Client referrals are the lifeblood of most businesses and brands. If you play your cards right, up to 89% of your new customers could come from referrals. This is why you need to invest in providing the most value possible to the clients you already have on hand because this value is what will compel them to spread the word about your business for you. The first in a series of masterclasses, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard share advanced techniques and tactics for increasing client referrals. The advice they share here is quite valuable, so make sure that you don’t miss out!
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Advanced Techniques For Increasing Client Referrals: A Masterclass
Welcome to our very first masterclass in the series of masterclasses we’re going to do here at Brandcasters Podetize. We are doing things that we know are going to help our client’s businesses grow all of our entrepreneurs who follow us on social media and everywhere else. We’re sharing this out with all of them because we want to make sure that you’re growing too. This is a number one question I get when I’m out and I don’t know about you, Tom, I’m sure that you get a lot of questions about sales because that’s your area of expertise in this particular business. The one I get is like, “How do you get people to share you? How do you get them to refer you? How do you do that?” One of our statistics is high.
The big question that I get the most is, “How do you find new customers? How do you generate leads?” and without a question it’s referrals. We think many of you might find the same thing after you create a strong referral program, you might find you’re similar to us. Where for us, 89% of our new customers come from referrals from existing customers so this is critically important to our business.
Let’s talk about a little bit at the beginning here about why referrals matter. Why do they matter to our businesses? Why are they efficient and a great way to grow your company, especially when you don’t have a lot of dollars to spend when you’re bootstrapping it and you’re growing at the very beginning? The thing is that we all know as we’re busy entrepreneurs, especially when we’re starting a company that we are so busy. If the sales process, cold calling, cold contacting and all of those things, they take a lot of time and a lot of effort. It distracts us from growing sound businesses underneath. Tom, how long did it take in the very beginning when we were first trying to reach out, talk to people and get them to join us on our show platform, how many sales calls would you have on average?
To get those first dozen customers was the hardest. It took the longest amount of time because we had no history except for what we had done for ourselves. The good thing in our business is we practice what we preach. We were podcasters too. We did this for ourselves first, so that helped a little bit. I would have dozens of sales calls.
I think we were somewhere around 5 to 6 in the very beginning of calls you would have before you would close someone when you met them cold. That’s an expensive time when you’re the cofounder of a company. It takes a lot of energy and time to make that happen and convince people. When you get a referral though, it’s a lot more efficient.
We’re going to get into some of the details here. When you create a referral program and incentivize people properly, they’re selling for you.
Even now this is our biggest holdup because we should have been adding sales teams right now, but with the virtual world that we’re in at this particular moment, we aren’t able to extend that and start our office as we had planned. We’re going to have to wait three months on that. We’re a little delayed behind what we want to do, but that doesn’t mean our sales are stopping. We have the sales force out there working on our behalf, in the form of our clients and our network so that extends us.
The other great thing about referrals as a new young business, they don’t cost you anything upfront, zero. You mentioned, Tracy we want to build out a sales force. We plan to but early on, we couldn’t afford to build out our salesforce, no way.
We couldn’t afford to pay a salary and then commission on top of it or something like that. In this case, we don’t pay for advertisements so we don’t pay to push out ads for our network, for our shows and the other things. We don’t pay to do that because it’s also inefficient on its way back to us. We’re looking at that saying, “We don’t have to shell out dollars hoping we get a return.” We hate to do anything where hope is your plan. That’s ridiculous. It’s not going to happen. We like to do with a certain return. We’re more than willing to spend the money or in the form of a reward or a form of incentive or some other thing after you received the sale. Building all that into your process is something that we’re going to talk about in the next segments here because we’re talking about 21 different models and ways.
One thing I want to share before we get into that is we haven’t only relied on referrals and only tried referrals as our sales process and marketing process. We have done our fair share over several years. Social media marketing, Google Pay-Per-Click and other paid marketing. We now have years of data from our own business that have shown us the referrals not only are most successful in closing faster, shorter sales cycles, but paid marketing is very hard to do. We were much less profitable. We got so few leads from that. It was a lot of wasted time and money. This comes from not, “Referrals worked for us and we’re telling you about it and it’s all we did.” No, we have tried many different things. We have found through analyzing the numbers year over year that it not only works, but it’s also very profitable. The incentives we give that we’ll talk about are some of the cheapest advertising and marketing we could ever do.Up to 89% of new customers could come from referrals from existing customers. Click To Tweet
As we mentioned, the return on investment, time and energy to close, you’re shortening that closing cycle. You’re shortening your sales cycle so it makes it more cost-effective and efficient in the process as well. It’s looking at all of those things. That’s some of what we’re doing. We’re going to talk about it in different ways. We’ve got 21 different models, ways, key factors, whatever you want to call them, to create a great referral program overall and maybe aspects of it that you would like to incorporate. We want to give you some different perspectives on the things that we know have worked and we’ve tried and/or built-in sub-factors within the program that we utilize. Give you some ideas on how that might work for you and so you can take that back and think of examples and think of some ways that you might adopt in your business because everybody’s business is different. We will look at that overall with you now.
