Referral marketing allows your loyal customers to “sell” for you by referring others to your business - either by word of mouth or by posting a referral online. Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, getting helpful reviews and referrals is not as easy as just providing good service or a worthwhile product. The disconnect is seen in a Texas Tech University study, which revealed 83% of customers admitted they were willing to write a review or refer people to a business after a pleasant experience, yet only 29% do.
So, how do you get those customers who are willing to review and refer to do it?
Believe it or not, the chamber can be a tremendous help to your business and its referral marketing efforts. Here’s how:
First, for brevity’s sake, we’re going to assume you have something worth referring. We’re going to assume you have a good business with excellent services or products. We’ll also assume that you provide an above ordinary customer experience. People don’t write reviews on “fine.” Good is adequate but doesn’t spark enough desire in a customer to refer you.
You need to excite people by what you offer them. The best way to do this is to improve the customer experience. Provide excellent service and a welcoming atmosphere and you’ll be well on your way to your first (hundred) reviews and building a referral culture.
But you don’t want to stop there.
How the Chamber Can Help Your Business with Referrals
First, the chamber only refers chamber members. Be sure you have a business card in the vestibule at the chamber office. People really do stop by looking for a good referral.
Plus, the chamber has many active members who understand the importance of community. Being plugged into that network will bring you a handful of referrals and reviews with very little effort. Imagine what you would have if you worked at it! Try these ideas:
Host an Event
The chamber is often looking for places for events (especially for the Business Builder Networking Coffee and after-hour mixers). If you have a business with room for a few dozen people or more, this is a clever way to get active members through the doors and sampling what you have.
The chamber will often thank the venue publicly as part of the event, but ask your event coordinator to mention that reviews are as good as business and you would love for those in attendance to share their experience online. Don’t forget to mention 1-2 valuable sites for you such as Trip Advisor, Yelp, or whatever fits your business or industry.
You can also create table tents or signs with QR codes that will help people go directly to the review site. When creating a referral culture, you want to eliminate all forms of friction in order to get people to leave reviews for you.
Another terrific way to get noticed by members is by sponsoring something. Just make sure that if you’re sponsoring something to strengthen your referral marketing that there is a direct connection behind what you’re providing and what sort of business you have. For instance, a food sponsorship as a restaurant is a great idea especially if you bring tasting samples of one of your main dishes. This allows attendees to taste and review your food easily.
Business people who believe in “what goes around, comes around” do well in referral marketing. Yes, there are some industries like food and hospitality that drive people to share their experience immediately. But if your service or product is less “sexy” you need to think about building that relationship and the chamber will help you do that.
The chamber offers a lot of ways you can be helpful to the community. When you provide your time, knowledge, and/or expertise for free or with no expectations, people will begin to like you. Customers do business with people they know, like, and trust. Effective ways to do this include:
- Join the Ambassadors Committee.
- Attend Ribbon Cuttings.
- Volunteer at a Chamber event.
- Provide a door prize or raffle item for a Chamber event. Include a tag that states "Donated by XYZ Company. If you like our product, please help us with a referral on Yelp. Thank you!"
- Add your own online referrals to Chamber members' businesses you have used.
Finally, once you have the reviews coming in make sure you address each one—good and bad. People took the time to write and share them. You should acknowledge each one. Plus, others will see that you do and feel that you care. This is all part of the giving economy and will feed your referral engine.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.