Wow! Really gotta update the portfolio this week. Idea Ladder has just signed two new clients, one a landing page project for a southeast electric vehicle distributor (Current Electric Vehicles) and another huge and exciting project bringing a new anti-aging skin care line to market. Many thanks to Rob Marandino, CMO extraordinaire, for bringing us into the latter project and, as always, thanks to Ron Wilkins for sending the CEV work our way.
Which leads me to this week’s post on — you guessed it — the value of networking.
Or perhaps, better said, the value of the referral.
Or, best yet, the extended value of a happy customer.
It might surprise you to learn that, although we’re a marketing firm, we don’t actually do much of the kind of marketing we do for our clients. No PPC, no PR, no email blasts or lead generation.
The Idea Ladder website is optimized for natural search, definitely. But nearly 100% of our business comes from referrals. Or via client contacts who’ve moved on to other positions with other companies and called on us to be a part of their new team.
If I really had to, I could probably create a diagram showing that all of Idea Ladder’s business to date springs from about three original sources.
So let’s think about what that means to you.
If every customer you already have sends you three more referrals, and of those three referrals, only one becomes a new customer, how many customers do you have?
Twice as many customers, right?
The math is easy. Getting those three referrals? Perhaps not so much.
But if you think of retaining customers in the same way you think of relating to friends and family, you’ll be a lot closer to achieving it than you think.
So let’s talk about all the ways you can start to generate those referrals for your business, no matter what business you’re in:
1. Do not alienate, disregard, offend or otherwise piss off an existing customer. Take their calls, respond to complaints, deliver products when you say you will, don’t overcharge them, and every now and then give them something extra. A coupon, a discount, a free sample or a gift. If they can share these goodies easily with a friend, so much the better.
2. Create a personal relationship with every customer. Give them an account on your website and greet them by name when they visit. Learn about their families. Do they have kids? Pets? Do they like what they’ve bought from you? Are they happy with your service? Are they willing to rate these on your website or send you a testimonial? Are they on Facebook? Twitter? If they follow you, follow them back, and pay attention to what they say.
3. Stay in touch. Remember birthdays. Drop an email. Call occasionally, just to check in. But please don’t forward dumb jokes via email or otherwise fill inboxes with useless garbage.
4. Answer questions posted on Facebook or private messages on Twitter, and answer them as a person — not as a faceless corporate persona.
5. Help your customers in any way you can, but don’t give unsolicited advice. Automatic opt-ins for newsletters and offers is a big no-no. Providing a clear roadmap to all the content and products on your website is a big YES. Monitoring analytics and updating the site to make finding things easier is also a big YES.
I’d love to hear your ideas about networking with your customers … comment here!