Your Best Source Of Referrals

January 9, 2012 by John Stiernberg

DO YOU MAKE IT EASY FOR CLIENTS TO RECOMMEND YOU ONLINE?

In the July 2010 issue of Mobile Beat, we talked about generating referrals, and making sure that you and your mobile entertainment business are referable.

The fundamentals haven’t changed:

1) Show up on time,

2) do what you say you are going to do,

3) finish what you start, and

4) say “please” and “thank you.”
Doing those things consistently make you referable, but do not necessarily assure that your clients will refer you. What do you need to do to generate referrals? Will past clients take initiative? Are you optimizing online tools? This article addresses these issues and recommends three action tips for success.

WHY REFERRALS ANYWAY?

You know the expression, “The best advertising is word of mouth.” When someone says good things about you, they are providing “third-party credibility.” It’s not you bragging or paying for promotion. Instead, a happy client recommends
your service. Prospective clients are far more comfortable approaching and hiring someone that one of their peers has
hired successfully. Peer groups are not limited to people who know each other. They can be “friends and followers” in
the 21st-century sense. The relevance of this is at the heart of social media today. Your peers have more street cred than the business that is offering virtually anything for sale. That applies to reviewing and sourcing services (like mobile entertainment) in addition to goods. So why work at generating referrals? Because they eliminate (or at least minimize) cold call selling. Say that a couple is getting married and needs to hire a DJ. You hear about it or see the engagement announcement in your local media. You could contact them directly, introduce yourself, and ask if you could meet with them to discuss their wedding entertainment plans. Or, you can seed the market with referral sources so that the couple or their wedding planner is aware of your good work and calls you. That ringing phone (or text or e-mail) is a beautiful thing!

PUT YOURSELF IN THE CLIENT?S PLACE

Want to go out for dinner and you’re eager to try a new place? It’s possible that you would ask friends, co-workers, or family for a recommendation before you would Google “restaurants” and take a chance.
But sometimes it isn’t practical to make phone calls or chat with trusted advisors. In those circumstances,
the next best thing is to check out reviews online. Angie’s List, Google Reviews, YouTube, and Facebook (among many others) all feature reviews of virtually everything. The level of detail ranges from the simple thumbs up “Likes” to lengthy reviews or blog entries with plenty of details. There are two levels of client involvement in terms of driving referrals to you.

Passive. The client agrees to be a reference when you ask them. They will say good things about you if anyone contacts them, but they don’t otherwise take action.

Active. The client agrees to post a positive review on your website or Facebook page. There are degrees of this. For example, they may simply click a like button or post multiple positive reviews and encourages their friends, family, and co-workers to hire you. This is active promotion vs. waiting for someone to contact them.
HOW TO HELP YOUR CLIENTS PROMOTE YOU
Why would a happy client refer actively vs. passively? It boils down to asking them for their help. Here are three suggestions for how to make it easy for your clients to promote you.

Action Tip 1. Set up your website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile, and any other online
outlet with places where clients can easily talk about you. This means making your website interactive, which may cost
a little time and money, but is worth it.

Action Tip 2. Contact your past clients and invite them to post reviews. They won’t necessarily know about it
until you tell them, so take the time to reach out. E-mail blasts and Twitter tweets may get a few random replies. Personal phone calls yield two things:

1) a higher positive response rate and

2) the opportunity to ask them if they know anyone planning an event.

Action Tip 3: Send a thank you note to everyone that posts (referability skill #4 say “please” and “thank you”). Wow, those fans will become your diehard advocates when you simply say “thanks.”
And if for any reason a client refuses to cooperate or posts a bad review, you are immediately presented with the opportunity to do preemptive damage control (hope that doesn’t happen!).

HERE’S THE POINT!

Passive references are better than nothing, but active referral sources and online buzz are competitive advantages. While you need to work at it, there is a big payoff: more gigs and more happy clients. Be sure to implement the Action Tips in sequence:

1) set up your online tools,

2) invite past clients to post reviews, and

3) thank them for their efforts.

Next time we’ll switch gears and talk about using your sound and lighting rig as a competitive tool.In the meantime, best wishes for success in mobile entertainment in 2012! MB

John Stiernberg is founder of Stiernberg Consulting (www.stiernberg.com). His book Succeeding In Music: Business Chops for Performers and Songwriters is published by Hal Leonard Books. Contact John via e-mail at john@stiernberg.
com. You can find John on LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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John Stiernberg John Stiernberg (16 Posts)

John Stiernberg is the founder of Stiernberg Consulting (www.stiernberg.com), the premier business development consultancy serving the entertainment technology and music products industry. With over 25 years experience in these fields, he currently works with audio and music companies on strategic planning and market development. His book Succeeding In Music: Business Chops for Performers and Songwriters is published by Hal Leonard Books. Contact John via e-mail at john@stiernberg.com, find him on LinkedIn and Facebook, and follow him at http://twitter.com/JohnStiernberg.


Filed Under: Business, Issue #140, Sales & Marketing