Each one, they’re not in any particular order, but we want to consider that there are different types of referral partners so I want to mention that. Sometimes it’s your clients, it’s like a one-on-one someone shares you, they sell. Your network is a referral partner as well, but you might dive deeper into joint ventures and other things like that. We want to be clear that thinking about that model is it’s not a one-on-one referral basis. We want to look at it from that broader perspective as we head into it. The first one that we should talk about is an attraction because that’s why we started a podcast. We wanted to attract business.
It is the foundation of our business since. It applies to everybody that works with us so it’s a great place to start.
Attraction, being active, being vocal, being out there, being served, being easy to reach like that being out there is in and of itself a referral process. People are drawn to you because you’re putting information out there that they care about, that they want, that they need and that helps you get more in all kinds of ways. In the early days, it was getting me speaking engagements. It was getting me my column, which then got us referrals. They would come in and they would already be warmed up leads. Sometimes the referral isn’t a real person. It’s an entity along the way.
You have engaged in this process weekly in terms of attracting people. Share how you attract people and then how that is a stealth way to warm leads?
It ties into our second factor, which is to give first. I do attraction and giving at the same time. What that is I want to give back into a community or I’m giving back in terms of service, giving back in terms of content and topics, but I’m also giving back in terms of connection. My show, which is now called The Binge Factor, but has been called many things over the years. I have five different shows so I can serve in different markets, areas, in different industries and all of that. The Binge Factor, what I do is I go out there and I interview successful podcasters. We analyze their show. I give them a cycle and the analysis of their binge factor. We talk about bingeability and how it gets created.
In that process, I’m serving them and I’m giving them publicity. Also in that process, I’m demonstrating to them how our services work, what we do, how we do it for our clients and the deep level of commitment we have to the marketplace and the industry. All of that is happening at the same time. I’m attracting high-level successful podcasters through the content that I’m putting out. I’m serving them in the process. What happens is nine times out of ten, along the way they go, “I have a great show podcaster that you would be great for,” or “Can we talk about my show and my business?” It’s a lead generation.
In that process, we usually close in one call because we’ve already gone through so much of them seeing the results of what they get, it’s a lot easier in that process. It does take time. We record. We share. There’s time that spans in there, but there’s no time on a sale. All of that stuff is serving our business, producing content, going out there, getting to become articles and other things. All of it is a part of our marketing machine, but it has built sales, lead, qualification and generation. All of that is happening together. Plus, you got the Law of Reciprocity.
Here’s the thing. As you were saying, you’ve got to give first. That’s one of the things that I have always felt very good about our business and our core principles from the beginning. We are serving first, our show and at events, when we talk, we will give away all of our knowledge for free. There’s nothing we hold back. One of the things that bothered us when we started our first show, we did all this research about how to start a show. What was working for people, each of these different gurus gave you their formula, but we felt they were all holding something back. Over the years, as we’ve gotten into it in more detail, we know they were holding something back and they wanted you to pay for it. That’s not how it works with us. We’re going to give you everything, all our knowledge for free. If you want to do it yourself, more power to you, by all means. We succeed by people deciding, “I could do it myself, but I have to manage 4 or 5 other people do it. I’d have to somehow make sure they’re staying on top of what the latest effective techniques are. I don’t have time for that. I want to spend some money to save time.”
I want to be an accelerator. The other part of it is that what we learned over the years of being able to give and give freely like this is that there’s a thoughtful and valuable way of giving. I can give content away. I can give stuff away, but what’s happening is that it is recreating this too broad type of giving, “I’m giving too much information. I’m giving too much stuff out there.” When I go one-on-one with the podcasters, when I’m doing that, I think carefully and now learn more about their business by the interview process, I can refer more valuably to them. I can say, “After talking with you, you’d be a great guest on this show. Let me make a referral to you and you’ll get even more publicity,” or “You would benefit if you did this with your show and let me give you some on-air mentorship or on the side mentorship too,” and they appreciate that.
We’ve also started to invite all of my Binge Factor guests into our Brandcasters group, which is only clients. The reason we invited them in is that they have more successful shows, which means that they are getting views of our clients and inviting them to the show. We’re creating a richer network for our clients at the same time, a lot of those shows are not as successful. They don’t feel as successful deep underneath. This is helping mentor them without them feeling they blogged a program. That type of valuable and relevant service is important in the process too. We’re giving in a valuable way. The one thing we forgot to mention is and probably it’s the number one thing that I find people forget to do and it’s probably the most often thing mentioned on The Binge Factor on how to get great guests is ask.
When it comes to a lot of businesses that are struggling to get new leads, often when we talk to them, we find out they haven’t even asked for any referrals. This does depend on the fact that you’ve done some business. You’re not such a brand-new startup. You’d have no customers yet.
Even then, you could ask for people to come into your program and try it out. Become part of your program and become referral partners with you after they go through it so you gift them that and work them through.
