We all know that recommendations and referrals are the best type of new enquiry. However, they (usually) don’t happen by accident. Financial tips; an effective referral strategy takes an investment of time and money.
So, other than continuing to do the great job you are already doing, how can you increase the number of referrals?
1. Understand the ‘journey’ referrals take
The glowing praise given by your client may be enough to persuade the person seeking advice to immediately get in touch.
However, a proportion will want to do their own due diligence before getting in touch. That probably means Googling you. If what they find is positive, the chances of them getting in touch increases. Of course, the reverse is also true.
Our tendency to Google things means it’s vital you dominate the results page for brand searches (your business name, your name etc.) so you are easy to find. That means seeing:
- A clear and prominent link to your website
- Your Google My Business listing
- Links to the FCA Register
- Social media links
And so on.
Most of the traffic Google sends to your website will be on the back of brand searches. If you can’t be found (or worse; your results paint you in a negative light) you’re working with one hand tied behind your back.
Remember, you never know the referrals you never had, and the clients you potentially lost out on, because they never got in touch.
2. Develop an effective website
There’s a fair chance that a potential client, doing some basic due diligence after being recommended to you, will land on your website.
In terms of new client acquisition your website has three jobs:
- To move the right people on their journey, encouraging them to get in touch with you
- To make it clear who your services aren’t right for, so their time (and yours) isn’t wasted
- To start giving them a basic understanding of what you do, who you are, what you stand for and so on
If your website is designed with these three objectives in mind, you won’t go far wrong.
3. Confirm there’s a willingness to refer
It’s usual for existing clients to be happy to refer you on.
It’s true in the advice and planning world. As an aside, it’s true in our world too. We are immensely grateful to those people who have referred and recommended us on over the past year. Thank you! Your efforts are helping us build a business and provide opportunities for some truly talented people.
Anyway, enough of that.
We recommend conducting a client survey, including a question which asks whether your clients are happy to refer your services to people they know. This achieves several things:
- It will confirm, once and for all, that your clients are happy to refer you on
- It’ll provide some useful proof (see more of that below) that you do a great job for your clients, which can be used on your website and on other marketing. For example: “98.76% of our clients would recommend us to their friends and family.”
- It’ll act as a gentle reminder that you are taking on new clients and you are grateful for recommendations and referrals
We also recommend asking an additional question. To those who answer “yes” they would refer you on, ask when the last time was they did. You may well have a very happy group of clients, only too pleased to refer you on to their friends and family, but for some reason aren’t doing so.
That brings us to our next point…
4. Educate clients
Many of us will remember the cringeworthy techniques we were taught to collect referrals off existing clients. Thankfully, those days are long gone. However, educating existing clients that you welcome new enquiries, and explaining the type of people you would like to be referred to, is just common sense.
It doesn’t have to be overt either. A couple of minutes, in the context of an update about your business, is all it needs. Alternatively, consider sending out an annual update to explain your business objectives for the coming 12 months.
Naturally, it’s important that clients know you will carefully manage your growth, so it doesn’t impact on the service you give to them.
5. Don’t be a stranger
Increasing the frequency you ‘touch’ a client through electronic newsletters will add value while giving you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and informing clients about matters which will affect their personal finances.
These newsletters will also keep you at the forefront of their minds when they are discussing money worries, challenges and concerns with their friends and family, which might lead to more referrals.
The same is true of social media. Connect with the clients who use it (your survey can help you understand which are the most popular platforms) and distribute useful and relevant content.
6. Don’t incentivise, say thank you instead
We aren’t big fans of referral incentives; they can be perceived as a little crass and slightly desperate.
However, saying thank you for a referral is hugely important.
That might be as simple as a hand-written card. Alternatively, we all like to receive unexpected surprises in the post, so why not carefully choose a gift based on your knowledge of the client?
For efficiency, have a couple of ‘go to’ sources of gifts and arrange for them to arrive on a Friday. That means, if appropriate (many of us like a drink or two at the end of a hard week!), it can be consumed at the weekend. Remember to avoid sending it to their home address; you want to say thank you, not burden them with a trip to the local parcel depot!
Having it arrive in the office might also spark a few conversations among work colleagues, which could lead to even more referrals.
7. Consider client events
A well run, interesting and engaging client event will tick several boxes.
Firstly, it can be used as thank you to existing clients and allow you to deepen existing relationships.
Secondly, a carefully chosen and engaging speaker will add value.
Finally, if you ask clients to bring a friend, it will naturally start conversations which may lead to longer-term relationships.
8. Last, but by no means least, provide proof
A potential client that has been referred will have no doubt heard how great a job you do. Now it’s time to prove it to them.
Hearing good things about you is one thing, seeing tangible examples is another completely.
Away from your website, the proof could take the form of reviews on VouchedFor, Facebook, Google or Trustpilot.
Financial tips for your site can take several forms:
- Video case studies with your clients explaining what you did for them and how they benefited (the natural reaction of many advisers and planners is to assume clients won’t be prepared to appear on film. Our advice is to ask, you might be surprised by the answer)
- Written case studies using real-life examples accompanied by a picture of the featured client
- Attributable testimonials, preferably accompanied by a picture of the client
- Anonymous case studies or testimonials; these aren’t as effective but still have value
- A feed of reviews from VouchedFor etc
Word of mouth
There’s little doubt how powerful it can be. Knowing how to encourage it can attract engaged, suitable clients that have not only heard good things about you, but will, in turn, be likely to say some pretty great things themselves.
So, how well equipped are you to harness the power of a good referral? Providing financial tips and valuable advice is down to you, but we can definitely help with ensuring that your online presence and brand image is doing your business proud.