Today I got the unique opportunity, at least unique for me, to listen to a well-known, award winning author speak on a topic relevant to every business and that very few actually proactively use.  Getting the chance to hear John Jantsch, who is known as a marketing and digital technology coach, talk about his book, “The Referral Engine,” taught me the impact of putting forth a lot of effort on simple tasks that make a huge difference.  As he explained the background for his book he mentioned when he surveyed 100 business, more than 70% said that referrals where one of the biggest reasons they were successful, but less than 17% of those, said that they had an automated system for getting, maintaining, and using referrals.  His overarching question: why don’t businesses have a plan in place for doing the one thing that so many attribute their success to?

Jantsch developed his thoughts on answering this question through his book and through the speech he gave by saying that the key to referrals is finding someone with a need, and getting them to know, like and trust you.  This is how he defines marketing, and it makes sense.  To get referrals, and to have a ‘referral engine,’ he mentioned that first you have to be referable and then you need to proactively go after that and amplify it.  He developed his five realities of referrals mentioning first that that so many people are afraid to ask for referrals, which brings up the question; do you believe that you deliver value?  His point was that if you truly believe in what you do and believe that it brings value to your customers, than you’re doing them and yourself a favor by asking for a referral.

Among other points, he brings up several examples he writes about in his book about being both high tech and high touch.  You have to have a balance of both.  You need to make things easy for your customers; people like the ease of technology and the ability to go online and get it all, but, he mentions, as people increasingly use technology they also start to crave the human interaction that is gone.  Businesses need to follow-up, call, email, or talk to our customers because after all a good experience is what a good referral is all about.  It’s all about creating a proactive strategy and system for good experiences and getting that referral.  He summarizes by saying that their now exists a ‘marketing hourglass’ that tells businesses the steps to take.  It begins with his know, like, trust idea but continues with try, buy, repeat, refer.  It needs to be part of what you do to market your business.  It’s the job of the business to educate and help people be informed buyers, to show them that core difference that you have, and let them know the impact you’ve made.  Once you’ve done all of this, asking for a referral is easy and can have a huge impact.

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