If you’re starting and you don’t have the testimonials, you don’t have the social proof yet, you can give them either a deep discount to start with you, or even do it for free for that first customer in exchange for testimonial, referrals, things like that. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. Having said that, one thing I want to be clear about here, and I feel this is very important, is that you need to think about your ask and frame it in a way that is more about them. How you’re serving them, what you’re giving them, what’s in it for them and not what’s in it for you, “Would you give me a referral because I need some more customers?” That’s not a very compelling ask for somebody new in business and doing all this, but saying, “I would be very happy to support you and your business in this way, and give you a deep discount. Hopefully, you will value the service and then be willing to share what I did for you with other people that it might be a good fit for.”
Did you see what Tom did right there? It’s like an invitation to do something so you’re letting them know what’s valuable to you should they want to thank you or should they appreciate what you’ve done for them. Being very clear on that is important. I want to tie that into our next way. We’re on number four right now and I call it niching down. I want to be narrow and specific on who my referral client is. Somebody is asking me, it’s like, “You’ve spent so much time with me and I appreciate it. What can I do for you?” You’re going to be prepared with, “I would love to have some referrals who are exactly like this person.” You describe it in great detail. I love that specificity and niching down. We’ve discovered that it works well when you have a show that’s niched down.
I’d rather see a niche down a specific choice because it makes it so much easier for us to visualize who we can serve you best with. When we can search through our brain Rolodex, I keep using that old school term, our brain contact list, the CRM in our brain. Let’s upgrade our tour technology here and go through it and say, “Who matches that?” If nobody matches that, though, if you were so specific in your language about who you were looking for, then what happens to me is when I meet them out there, I go, “You have to meet Tom. You have to meet this person. You’re a perfect match for what they’re doing and you could benefit.”
I’m making a great referral from that side. I’m giving valuably back. It’s in general. Remember that old friends and family like, “Introduce us to ten friends and family.” That was always like nasty to me. It’s not specific and it means I’m going to spam my friends and family. At the end of the day, you don’t want to get people in the mode that that’s what they have to do is to help you and to thank you. They’ve got to spam their network. No, we want them to be specific and help the right person so they know it’s the right match. That’s niching down on the type of people. You might have 4 or 3 different types of people. When you choose one to mention as the perfect referral when you know you’re talking about.Don't ask for referrals before you close a new customer and have started giving them value. Click To Tweet
When I am talking to publishers or PR firms or certain things like that, I’m specific. I might mention the authors. Authors who haven’t launched their book yet, who maybe don’t have a big enough platform and list to be sure that they’re going to hit the bestseller list. Those would be ideal clients for me. I did that specifically. It helps them go out there. When someone comes across their desk, maybe even someone who they meet in a sales capacity, it gives them an ability to give back, pay it forward and refer out, even if they’re not the right fit for their business. All of that is working for you if you’re specific about it. Niching down is important.
Number five, this is one that didn’t come easy for me. I have adapted and learned over the years now and that is to be patient. Don’t ask for referrals before you close a new customer and have started giving them value. It’s too soon and too pushy. That doesn’t mean that sometimes a prospect may ask you, “Do you have a referral program?”
You should mention it in the sales process that you have a referral program when you’re ready, it’s valuable and here’s why you can talk about that. Asking for that referral too soon can hurt you and here’s why. Number one, they haven’t experienced you yet so they’re going to become your client. They’re going to experience you. They’re going to have a deeper level of knowledge of how well you do and what type of person would be the right fit for you from their perspective. They’re able to share that in a deeper way. The referrals that they make are going to become more valuable.
In the early days, if you asked too early, you get more general referrals that maybe aren’t valuable enough to you. We would get any podcasters in the early days when we weren’t specific about it or if we asked too soon. What would happen there is that it would cost us more time and energy to find out that they’re not the right fit for us. If you wait a little bit in the process and you’re patient, it will pay off dividends later in terms of faster closes, better referrals, better clients at the end of the day.
Along the lines of ask, Tom, so many people forget to announce. It’s great when we can announce. I always get permission on it, but if I can announce, “I landed this great new show. We’re so excited that this show is coming on board. We can’t wait for you to see the changes to their show. They’re a successful podcaster.” You go out and make that announcement. What happens is that in and of itself is a referral partner for you because of the association of saying, “I want to be like Mike,” out there. I want to be like so-and-so, this podcaster, I want to be like that,” matters. It’s an association. I caution you though, especially if you’re early and starting out or if you’re in a highly competitive marketplace where people are going out there and competitors are going out there and stealing your clients. We’ve seen it happen.
They’ll come in and they’ll try to contact everyone on your platform. If you put everyone on your testimonial page, all of those people will get contacted at some point by one of your competitors. Be careful and wary of it. When you use that, we don’t use it broadly. We have a lot of clients out there who’ve never been on our website. You might be on the banner that we sometimes have behind us when we do Brandcasters. Your cover art might be on there. We use that in a very limited way. It is a general giving this broad brush, but they’re also small and most people can’t focus on them and find out. It makes it look like we have a lot of great shows, which we do. We’re proud of it, but we don’t do it specifically. One of the good examples of this I see is that a lot of show production companies will bring business cards of all the shows that they produce and they’ll put them out on the table.
