Tools for referral systems

Tools for Referral Systems

Good Referral Systems and Communication Strategies need good tools. 

Audio/Video Packages that get shared and create clients.

Many years ago I spent a considerable amount of time and money creating an Infomercial that ran every week on network TV in the Denver metro area.  It was a great source of new clients.  However, one day I had the idea to burn it on to custom printed VHS tapes, with a printed sleeve, and with a free consultation certificate included into a nice package.  

As time went on that video with several updates and then a completely new version ended up being used in several formats.

Business Card Version:   business card sized CD Roms printed with contact information and, live links to an opt-in page embedded in the video.   The more recent version was printed on a flash—drive business card.

Complete Package:   a robust package with color brochure, CD, DVD and other materials printed by a company that printed materials for major music groups, and ultimately including thumb drive in the package as well.

To receive a copy of several examples of this opt-in to my free offer.

Free Reports or, White Papers

I’ve found narrow topic reports work the best.  The topics can vary for instance one on 401(K) roll-overs, one on your area’s largest employers retirement plan, one on college planning, another on current events and how they affect retirement planning, another on estate issues well you get the idea. 

A report that’s anywhere from a couple of pages to 12 or 15 pages can be shared both via PDF and blog post but also through printed copies.   Send several copies of your most recent report (even if you recycle them in rotation) and you have both a credibility building tool but a wonderful pass-along tool for your clients to share.

Even business cards don’t have to be boring.

Yet another aside.   I know that the world has gone digital.   You’re tempted to create a report, book, or whatever and then just email the PDF.   That’s a huge mistake.   Certainly once you have any content whether it be video, audio, or written it can be shared in a variety of ways online – however, printing in physical form and mailing 3 or 5 copies to each client is much more likely to get attention.   Resist being cheapAlways focus on effectiveness.   To give another example I was having a friendly argument with a close friend who’d written a series of books targeting “C-Suite” executives in various Fortune 500 companies.   He argued that those companies were “Paper Free” and, that sharing the books to be consumed via IPad or Kindle was their preferred method of consumption.

I argued (correctly) that far more people (especially in the over 50 year old crowd) read physical books not ebooks.   However, given that most of them wouldn’t be read at all what’s even more important is that an EBook’s not going to lay around on their desk.  It’s not going to become a drink coaster (as I have on my desk,) it’s not going to get thrown in the brief case for follow-up later.   Personally, I’m an Ebook reader.   More specifically I always have my Kindle with me as well as the Kindle app on my IPad and IPhones.   I more or less read 60 or so books a year on my Kindle.   However, of the 768 books on my Kindle there are a bunch that I bought and forgot that they existed.  None will hang around and nag me to follow-up with the author.  Same’s true of that PDF download of your free report.   There’s probably 100 of them on my hard drive, never to be seen again.

Create live Events that Clients are Excited to Invited their Friends to Attend

Over the years, the most reliable way that I’ve found to help clients refer their friends is by creating live events that they are comfortable inviting their friends to attend.  They don’t have to pitch your service.  They don’t have to worry much about feeling like they are pushing a service.   All they have to do is say, my Financial Advisor is having a special event about “__________,” thought you might like to join me.

There are several type of events that work well.

First.   A celebration for one client.   One type of event which may not be as common but, I’ve done many times with great success is an event to honor one client or a small number where they invite many friends. Think hosting a birthday, job change celebration, retirement party, or other celebration where they invite 20, 30 or more friends.  It’s unique and gets you in front of a lot of prospects.  

This works well.   I’ll get the invite list from the client (or, their wife, husband, boss, etc) and then send the party/celebration invites directly.   We’ll mail to them all and then do something online as well “e-vite” or similar.

Second.   Educational Events for Clients and Friends.   These may be live in-person or on-line.   The wider and wider of a geographical range that you cover (for instance all over the United States) then obviously the more you are going to gravitate towards online events rather than in-person events designed as “buddy” events.   These work well and as I describe in the next chapter there are very clear processes for turning attendees into prospects.

Third.  “Client Appreciation” events.  Designed to be primarily social events that clients invite their friends to join them in attending.  An extreme example of this is an advisor who each year hosted his own birthday party.   If was massively promoted and turned into a HUGE event (100’s if not 1,000’s attended eventually.)   It grew into such an exciting event that basically 100% of the new business that he wrote each year (and, it was A LOT) came from this annual event.

Live Events Make a Personal Connection

As I said before, meetings and events are a great way to inject your face, voice, and personality into your business. People associate with you relate to you and hopefully, like you.  Avoid the temptation to always look for an outside expert with a technical presentation.  The important thing is that you lightly cover a topic in an interesting way that engages the attendees.

There is a distinct advantage to having online meetings where people are urged to bring their friends – you are selling yourself directly to people. Relying on your clients to effectively sell you to their friends is a fool’s errand. They are not in your line of work, they are likely not salespeople and they will not be able to sell you as well as you can sell yourself.

Holding a meeting or event on an interesting topic really is low hanging fruit.  Look for an interesting topic that will convince your clients to ask their friends to come along. If there is something going on in the news it is always a good idea to use that to your advantage.  The more you “get inside what’s currently going on in their mind” the more likely they are to both attend and invite their friends.

For in-person events try to choose interesting or unique locations. Holding a meeting in a dusty and stuffy office is a pretty hard sell, even if the topic is interesting. But holding a meeting in a winery or an art gallery is both an interesting event and a great day out. If you ask someone to bring their friends to a winery or gallery, they are a lot more likely to do just that.

I have hosted meetings for my consulting clients at United States Naval Academy, at Disney World and Disney University, at the United States Military Academy, at the Boat Show in Ft. Lauderdale overlooking the Yachts,  the haunted hotel from the movie the Shining (The Stanley in Estes Park) and many other interesting venues.   You’re looking for an interesting hook to interest both clients and their friends.   

I’ve also from time to time lined up celebrity guests ranging from business authors and speakers such as Dan Kennedy, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins and our own Lee Milteer to Chuck Norris, former star athletes, the Denver Bronco Cheerleads and the former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.    Celebrity is always a great draw.

You can do the same type of thing with both virtual meetings as well as in-person meetings.

Live Events Must Have RSVPs.

As a brief aside, regarding all live events.  You must have in place “RSVP” tools for all guests.   In EVERY event that I’ve ever hosted or structured for clients we’ve had an effective “lead generation” mechanism in place.   For an online meeting that’s a “landing page” that requires registration and captures name, email, phone, mailing address and other “demographic” qualifying information.  For a live event is a required RSVP form combined with a  greeter at the entry that collects information and schedules follow-up meetings with all new prospects.