Q: What is Better Than a Referring Client?

A: Vocal, passionate, unwavering fanatic! aka A Brand Evangelist!

Fan of the Brand

Following up my last article, The Power of Referrals  I want to take it to the next level, from a satisfied referring customer to The Brand Evangelist. Here are the top 3 characteristics and 3 ways to develop your own Brand Evangelists:

3 Characteristics:

  •  Vocal/Outspoken: They are not afraid to share their opinion of vendors/products/services they have encountered. Sometimes they will share more about themselves then you actually care to know. But this is who you are looking for.
  • Passionate: You can hear it in their voice even if they don’t specifically do so in words. Passionately willing to recommend. Look to see who is talking about you.
  • Team Player/fan:  They want to feel connected with something bigger than themselves. You may find they participate in many group functions (LinkedIn groups, Meetup, facebook fans and game participants). A sub-characteristic of the team player is they often see the glass as half full. For this reason they tend to be more forgiving of little imperfections.

Strategies for igniting your own evangelist:

  • Start by asking their opinion: Everyone feels their own opinion is worthy of something. And when asked for that opinion, we validate the individual and their opinion. No matter how you slice it, that is perceived as a pat on the back.
  • Isolate the emotional connection to your brand: It could be as simple as the color or it may stir up childhood memories.  Connect your messaging to the emotional conclusion of using your product rather than the process or even the solution rendered. After a little digging, the potential evangelist will more often than not turn on like an emotional faucet.
  • Make it easy for them to shout your praise: Connect and share where they interact. This will simplify the steps required for them to share your greatness as well as bolster their confidence and willingness to boast about you.

As always, quality-in is required if you are going to generate positive evangelism because it works in a very similar fashion in the other direction as well, if your offering is less than advertised.

P.S. Though I am a die-hard fanatical fan of my beloved Philadelphia E-A-G-L-E-S, that is not me in the photo above.

The Power of Referrals!

Referrals

The most reliable way to organically grow your business is through referrals.

You can choose to sit back and wait for referrals from existing clients, your professional network or even your personal network. No question these are not only a great source of leads but also high quality win-to loss ratio leads.  But do you really have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for these types of leads to fill your pipeline?

I am suggesting a slightly more aggressive approach.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating an agrressive sales pitch. That may not be your style nor is it generally a welcome approach in the eyes of your prospect. What I want you to do is to develop a plan to proactively attract and request referrals.  There are several way to attract and/or request referrals but there are some basic steps required to ensure the greatest success:

  • Start with a formal plan
    • To control the process
    • Integrate the proper stakeholders
    • Achieve buy-in by all parties
  • Formalize what you are looking for in a referral (We call this an Ideal Referral)
    • Ask your existing clients; Why they choose your firm?
    • Write up the full description of what you are looking for in an “Ideal Referral
    • Shouldn’t have to say but…Make sure you can deliver what you are asking for!!!
    • My Ideal Referral as an example:

As a Business Development Partner I want to help startups, solopreneurs and small firms in the Delaware Valley realize their growth objectives by aligning marketing efforts with their ideal clients. By providing more than just great idea (We roll up our sleeves and implement the strategies recommended) we help the business owner (or organization) too busy with day-to-day operations to invest in attracting new revenue, often struggle to meet sales goals or who can’t seem to attract the type of clients who appreciate their core offering. To ensure early successes we focus on both old school and new age forms of “word of mouth” marketing such as referral, testimonial and Voice of the Customer programs. If there is anyone in your network who is struggling with these issues or you feel may benefit from our approach, I would be happy to offer assistance.

  • Start asking Existing clients…
    • Ask; Is there anything we could have done differently that would put our offering in the realm of “I can’t wait to tell my friends!”
    • Don’t ask ; “Hey, do you know anybody who you could refer!”
    • Do ask; “How can I help you connect with your Ideal Referral?”  
      • Note: If they don’t know what their Ideal Referral looks like, I would be happy to help them out.
    • Ask; are there others in their network (vendors, suppliers, relatives) with similar needs to their own
    • Ask; Is there anything we could have done differently that would put our offering in the realm of “I can’t wait to tell my friends!”
    • Ask; would they be willing to initiate the introduction
  • Ask non clients…
    • Don’t ask ; “Hey, do you know anybody who you could refer!”
    • Do ask; “How can I help you connect with your Ideal Referral?”  
    • Ask; is it common for your vendors to have any or all of these issues
  • FOLLOW UP like a CRAZY person
    • Don’t wait to make that call…DO IT NOW!
    • Ask; what is the best method to keep communications open?
    • Follow up with the referring party to say thank you and let them know you are on the job
      • This will make them feel like a hero and give them the confidence to refer you again, and again