What I see happen is that after they walk away from their table, older competitors will come and take one of everybody’s cards. They sell them and get them to switch. It’s not a great method of going about it unless that show is so valuable and your relationship is so good with that client. Use it to your advantage so making an announcement matters. We’re on number seven. Number seven is magic seven. This is thanking, rewarding and incentivizing. This is where our program has done so well.
This has been the most brilliant thing we ever did. We were nervous at first. We didn’t know whether we were giving away too much margin essentially. If it was going to hurt us, we found that was the best thing we ever did and the cheapest incentive and the cheapest cost for us as a company to acquire new customers.
Remember we mentioned that 89% of our referrals come from all of our shows, our networks, our other things out there. It’s a little broader than all of our podcasters referring. It’s our networks and our community grows. All of that, it only costs about 10%. It’s the commission rate. It’s less than 10% overall of our cost factors. You can’t pay for that in the marketing budget. I can tell you that right now and have it be that effective.
A lot of you should know this that you buy episode packages and put them on the account. We don’t sell monthly fees for episode production. You’re going to buy 5, 15 or 25 episodes. The more you buy the cheaper it is per episode. When you refer someone to us that becomes a customer, after they do, we credit your account with five episodes. I’ve got people that haven’t paid us in six months because they’re referring enough people that are the right profile. They are a fit that close and I keep crediting them five episodes. We have a relatively new customer who has referred for people already and two of those have closed. They became a customer first. We don’t let people earn their way into starting a show because that’s a slippery slope. There are too many problems we found with that.
We have had a few podcasters who started referring so fast that while they were recording it before they bought their first episode package, they were getting referrals into it and building up a bigger package for themselves. That hasn’t been happening lately because the referral rate is going. Here’s a caution on that. That works well when you have a good incentive program. When your incentive is very valuable, it’s giving you a discount. It’s giving you more services. It’s giving you more. If you have a very low-cost program or you have something that’s not expensive. What you want to do is to start amping up your rewards over time so you want to reward behavior.
Multiple referrals should get a higher reward level. If you start them out at a rate and then it gets them hooked. As they refer more and more people, you give them a greater reward for doing that because it’s more valuable to you. They’re starting to sell you better. Mapping a program for yourself from an incentive standpoint and looking at that, do you need to exponentially grow over time? Do you need to incrementally? What is going to be your process for doing that? How do you keep it valuable and a true incentive at the end of the day?
It’s an incentive that’s a win-win. While we’re giving this incentive, our customers overall value the service that we’re providing them. We’re not giving them an incentive to trick people. We’re giving them an incentive to share with people they know are like them and could use our service. It’s mostly people that have a real serious need. The referral bonus makes it so much easier for them and certainly incentivizes them to remember to do that.
I want to mention two other things on this side of incentives because it’s such a big program. Rewards and incentives, there can be a model by which maybe you need the referrals and you’re a nonprofit, or there are some other things in the program. You could do a donation model. You can also say, “We have this group of charitable organizations. We’d love to donate. You pick,” and that way, it is a lower-cost model when you’re starting. You don’t have a lot of margins or you don’t have a lot of ability to do an incentive that’s valuable. Now you’re giving somebody a choice of how they give back and a choice of what they do in that process. That can be one.
You can also create a referral process for companies that leave you. We have a lot of podcasters who stop podcasting. They’re done. They leave and they still refer people to us. We don’t have a formal incentive program for it, but we were like, “Should we do it?” I was like, “They’re doing it anyway.” You could have a program for that for people who graduate out of your program and they move into whatever it is that they do. Let’s say you might be a book publisher and you have an incentive program for them referring people in because it’s valuable to you. They’ve gone on and they’re not coming back to do that. Maybe by that connection point, they might become a returning customer. You never know. It’s happened to us.Testimonials are viable and valuable because they’re social proof. Click To Tweet
Still, relative to rewards and incentives, this is a different item, number eight, timely rewards. Whatever it is, you’re going to give people a reward. You want that benefit to be immediate. You want to make sure they’re aware of it. They know that they are appreciated for providing that referral.
Part of it is a timely thank you. As soon as they make the referral, you do a thank you. Many of your rewards will be tied to someone closing, becoming a client and that could take time and that’s not on their schedule. If you can update them occasionally, do it but as soon as that client becomes a client, we produce our incentive. We add episodes to the accounts of our clients and we let them know that’s there. By doing that, it’s immediate gratification, “I did something. I won. I made it happen. I did something great.” They feel good about themselves. If you waited and only did it every 30 days, every 90 days, some rolling affiliate programs do, it loses its momentum with that excitement of the referral process. The timeliness isn’t there. We do hear nasty reputation stories about people who you have to chase down to pay you their affiliate commissions. You hear from whoever you refer tells you, they were a client and you didn’t hear it on the other side.
The other tricky thing, I’ve had this happen where somebody who was referred to me by two different people independently and genuinely within two weeks. They did close. That was a tough situation, but while I could have justified only giving the first person that referred that new customer to us, the referral credits, I ended up giving it to both. I don’t regret that. Obviously, that costs us a little more on that one customer, but the goodwill that it built each of those existing customers.
