By Bill Fukui, Director of Sales & Marketing
We all probably recognize that referrals generate the highest ROI. Yet, most practices spend almost all of their marketing dollars and resources focusing on reaching new audiences that are unfamiliar with you or your brand.
How much of your practice is built on referrals? Most professionals I speak to indicate that from 40 percent to over 80 percent of their business is driven by word of mouth. Yet they admit they spend literally nothing for it.
So why would a practice invest 100 percent of its budget on marketing that generate less than half of the business? More importantly, why wouldn’t you invest more into the area that has proven to deliver your best results?
Why You May Not Focus On Internal Marketing?
Do you have a referral marketing budget? Most practices don’t. They simply assume that word of mouth leads just happens as part of their other marketing efforts.
So why don’t you commit more to it?
Many practitioners view the quality of their results and services as proof enough and deserving of referrals. They built a reputation and referrals have historically come as a result. They assume referrals will continue to come and see no need to invest in it.
Some providers view asking for referrals as desperate and salesy. They are uncomfortable incorporating internal marketing process for fear of how it may appear to friends, contacts and customers.
And still others just don’t know what to do, how to implement an internal marketing campaign, or simply procrastinate on getting their team to execute it.
Why Is Referral Marketing So Powerful!
There are a lot of reasons why friend recommendations, referrals and word of mouth consistently rates as one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Here are some primary reasons:
- Targeted Reach
- Birds of a feather DO flock together. And people that have grown to trust you (customers, professional referral sources, vendors, etc.) know their contacts and social audiences. Your message gets spread to your most qualified audiences.
- Accelerated Reach
- Not long ago, word of mouth was just that; face to face conversations that turned into a referral. The average consumer had limited reach to contacts it saw or talked to over the phone. Today, consumer have instant reach to a continually growing online network of friends, acquaintances, contacts, business associates, relatives and more.
- Trust and Credibility
- Trust and likeability go a long way in convincing prospects to choose you. In fact, they are essential in the buying process. And nothing builds credibility and trust more immediately than a referral.
- Timing is probably the most challenging and costly element in marketing. Marketers constantly push out their messages with hopes of reaching the right person when they are “in the market” for your services. Referral and word-of-mouth exchanges promote timely exposure to prospects that communicate an interest in your service.
10 Internal Digital Marketing Tips
- Your Profiles - Update the look, information and substance of your social media profiles. Your social media plays an intricate role in maintaining contact with your online community and getting your information shared across multiple platforms. In some cases, it may be the first exposure a potential customer may have of your practice
- Don’t Be Pushy - Limit the amount of salesy promotions, offers and specials you send to your internal marketing audience. Building credibility and authority in order to earn referrals requires more than promotional exposure. In most cases, promotional outreach should be limited to no more than about 25 percent, depending on the nature of your products and services. Otherwise, you risk “turning off” your audience.
- E-Newsletters - Don’t under estimate the power of effective e-newletters. Done correctly, they can be a major element to sharing new information, updating your customers of changes in your practice, providing consumer resources and driving traffic to target pages and posts on your website. Here is a link to 20 e-newsletter tip.
- Consistency - Like all other types of marketing and advertising, it is critical to be consistent with the frequency of your outreach. Your online audiences’ memory is shorter than we would like it to be. Try to utilize strategies and technology that leverage automation and repurposing of your high quality content in your internal marketing.
- Timely Requests - Identify key times in the customer experience and your service process to ask for referrals. Timing is essential in getting more of them to agree, but it also builds internal momentum with you and your team to make sure you are requesting consistently as well.
- Easy is Essential - Make referring your practice and forwarding your messages easier. Part of this is asking at the right time, but also it is consistently reminding them of the opportunity. Make sure your posts, newsletters, and updates all have the ability to be shared with the click of a button. And one last suggestion: Take a picture at the opportune time when your customer is feeling the highest level of satisfaction with you, and be sure to email them a copy with a suggestion to share it. Again, timing is everything.
- Positive Reviews - Track, monitor and acknowledge all positive reviews. Don’t just fixate and respond to the negative ones. Nothing leaves energetic and motivated customers more let down than not recognizing their efforts. Also, keep in mind that these customers tend to be the ones that will continue to support and refer you!
- Build a Relationship - Send timely, personal notes (birthdays, holidays, events, etc.) that build rapport and connection with you and your practice. These can be in the form of e-cards or the like, and can be implemented through your CRM or affordable software platforms. Again, use automation to ensure consistency and minimize your work load.
- Expand Your Referral Reach - Don’t limit internal marketing to existing customers. Include past customers, vendors, professional referral sources, and even unclosed leads to your internal marketing database. If possible, also segment them into target groups and send messaging that can have maximum impact. But most important, keep growing your database!
- Social Media - Social media is a core element to helping you maintain awareness and share useful website information. Snippets of helpful content that link back to your website should make up about half of your social media posts. It can maintain your brand and also boost your SEO results.
Feel free to print or share this post. If implemented correctly, digital internal marketing can take your practice to a higher level with more quality referral business than you thought possible.