Those of you that know me and work with me know I value good marketing as a key part of running any business. You can be the best at what you do, be able to save clients millions of pounds or have invented the greatest thing since the bread slicing machine, but if you do not tell people about it how can you ever expect to grow a business from it?
It’s interesting what constitutes ‘marketing’ these days and as the years go by I understand how broad and deep it is as a concept. Underpinning any outbound marketing activity however, must be the delivery of a quality service/product. Just being good at what you do, keeping your promises, providing value for money and looking after your clients is probably the most fundamental part of any marketing.
Yes, there is a bit of chicken and egg about this – you of course need to win clients before they can enjoy the quality of your service – but good customer service and product quality should be your biggest priority from client one. Why? Well there is the old adage that it is far easier (and cheaper) to keep a client than have to go and find another but each client is also a marketing opportunity as a referrer. If they are impressed by their experience with you, they might recommend you or introduce you to a friend or colleague.
Whilst I happily invest in my own marketing and enjoy a steady stream of new business from it, I am very proud to say that referrals remain my single biggest source of new clients. One day in October heralded three referrals, two from existing clients and one from my former childminders’ daughter. Given that my children are now all grown up this latter referral really introduced a sense of pride and confirmation for me that having a good reputation in business is worth its weight in gold and can remain in people’s mind for some time.
The added benefit of good customer service for me is the fact I enjoy what I do and feel fulfilled by doing a good job, so it’s not hard work in my eyes. But even still, the secondary endorsement that a referral provides is incredibly satisfying. I take the fact that my clients pay my bills each month as the main source of client satisfaction but when those busy business owners take time out of their day to recommend me, that’s special.
So, fostering referrals ticks a number of boxes – marketing, customer service and reassurance that you are doing the right thing!