by Tony Vidler
Getting more referrals is a bit of a Holy Grail for most advisers. Referrals are gold and we all know that, yet it seems so hard for so many professionals to create consistent and constant referral business.
We know that referrals remain the most powerful marketing despite the plethora of advertising and marketing tactics available today. The “transfer of trust” which is created by positive endorsement and personalised introduction or recommendation results in he highest likelihood of a prospective client choosing to do business with you. Knowing all that, and despite the efforts that many advisers make to get more referrals, very few advisers get enough referrals to support their business objectives.
Why? The short answer is “they don’t talk about it enough“.
“Enough” is the key word there.
To create awareness we need to use repetition. That is constant and consistent positioning and messaging creates awareness.
The issue usually is not that our clients do not want to refer, or are reluctant to. It is simply that they do not think of it. They do not think of it because they are people who are busy with the minutae of their own lives, so our business objectives are not exactly “top of mind” for them. That is often compounded by clients seeing us as busy people who have more than enough on our plates…perhaps not even having enough time or capacity to take on more clients. We inadvertently reinforce that perception by being ad hoc and casual in our positioning and messaging around word-of-mouth marketing and referrals – almost casual and off-handed about it perhaps – so it becomes even less significant to the average client. If we are casual and intermittent in in raising a topic then it makes sense that the clients will be too, doesn’t it?
Creating ongoing awareness through ongoing conversation is what creates the awareness. That does not mean “constantly begging for a name and phone number” though, as that is crude and awkward for clients, and it is embarrassing for most professionals too if we are honest. Obtaining a phone number and permission to use an introducers name is not really the objective today I would suggest. Instead the objective is to create awareness and alertness.
What we do need to do is:
This has to be embedded in our client communication processes. It needs to be a part of our regular service correspondence. It needs to be part of our marketing, wherever and however we do marketing. It needs to be a part of our advice process in any given client engagement. It needs to be a part of our culture…all of our people inside the business need to be aware of and carrying the message if we want our clients to become aware.
Repetition creates top-of-mind-awareness, and it is that awareness which creates a level of alertness in our clients minds which leads to constant positive introductions to prospective new clients.
Repetition is the missing element for practitioners who only receive referrals and recommendations on an ad hoc basis. If you position for referrals on a casual basis, and only mention it in passing every so often, then you will get intermittent results. Being clear in your positioning and messaging and delivering them constantly and consistently – with repetition – are the ingredients for creating the awareness and the alertness that will produce more consistent results.