We did tell them the situation so that they understood the situation and that helps in terms of that. That’s a choice that you make. We find that timeliness in it is a big important part of making sure that that reward becomes a behavior reward. You want to reward the behavior of getting referrals. Make sure that you do that in a timely manner. I want to touch, because I mentioned it briefly, affiliates. Our number nine on our list of 21 ways is an affiliate. We’re seeing diminishing returns on affiliates. We’re seeing a lot of it not working for many people. I want to be clear about why that is, when it can work and when it doesn’t work.
When you’re willing to share your customer base and in turn, receive other customer bases, like this is what you’re doing, you’re exchanging your list. That means that your list is not that valuable to you personally, or you’ve exhausted your sales prospects on that list because I would not give up my client list to anyone. I will do it and we’ll talk about that in a little bit with joint venture partners, people who can add value to my client base, make their shows more successful. In turn, make sure that they’re going to do more business with me, but from an affiliate standpoint, an affiliate refers this more passive model of, “I’m sharing out a program and this is it,” and all that anyone cares about is opens, clicks and signups.
Looking at that, people are getting tired of it and people are getting wise too and we’re seeing open rates drops, conversion rates drop, all of those things. If two companies are going after the same market and you won’t be losing customers through the collaboration and sharing of resources, then you can greatly benefit from this. That’s where we’re seeing it can work well for you. Be sure you’re okay sharing your list and your clients with other people, and then check out those affiliates. Bad affiliates, bad lists, bad programs that you market to your list reflects badly on you and hurts your referrals across the board.
It has to be something that you use and value yourself. As Tracy said is in complete alignment with your existing customers, but also it’s a service or a company that is not in competition with you. If it’s alignment, it works very well.
We’ve done some tests over the last six months and you will have seen it go through our process where we tested somewhere we thought they were tighter partnerships and we tested some that were more traditional affiliate models or JV programs. I could tell you the feedback, the flack, the unsubscribe, all of the things that happened because of not following our model of a tight partnership hurt our list. We saw and it demonstrated in our programs that it wasn’t working, which is what we were seeing out in the marketplace. We did get him paid on ourselves, but we also were careful with our real core client list and didn’t mess with those lists. Those of you out there, you may not have even seen it. Part of that affiliate program is that we do this when we guest some people on the show, I want to steal listeners. I want to steal people off their list, but why not do it with their competitors? That’s our number ten on the list.
There are opportunities especially if your competitors have the same profile customer you would. There are opportunities to figure out and we’ve had it happen. We initially organically happen to have a lot of people come work to us that were with another company. There was this trend. People may not be being served very well where they are. Can we profile and find out who those customers are and then target them?
We didn’t do it unethically. We didn’t go down their pages, but we analyzed their website, their social posts, their connections, and found a list of their podcasters. We took it and we created a look-alike list and that’s how we did it. It was not as unethical. In the process, it happened that some of those podcasters received our promotion, received our ads and so this is where we were testing things out. As I mentioned, we don’t normally do ads, but we were testing some things to see if we could make it work. These are some ways to do that. The other thing we do is follow their employees on their company pages. You’d be surprised by all the information that they share out there. We know we’re sharing it freely, it’s purposeful. We’re sharing it in the best interest of our clients and not to the best interest of our company as a whole as first and foremost.
At the end of the day, they believe in what we’re doing as service. There’s that model of going to our place. The other part of it that I want to say on the steal, you can do it in a soft touch way. Remember I was talking about The Binge Factor or our podcast Publicity Pop-Up, which we haven’t mentioned yet because we’re not doing a bunch of events right now, but we’ll come back around. When we have a profile like I’m looking for shows that are in the health and wellness world, I will invite half of them being my clients and I will invite half podcasters who I don’t know, but I know I have successful shows out there. I invite them to be a part of our podcast Publicity Pop-Up, which is where we go into an event and we offer a publicity opportunity for podcasters to interview top speakers that are on the stage of that event, behind the scenes and/or maybe VIP guests and sponsors and other things. A guest that they wouldn’t be able to get so they get a lot of content in one day. They get the attraction to it and they get visibility in an event that is focused on health and wellness. It’s matched with their industry. They get all these listeners to shout-out so their listener base grows.
You can see there’s a great benefit to what I’ve done. They sit back and this is soft-touch because we follow up with them. We send them emails. We send them all this different information. We take care of the tech for them and we’re there serving them for however many days the event is. In that process, though, it invariably comes up and like, “You are serving your podcasters well. Tell us more about your company.” We didn’t once say, “Now we’ve earned the right, can we sell to you?” We didn’t do that. We didn’t send out an email. We didn’t do any of those things. It’s a soft sell. It happens because we’re creating this touchpoint that they’ve never seen before. These are other ways at which you can serve your competitor’s clients in a better way and attract them to you without truly stealing.
This next one is tricky. We’ve got to touch on it. Number eleven is JV profit sharing.
I put the profit-sharing on that one from my topic because joint venture, which is JV, JV partner is used a little too imply like a curated affiliate list and that’s not what we mean. We mean where you can truly profit share and being in partnership together. In other words, our ideal partner might be a PR firm where we set up and help all of their clients get on shows, start a show, do all of those things and then at the same time, they’re a direct referral source, giving us clients all the time, but we’re giving them value on the other side. There’s a great matchup on it. When they bring me people who aren’t on our platform, I find them some showed up to interview them. We’re doing a give back to their bigger client base as well. There’s a great partnership and our businesses are both growing from the relationship between the two of us.
