Everyone likes to do business with someone they know and like. If you’re looking for a new road bike and your friend, Ian, happens to own Crank’n Cycles, he’ll be your go to guy, and chances are he’ll give you a great deal. Happy and confident with your purchase you’ll be busting to show your mates in the bike club and tell them how Ian (also in the bike club) gave you such a good deal
But these days a great many purchasing decisions are made without ever walking into a shop. People will go to Google, enter the type of product they’re looking for and browse through the options. But in the back of many minds there lurks a few uncomfortable questions. Who are these guys? How can I be sure the product is good? Can
I trust the product and the people promising to send it to me? If I don’t like it, will they give me my money back, and how hard might that be?
Clearly, if you’ve got the choice you want to buy from someone you know, or someone that’s been recommended to you. Ian the bike shop guy isn’t silly either. He actually started this bike club knowing how many people were interested in this growing recreational sport. The club’s growing fast. New sub groups are forming. Everyone needs a bike, all the lycra, shoes and all the rest of the paraphernalia. It’s a gold mine! And all of the members of this growing network take great pride in telling their mates what a great place Crank’n is to get a great deal. Ian is looking after his network. Everyone knows that if they refer a friend there’s something in it for them – discounts and free stuff, and everyone likes free stuff! Ian sponsors the club’s online newsletter and guess what, that site links to Crank’n’s online shop. Now isn’t that convenient! So how do you develop a network that cranks like Crank’n Cycles. It’s obvious that you’d like all your customers to refer a friend or contactor increase your exposure to more and more, hot sales prospects. Some experts will say ‘Ask every sale for a referral?’ And it should be said that if you don’t ask you don’t get. But not everyone’s happy about being asked for a referral unless of course, they’re so happy with the product and service they got from you they want to sing it from the roof tops. It follows that the better they get to know you, the more engaged with your business and your message they can be, the more likely they are to refer your business and services to their considerable network of contacts.
So the first step is…
1. Thank the purchaser
Let your new (and old) clients know you really appreciate their business. It’s so easy to say thank
you…but take it one step further. Ask if they were happy with their purchasing experience. These days it’s never been easier to do this. Sites like Survey Monkey let you contact your clients to get their feedback. This serves a couple of very important purposes. It lets you know if what you’re doing is right, or more importantly if something needs fixing. So you get the chance to apologise for what went wrong, fix the problem, and hopefully get some great positive
feedback. And if things are going right you can ask for a testimonial which you can then add to your website
content, Facebook page or Twitter feed.
2. Ask for the referral
This is where you get the chance to say, “Would you recommend us to your friends?” By this stage your
‘referee’ knows who you are and you have a level of trust. You’d hardly walk up to a total stranger and ask for a referral. But once you’ve made a connection you can develop the relationship to where your client feels
there is value for them in making a referral. In other words, give before you ask to receive
3. Giving added value for referrals
Offer an incentive like a percentage off the next purchase or FREE offer with next purchase. Or just
send a FREE thank you gift, magic moments of unexpected generosity which make your clients even more satisfied they chose to do business with you. One Australian supplier of online printer ink cartridges always includes a handful of lollies in the packing carton giving every purchaser a little ‘happy moment’. In almost any basic marketing text you learn that the most important advertising you can use is word of mouth. It costs nothing but it’s priceless. So it is with your on-line referrals. These are your walking talking gold plated apostles. But it only works if your customers are engaged and satisfied
Keeping customers in the Loop
Consulting firm McKinsey say that the most important part of the customer journey is the creation of an effective ‘loyalty loop’. It’s where your client, refers a new client, then that client refers new clients… and on and on. In the new world of digital marketing, your website is your shopfront. The more engaging and easy your site is to navigate the more likely your potential client is to click that ‘BUY NOW’ button, and you’re into ‘signing them up.’ Here they’re opening the door into their lives. You get their email address and ask them to like them on Facebook or Twitter.
Through these amazing new social media you become involved with their networks. If your clients are happy to be doing business with you they tell their friends. But the flipside is if there not, they also tell the world. Think,
the negative Tripadvisor or Urbanspoon review. According to a Nielsen Global Shopping Report, 57% of online shoppers look at reviews before they buy. By constantly monitoring social sites, blogs and forum discussions, you can stay involved in what the world is saying about you. Fix small problems before they become big ones, and
publicly show your appreciation to your ever growing throng of enthusiastic customers.
Build your online relationships and referrals, like Ian built the bike club. Think of Apple and all their apostles. If there’s an Apple event or new product about to launch, their huge family of devoted followers literally fall
over each other, some camping out all night, to be the first in line to buy. Create a winning online relationship strategy, and the world will be beating a path to your door.