to say and what NOT to ask. And they feel uncomfortable about it. You can still feel good about what you do when you know how to set the scene ethically for low cost, profitable referrals.

1. Realise that many of your customers would love to give you referrals if only they knew you wanted their help.

2. Make sure your business is worthy of being referred. Make any necessary improvements before implementing your referral programme.

3. Write a profile of potential clients. Define them by age, gender, ethnicity, income level, geographic location, size of company, buying power or responsibility, membership of common interest groups, trade associations and business organisations. This will help the people you ask understand what kind of clients you would like.

4. Target anyone you know who would want to help you. Dismiss no-one.

5. Choose the right time to ask for a referral. Ideal opportunities are when a client offers a compliment about what you have done for them or when they are most happy with your product or services.

6. Ask potential sources open questions such as «Who do you know who…?» rather than questions requiring a «yes/no» answer like «Do you know anyone who…?» Closed questions will not encourage them to think about who they know to refer you to.

7. Ensure the person does not feel under any pressure to comply with your request. Give them the opportunity to say «no». If they do say «no», gently try to find out why.

8. Always thank the source of your referral as well as the new customer. Sending ‘thank you’ notes is a priority — an essential part of your referral system.

9. Tell every new customer/client at the earliest possible moment in your relationship, that your entire business or service is based on satisfying your customers, clients or patients so much they choose to recommend their friends, family and colleagues.

10. If you can’t or won’t ask for referrals, get therapy!