One thing on the JV partner share is there’s one caution that I have for you on it. If they are white labeling you, meaning that they are not telling people that they are doing business with you. We have found over time that unless you’re extremely competent, there’s no way in the world that they’re ever going to be able to do the services and things that you’re doing. We have 60 employees worldwide. We’ve got a huge team on graphics, blogging, audio editing, video editing and their agency is never going to develop it.
I’m confident in our white label program. They can charge their clients for us and send us all of that and the clients never know they’re doing business with us. That’s okay, but if you don’t have something that unique, that special and you’re that confident in, be careful of a white labeling program. I’ve seen it go wrong so many times where they claim JV partnerships, they learn everything about what you do and then they cut you out of the loop in the process and they take over your services in-house. Be very careful about that when you’re doing this. When you’re public, you’re out there and they’ve announced this partnership with you, and then they start offering up inside services, their clients start to look at that as being unethical. That’s your protection point.Sometimes, you’ll have to refuse service to someone who just isn’t a great fit. Click To Tweet
Vendor partners, I liked this one a lot because there are probably going to be if there are not already in your business, there are going to be other businesses that you do business with. They’re a vendor to you or you’re a vendor to them. You have a tight relationship. They know what you do. They value what you do or you value what they do either way. It’s a tighter relationship. We have this with a couple of different companies. One, in particular, brings us a new customer, if not more than one every month. While they’re doing that, because we’re the best source they’ve found to help meet their needs for their clients, at the same time, we still give them that referral credit incentive. It works out very well. Vendors are a great source because you don’t have to teach them about what you do and why it’s valuable. It’s not like striking some new relationship with somebody that you think their clients might be in alignment with yours.
One of the other things, when you’re talking about affiliates, JVs, all of these things, one of the models that we operate on and have operated on in certain parts of our business, especially in one of my podcasts called Product Launch Hazzards, which comes out of our design business, our product business. I don’t take any affiliate, any commission or anything like that. I ask them to put it into a lower cost to the clients and the people that I refer to. That can build tremendous goodwill and it also helps them close their sales faster because they know the prices aren’t jacked up to cover these affiliates and commission costs. They’re more likely to be great referral partners. That’s a consideration to you. Especially if it’s unimportant or inconsequential to your core business, go ahead and try this, a model like that and see if you can do that. You can do that with vendors, with JV and with affiliates. It works great. Do you want to talk about testimonials? That’s our number fourteen.
Testimonials are very viable. They’re social proof. Even when I get a lot of these warm leads, referrals from existing customers, you’ll get some people that grease the wheels and say, “John trusts you. I’m going to trust you. I value his opinion and I can have a one-call close for a new customer.” You get some people that it’s certainly within their right and perfectly reasonable that they want to do a little more due diligence. They want to know, “Who do you work with? Who have you worked with that I could talk to? Can you show me some examples?” We do on our website post a lot of testimonials, but then reality is, is anybody ever going to post a testimonial on their website that is not a glowing one, that is not speaking well of you? Giving them some other people that they can call and talk to say, “What’s your experience been?” and now they’re happy.
One of the ways to get a great testimonial that becomes more of a referral source is to make sure that you ask for it and do it so we do this. We do an interview with some of our clients over various time at time points. Far enough into the process of podcasting, they have some experience and some benefit has been received by them. They see the return on investment. What we do is we interview them and then at the end of the interview, we ask them if it’s okay if we ask them a few questions. We set up, what value did they receive? Where are they seeing the biggest return on investment? We ask them for that testimonial at that moment.
You’ve already planted in their head why it’s a benefit to them. Now they will utilize their own words to express that when you ask for that referral or use this in gaining a referral. I’m in number fifteen, the buy one, get one event or bring one with you. Incentivizing clients to bring their friends along with them. If you’re doing an event program or you’re doing something like that, or even if it’s a virtual summit or whatever, but offering tickets for doing that or offering a refund, if you both show up. The other thing that we have personally found very valuable is the events and programs and who have offered us spousal and partner programs where they don’t charge us extra. That’s a valuable thing especially when you have cohosts, you have other things like that. If you bring them both together, the decision-makers are in the same room, you have a better shot at closing and a better shot at that instead of the delayed process so it can be valuable to you. Do you want to talk about client appreciation?
A few things work as well as making your clients look good. Giving them shout-outs on social media. Part of it’s the reciprocity, but part of it is making sure that they feel appreciated. When you do that, they often reciprocate. They want to return that.
Positive reinforcement, who doesn’t love that? When they give you leads and referrals, make sure you appreciate that. Make sure you demonstrate it even if it’s just with a thank you. If it can be with a shout-out to your top referrers, there are other things like that, people like that. The other thing is we’ve got to make referring easy. You have to make it so simple. We don’t have complicated reforms, links to remember. We have a simple send Tom an email, send me an email. I’ll send it to Tom. It’s that simple.
