Marketing Ideas Small Business Owners Can Use to Get More Referrals

Many professionals and small business owners want more referrals. They know referrals are a big part of their marketing strategy.   However, many people are reluctant to ask for referrals. It makes them feel needy, greedy or pushy.  But it doesn’t have to be that way!

What is the number one question people ask you?  It doesn’t matter what you do for a living.  The question is always the same.  Ready?  It is:  “How are you?” 
 
If you are like just about everyone, your answer is always the same: “Fine.”  That is a dead-end street.  Next time, use that as an opportunity to talk about your business. 

 
Try something like: 
 
“I’m great.  I’m working with a new client who (describe your client).  I’m helping him by (fill in what you are doing to help that client).  I really like working with people like that because (say why).”
 
Now here’s the important part. Ask for a referral.
 
“Do you know anyone who (describe your client again)?  If you do, let me know.  I’d love to help them, too.”
 
Need an example?   
 
Here’s something an accountant might say.
 
“I am great.  I am working with a client who wants to retire and sell her business in a few years.  I’m helping her get her finances order now, so she’ll be in good shape when she is ready to sell.  I like this type of project because I know with my help, she’s going to get a lot more money when she does sell her business.  Do you know any business owners who are nearing retirement age?  If you do, send them my way.  I’ll be happy to review their books and see if there are areas that need updating.”
 
Need another example? Here is something a restaurant owner could say.
 
“I am great! I just introduced a new menu. It has some heart-healthy entrees on it and my customers love it! I like providing food that tastes fabulous and is good for my customers, too. It makes me feel like I am really taking care of them. Do you know anyone who is interested in improving their eating habits? If you do, send them my way. Be sure they tell me they know you. I will be happy to give them extra-special treatment.”

 
With a little modification, you can also use this type of message in written communication (seasonal cards, e-mails, etc.) to your contacts. 
 
Give it a try!  You’ll soon find getting more referrals is a lot easier than you thought.

Starting a Small Business: Dreaming

There are many phases to starting your own small business. Lots of steps to go through to get from that initial idea to a fully functioning business. My husband and I are just beginning this journey, and as we do so, I want to walk you through the steps we are taking based on the advice and insight we’ve received from successful entrepreneurs and my years of business marketing experience.

Phase one is at once simple. Almost like taking a breath it can come unexpectedly and give you everything you need to dive into the depths of a new adventure. It is simultaneously complex. Just like breathing, if you stop to think about it too much, you may just freeze up and forget how to get started.

Jon Acuff talks about a rule he and his wife have. He is allowed to talk through his dreams and she just listens. No questions of how or the cost from her planning brain, and no spontaneous purchases from him during this “Wow” time. When I first heard this concept, I knew it was perfect. For every dreamer out there, they probably have a close relationship with a planner. Spouse, friend, business partner, whoever that person is for you, this safe atmosphere to dream is a must.

As you start dreaming about your small business idea, find someone you can safely dream with, maybe several people even. Jot down your ideas or have your phone take a voice memo. Just keep thinking of things you enjoy, things you are passionate about, things you think will make a difference or that need changed.

Truth be told, you may not even realize you have a small business idea during the dreaming phase. You may just be dissatisfied with your job or you may have a frustration that you see a solution to that no one has thought of. While the first phase of starting a small business is dreaming, often this phase will be over before you realize you do want to start a small business.

But even if you have already begun your business or if you a veteran business owner, you should always be dreaming. It is in the creativity of imagination that we continue to grow and find new avenues for enjoyment and even profit.

The dreaming phase may be the beginning, but it should also flow throughout the life of your small business. In our family, my husband is the dreamer. He has tossed out a lot of ideas brainstorming about his goals. He has finally settled on one that is a great starting point, meets a real need, and has a low starting overhead. This dream is one that we can both latch onto, and in the coming months, I will share our journey in launching our very own small business.

Innovation on a Small Business Man’s Budget

One of the biggest advantages of small business is that they can move at lightning speed, but only if they realize that. Many small businesses throw away this advantage and hesitate due to the risks that they perceive. Some of these risks maybe real, but often they are merely fear (F-E-A-R = False Expectations Appearing Real).

What small businesses may not comprehend is that they can quickly recover from a mistake and move on, taking what they have learned with them, thus, doubling their chances for success next time they try something similar.

It is this type of tinkering with their business models, products, services and marketing that often allows them to “get lucky.” (Luck = when opportunity meets preparedness). A small business that tries new things and is constantly innovating will find themselves able to adapt quickly when a customer requests something out of the ordinary.

This is because each time they try new things they learn their limits, abilities and of new possibilities as well. Small businesses have a huge advantage, because they are agile and without bureaucracy, thus, they can easily outpace their corporate competitors in their niches.

In fact, it is usually the small businesses that do most of the innovation and the corporations that buy these ideas, small businesses or copy what they are doing. Why do they steal and copy ideas? Well, because they work.

A smart corporation will try to be innovative and to their credit they do come up with some cool innovations in the market place, but certainly not the majority of the ideas or concepts, especially the ones that really change the industry. So, please consider this.