Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

Yes, that’s a cliché, but it’s also true: when you need a plumber, a kitchen fitter or a haircut what do you do first? Most of us ask around our friends and family. We only turn to the yellow page or Google searches as a last resort.

What is a referral?
A referral is simply a word of mouth recommendation from one of your satisfied customers to another person. Often this will happen naturally when they are asked to make a recommendation. But there is nothing wrong with asking for a referral. Referrals can also be as simple as passing on a handful of business cards to a satisfied customer or asking them to share their experiences with your company on Facebook, or Google.

Why not ask for referrals?
It doesn’t hurt to ask people to pass on your details to their friends and family. People who have been referred by someone they trust are far more likely to use your services than a company they have never heard of.

How to ask for a referral
You don’t have to feel like a used car salesman when you ask for referrals. You could try:

Having a referral program:
You may wish to offer an incentive to existing customers when they recommend you to their friends. Don’t do this in isolation, though. It works best when you combine referral programmes with other methods.

Joining a business networking group:
Business networking groups rely on members in specific industries referring customers to one another. It reduces competition between themselves and encourages word of mouth advertising.

Thank your customers
When business is concluded, make a phone call, email, or send a note to say thank you. Expressing your appreciation is a personal touch that encourages people to refer you. It also reminds them why your company is special.

Give them a nudge
It can be a risk when you recommend someone to a friend - what if they don’t have as good an experience as you did? You can use a little ‘nudge theory’ to inspire confidence by letting clients know that 75% (or some other significant proportion) of your business stems from repeat customers.

Give a referral.
Another great way to get referrals is to give them yourself. When you share your positive experiences with your suppliers and partners, then they are more likely to do the same.

In a nutshell, you’ll get more referrals if you ask for them. Whenever you reach the end of a project with, why not simply ask your client if they know anyone else who would benefit from your work?

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Steve Elliott

Owner | Proprietor at ThriftySites
Getting to know about you and your business is an integral part of any successful project – and you’re part of that process. No two firms are the same and frankly, the person who knows best about your business is you. That’s why we work in partnership with clients. We want you to be successful online and we need you to tell your friends and business contacts how great the experience has been for you. Because that’s how we get 90% of new clients, by word of mouth and referral.

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