Just make an introduction. As soon as we reach out to anybody, usually by email, although some people prefer to text, some people prefer Facebook messenger, some people prefer WhatsApp. I get them all over with all these different communication methods we have now. As soon as I reach out, somebody gets entered into our CRM and I note what the referral sources are, who did it come from. When they close and it might be immediate, it might be a week from now, it might be a month from now or six months from now, when that happens, we know where it came from and we give that appropriate credit.
One of the things to do is the footer in your emails or the bio pages on your site, make sure they have something that people can copy and paste and use as a referral. Why are you valuable? What are you bringing to the world? That way they can simply copy and paste it and send it off to a referral partner because most people don’t like to go, “Tom, meet John. John, meet Tom.” They don’t like it to be that way. Some people do that. I have gotten texts like that, make magic. In this case, if you’ve got to give them a little bit more tool that’s already pre-written, that helps to present your value. That can help them go a long way and making it simple and easy. They don’t say I’m going to make the referral. It is weeks later by the time they finally get around to writing that email because they had to draft everything. You can do that to make it easier and better. That goes to adding continue value. Let’s go into number eighteen.
I don’t know that every company is like this because we’re not involved in every company. We are not looking to produce a podcast and take a fee and see you later. At the core of what we do is helping our clients marketing, grow their businesses and their brands to get new leads. Podcasting is a process and a tool to help you do that. Providing them continued value, whether it’s technically within the scope of work that you’re doing for them or not, if they need some assistance, need some advice or want to run something by us, “We’re going to do it. You have more touchpoints with clients?” They’re going to value you even more. They’re going to want to return and help provide you value.
Keep in mind, there’s no giving that doesn’t have some give back rolled in it. It’s a reciprocal process. In the benevolence here of us going out there and saying, “Look at all these ideas you have for growing your leads and referrals, don’t get despondent about how things are in the world. Try some of these techniques.” We’re also reminding you that we have a referral program and we would love referrals. That’s where we’re doing when you’re adding that value, you have opportunities to remind them without being pushy about it. Remind them that you’re there and you’re giving value.
This next one’s counterintuitive. It’s important. You have to know when to fold. I’m not talking about your own business, but how to fold on a customer, say, “This may not be a good fit.”
We’ve had to do that. We learned that in our product business like the clients, we felt compelled to take, or if we took them for the wrong reasons, they were the worst clients. It hurt our business in the long run. We’ve always been very cautious of it, but refusing service to someone who’s not a fit is a great way to say, “I don’t think you’re ready for us yet. We’re here for you when you want, but I don’t feel good about taking your money.” That’s a great way to do it, but one of the sides of it is you have to go back to the person who referred them. You do that well.
I’ve got to let them know maybe why it didn’t work out. Every situation with every prospect or every customer is not going to work out. You’re in business long enough, you have enough customers and not everybody is going to be satisfied and that’s an unfortunate reality. Making sure you show respect and value to the customer that referred them and offer some insight as to why they didn’t quite work out with them. We’ve parted on as friendly terms as we can and we wish them the best and all that. That’s very good. Now there’s another aspect of refusing to service somebody when they want to buy what you have.
They’re convinced even before you’ve ever talked to them, but yet there’s something about their business or more likely their website that is not in our case, that is going to hold them back from getting the full benefit of what we do. I will tell people, “I don’t want you to buy my service.” Unfortunately, sometimes that makes them want even more. I want to be honest with them like, “If you’re going to hire us for this service, I want to let you know your website is on Kajabi or Shopify or some site that you’re not going to get the SEO value and the organic traffic from Google search because we know from experience that’s what’s going to happen.” We’re upfront about it. We’re honest about that. Refusing service, people will respect you more and still refer other people that are a fit.
We talked a lot about benevolence, I’m serving my community and this goes to the integrity point. Both of those things are critical factors in building trust, which is how you close through and bring those referrals and how you create a greater community in general. That’s the one we’re going to talk about community growth matters, number twenty. If clients are hesitant to refer because they think you’re going to lose focus and attention, we’ve heard this early on. You’re like, “I have a ghostwriter that I’ve used on and off over the years since she’s shocked that I refer her all the time.” She said, “My clients always say, first off, they don’t want to admit that they do business with me.” Second, they don’t refer. They want to hoard you so that no one else gets you.
I say, “No, I don’t think that’s the way.” I do it the opposite. How can you convince them and remind them that there are additional benefits? When she becomes better, more stable in business and have a steady business because I can give her it every single day. She’s a more stable ghostwriter for a bunch of different companies. Her costs go down with me, her services go up and we all win in that process. Turning that negative where they’re saying, “I don’t want to share you,” into a positive of “Look what I’ll be able to do with you when you help us grow this platform together.”
That is a valuable way to flip that around and get the referrals flowing when you’re in an early stage. Let’s talk about our very last one. Our very last one on the list is reconnecting with your existing clients. They’re not just a referral partner but then may also have some things that they don’t know that you now have. It’s been a while. We like to consistently reach out to our older clients, not our older clients, but the ones who’ve been with us the longest to serve them, to audit them, to reconnect them, to thank them. It’s an opportunity also though to remind them of the new services and value. The thing is when you’ve done business with people for a while, you start to not pay attention to their emails.
