Word of Mouth Marketing example.

More than Word of Mouth

How are YOUR Referral Systems?

Every struggling financial advisor says the same thing…

“I get all my clients from word of mouth”

In this case, word of mouth really means in most cases is they are not doing any effective marketing outside of hoping for referrals or, perhaps occasionally asking for them.

Of course, getting a flood of qualified and pre-sold referrals is ideal for your business, ideal for any business.   However, sitting around and waiting for clients to send you their friends isn’t a strategy.   Just asking your clients “who do you know that might need me?” isn’t very effective even when done well.  Done poorly it can make you look needy even desperate.   Nothing is less attractive than desperation.  

What will make you great is having multiple (a Parthenon of) referral systems to create a frictionless feeder for referrals.  A series of strategically planned methodologies for sparking referrals.

The Worst Thing To Do

The worst thing you can do is sit back and hope things happen on their own. Crossing your fingers is not exactly the most efficient or sustainable way to do business. It means you are taking your likelihood of success out of your own control.

Of course, sitting back and letting things happen can result in some referrals. If you have been doing a good job, past clients may tell their friends and family about you.   When working with new advisors or ones with a relatively small client base, I tend to suggest that they grow their business primarily in other ways until they hit what I think of as “critical mass.”

At 100 or so quality clients you can begin implementing a number of systems that will effectively begin feeding you a regular stream of referred clients.  Much below that it’s tough to get much volume from that source.   And, if you are building a new practice or, growing a small practice to a large one referrals alone don’t help you scale it up very quickly.

Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably.

Michael Gerber

What do I mean by “Referral Systems?”

Well, the first part of that is to have replicable processes in place that can happen over and over again.   Processes that can be automated.  Processes that can be accomplished through staff.  Processes that you incorporate into your regular meetings and other conversations with clients in the same way each time.

What works to create regular referrals?

What doesn’t work is expecting your clients to be great at “pitching” your services.  For most firms that I work with, the vast majority of their staff are pretty lousy at whatever their “elevator pitch” should be for their company and services.   To be fair most of them have never been taught a simple explanation.  Certainly they haven’t been required to memorize it and role play it until perfect.  However,  if your assistant or some other staff member (perhaps even you) isn’t great at simply explaining what you do In an attractive way for new clients, to someone they meet in line at Starbucks, or to a college friend over lunch imagine how poorly your typical client would be at it.

Let’s categorize what definitely works to stir up prospects.

  1. Hosting valuable and fun events that clients are excited to invite their friends to attend with them.
  2. Creating communications processes so that you are regularly “top of mind” with your prospects.
  3. Creating “pass-a-long” tools that your clients can gift to their friends.
Here are some more specific ways to help your clients send you their friends.
  1. Have clear scripting in place to help clients  “isolate faces.”  Where you help bring to mind qualified friends, family members, and associates who may benefit from your services.
  2. Educate  your clients about the range of problems you are able to solve within your firm.   They are likely only aware of what you helped them with directly.  They must be educated directly about your myriad of skills and capabilities if they are to think of friends and associates for whom you may be a good fit.
  3. Author a book, or series of books that your clients can pass along to their friends.
  4. Have a myriad of “pass-along” tools that your clients can share with friends and associates in addition to a book.   These  pass-long tools can be a series of reports on specific subjects or other tools such as CD’s, DVD’s, Thumb drives with valuable information and specific subjects.
  5. Have social events for clients to invite their friends to attend with them. 
  6. Have regular learning events live via zoom or in person that clients can invite their friends and associates to attend (or, create “fake live” events that they are invited to attend ie “Evergreen Webinars.”)
  7. Create a podcast, YouTube channel or other “on-demand” educational resource for your clients that they are invited to share with friends and family.
  8. Create communications systems to maintain “Top of Mind” awareness with your clients and prospects all through the year (see below.)
  9. Create a clear path for clients to move their friends to an initial consultation to share with their friends. That clear path can be a dedicated webpage with an easy to remember URL that they can share with their friends.  For instance VIPmeetwithJoe.com That page might include scheduling links to put a meeting on your calendar and free information to download along with an introductory video. You might also create a “concierge” phone line exclusively for your clients or some other simple and exclusive path to connect with you and gain free educational materials.