Referral marketing is THE best way to grow your small business, but what happens when you hit the referral ceiling? In this blog, A&E managing partner Jill helps business owners facing a natural growth slow down, by pinpointing the steps to take when word of mouth is no-longer enough
Referral marketing rocks, but it’ll only ever get you so far…
The thing I love to do most is work with business owners who’ve reached their referral marketing ceiling. You know, the point at which an existing network becomes too small to deliver the number of new leads required to grow.
At this point what’s needed is a realignment of the sales and marketing process. A shift from reliance on word of mouth and recommendation, to pro-active prospecting. Time must be spent –
- developing a list of target customers
- clarifying the reasons to prioritise them
- identifying common characteristics
- and pinpointing the multiple key decision makers in the buying process.
Often this process is born out of frustration. Frustration that growth has been steadily climbing, and then suddenly slows.
For most business owners the reason for this slow down can be hard to pinpoint. But, in my experience, it’s almost always that they’ve simply outgrown referral marketing and haven’t put any plans in place (yet) to reach a new, bigger, audience.
Just the other day I was chatting with a business owner when he shared some honest regrets. He said he felt frustrated because his business growth had slowed. That he’d relied on repeat business for too long. That he had got complacent, hadn’t ‘marketed’ and was missing out on opportunities as a result.
Switching up a gear from referral marketing to running wider marketing campaigns can seem intimidating, especially if you don’t have vast amounts of customer data or sophisticated in-house analytics. However, it doesn’t have to be.
The smart move is always to take what works and amplify it. In the case of a business built on word of mouth and referrals this means that social media is often the natural first step.
Through social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook you’ll be able to access most of the insight that you need to start prioritising accounts, identifying the key people to target and delivering personalised content at scale. As your marketing campaign develops, you’ll be able to learn lessons, track what works, and bolt on additional tools that you can use. It all starts with building strong foundations – and recognising that in order to grow your business, you’ll have to grow your audience first.
Peer-to-Peer Feedback: powerful ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising. Read our blog >>
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