You think you may have told everybody, in our examples, like, “We’ve got a web maintenance program. We’ve got new video editing.” How many times did we go, “You guys are doing that on video and audiograms now?” I’m like, “How did we not get that through to you?” It happens every day. Someone’s like, “I can stop paying a third party. I can do it with you.” Yes. A new business can come from that and then new types of referrals. Now we’re getting more video casters than we were getting podcasters. When your business model changes, it’s time to touch base with that community.
It’s a good lesson, in general, to stay in touch with your clients, foster a community and cross-pollinating all of them. People see each other here, either live on Facebook or see each other live in a webinar. There are a lot of potentials there.
We got through our 21 different things and different key factors. I want to go over, you’ve got referrals now. That’s the big thing. This is what I see happen often. You get referrals and people don’t follow up promptly in that. Things happen and they happen to send their referral on Saturday and Sunday and your family is at a family wedding and you didn’t get it. As soon as you do get back, you respond quickly. You thank them politely. You make the client who referred them look good and it was not anything reflection on them. You take all that on yourself if you didn’t reach out properly. You turn it into a positive and you make sure that you do this in a prompt and timely manner. What I like to do is if I see referrals come through and I don’t usually like to do a lot of email on a Sunday or something when I’m with the kids.
I might go through, if I see a referral, especially from a client I know, or someone in my network who has value to me, I will respond immediately and say, “Thank you so much for the referral. I will get back to you Monday morning with all of my links. I look forward to talking with you.” Just leave it at that short sweet thing where I can’t fully reply, but I can give them at least that. You do that well, Tom. You’re great at your follow up and prompt because you don’t want to make our clients who are referring and putting themselves on the line for us look bad and also lack of prompt response is not a sign of good service either.
Here’s the good news that I want to share with you is I will get 4 or 5 referrals literally daily and even on the weekends. It kills me if I let a referral go too long before I respond or hopefully not, but if I were to ever forget one or miss one, or if I forget to check my junk email folder, I’ve had to get good about checking that daily. Once in a while, my email system, somebody sends a referral, whether they’re an email address, copied on it and somehow the system thinks it might be junk mail. You’ve got to stay on top of all of these things. I’m not going to presume what’s going to work for everybody because organizational logistics are different for everybody and what works for them. You’ve got to have a way to stay on top of these referrals. Hopefully, I have a CRM and a way of making sure you follow up promptly. It’s huge. It’s critical to the business. We would not be where we are now without not only referrals but prompt follow up, and I mean like the same day.
Can you talk about the languaging and messaging, making it not about you and about them?
I cringe when I get these and a lot of times they’re cold calls, sometimes it might be a company we have done business before. I get these sales emails that are worded in a way that makes it sound like this company knows what I need in my business. I’m like, “How do you know what I need? You’d never even talked to me.” I get put off by those. I usually immediately delete those emails. It’s not worth my time. When I get a message that’s more empathetic about what I need or when I’m sending a message to a new person, I’m usually saying, “Somebody’s thinking about starting a podcast. I would love to learn about the message you want to bring to the world,” or “I would love to learn about your goals for your business as it relates to podcasting and getting your message out.”
We don’t say, “We have all these services and look here they are.”
I would love to share how we can support you but hear about that. Not say, “Share what we can sell you or share what you need.” It was like, “Share how we can provide you support.” You want the language to be about them and not about you. In the simplest sense, that’s huge.
The one last thing I want to mention is when you’re on the other side of the referral. In other words, I get authors. I get people out there who asked me to refer them to top podcasters, to be guests on their show. I will tap into my network because our relationship is valuable. Maybe the PR firm relationship is valuable and I would go in there and this has happened to me multiple times with some big authors. They will go out there and I’ll introduce them to the host of a show, I make that behind the scenes introduction that’s not that easy to make, and then crickets.
The author doesn’t tap on that when the host says, “Here’s my link, book on my calendar,” or “Let’s have a pre-call,” nothing, no response. When you are in that process of referral, if it’s not right for you or right for you at that moment, and the person who made the referral jumped the gun. Say so right there. It will go along the way, 2, 3 months later, when you touch base with me and you asked to now be on my show, I’m going to say, yes, because you didn’t blow me off the first time. Thinking about how you act on the other side of the referral is important too in this whole process. I hope you have gotten some broad look at an advanced referral thinking. This can be such a core growth process. When it’s so hard to market, when it’s so hard to network, when it’s so hard to be out there, these referrals can work to your benefit to keep your business growing and going.
It’s critical. I’m glad we did this masterclass because it’s so fundamental to our business. We have a lot of experience in it. If you have any questions reach out to us on social media and the Brandcasters group or at Feed Your Brand or at The Binge Factor, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions, but for now until the next masterclass.
The next masterclass coming up, that’s going to be on the pod to publish to audiobooks and we’re going to talk about that whole process for those aspiring and existing authors out there. That one’s coming up next.
Thank you so much, everybody. We’ll talk to you next time.
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