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Startup Strategies: Leveraging Referrals for a Stronger Foundation

New businesses often get referrals, even at the beginning, but they don’t always use them to their full advantage. Whether you’ve been in business for 20 years or you’re just starting out, here’s how to get those referrals and use them without wasting time, effort, or money.

Referral Marketing Is Less About Results and More About Feelings

Referral marketing is less about the results you deliver, and more about the way it makes people feel after the fact. Unless you have a dead-simple product that people keep coming back to purchase every month, and unless it’s Earth-shattering, people tend to forget what you’ve done for them.

All they remember is that they had a problem and now they don’t. You solved it for them, and the way in which you solved it matters – a lot.

If they associate you with a good customer service experience, they’ll remember that. If they associate you with an excellent customer service experience, they will remember and probably tell others about it.

Do Market Research Before You Get Into That Market

A lot of businesses make the mistake of not really knowing who their target market is. Spend time researching your market, developing an ideal customer persona and the types of problems they have. Then, develop a solution for that buyer persona. Once you’ve done that, you send out your message to the marketplace. If you’ve done your research, you will attract only (or mostly) that ideal buyer persona and sales will be much easier.

Start Building Your Email List Immediately

Don’t wait until the product launch. Start building your email list right now. If you use this lead management software, you can start capturing leads and following up with them about the launch of your new product or service line immediately.

A lot of businesses believe that they have to wait until they have something to sell before they start collecting names. This isn’t true. In fact, that kind of thinking stems from a “sales only” mentality.

But, before you get to sales, you have to build interest in your company – an email list, coupled with practical information about what you offer and how it solves problems, is how you do that.

Utilize Paid Marketing Channels For The First Conversions

In the beginning, you will have to rely a lot on paid ads for conversions. Google’s PPC, Yahoo, and Facebook are the big players. Bing’s ad network is also a good bet. Once you have some sales under your belt, and customers on your email list, you can ratchet your spending down a bit and start relying on customer referrals more.

Stay In Touch Via Email

You can send out newsletters or autoresponders. Just make sure you have regular communication with your target market. The second you stop communicating with them, you lose them. At the same time, you don’t want to be like that annoying person who is emailing everyday about mundane stuff.

When you do email prospects and customers, have something interesting to say – something that’s relevant to their life and the reasons they signed up to your email list in the first place.

Pamela S. Fletcher is a business coach. She enjoys sharing her insights online. Her articles appear on many business and marketing websites.