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Just like you, our best source of new business comes from word of mouth recommendations.

We get that flutter of excitement, whenever an email lands in our inbox containing those 5 delightful words: “I’ve just recommended you to….”

Guaranteed I’ll be Googling this potential new client instantly, but when that’s done, the second job I’ll do is to thank the person who referred us.

For us, there is a hardcore crew of people, comprised of former clients or colleagues, and niche experts we’ve worked with on projects, who really understand our business, and the benefits we deliver to our clients (i.e: getting crystal clear on your marketing strategy, having someone to jumpstart the delivery of that marketing strategy, fix anything that’s broken or working badly, and build a virtual team of subject experts for ongoing support, in case you needed a reminder!). These wonderful people regularly refer us to business-owning friends of theirs or new contacts they meet on their travels (or rather, met via Zoom at the moment). 

As soon as I’ve Googled, and said thank you, the third thing I do is to add the referral to our client management system Dubsado. Are you using a system to record incoming leads? It might be a full CRM system (Customer Relationship Management e.g. HubSpot ) or it could just be a spreadsheet. Getting an all-singing, all-dancing CRM system is on our wishlist, but we haven’t found our one true love CRM system yet (we’ve looked, BOY have we looked, but no joy – do comment below to share a recommendation!)

For me, organising marketing systems is a huge source of joy, but I have a good enough level of awareness to realise that not everybody geeks out over this; it may not be your favourite task. Today, however, I am here to convince you that using a method to track these referrals is critical to your business, AND worth the bother.

Now I’m going to let you in on a secret. (It’s not really a secret, it’s actually just a fact. One that I’m sure you already know. I’m calling it a secret to ramp up the drama 😉). 

Here it is: not all referrals are good for your business.

Okay, so now that’s out there. Phew. It was kind of hard to write because I KNOW that some of our amazing referrers will be reading this blog post right now, and I don’t want to seem at all ungrateful.

So, back to the point. We may feel that little tingle of excitement in our belly with almost every referral we receive because it reminds us that we are doing a good job for our clients. They love us enough to rave about us! Getting this confirmation is highly seductive. And yet, some of these referrals are, unfortunately, going to be just a waste of your precious time, because they simply aren’t the type of client that you want to work with.

This is why it’s important to keep a record. When you only have anecdotal information, it’s easy to don your rosy-tinted specs, as you reflect happily on that one particular individual who has sung about your business from the rooftops and delivered boatloads of word of mouth referrals, when in reality a surprisingly low number of them have converted to clients. And, it’s this reality that can’t be denied when you clock it in the system. The good news is, having that information allows you to course-correct.

Our ‘opportunities’ tracker exists to keep track of where we get the most business, but it also provides the answers to lots of questions. Questions that help us to plan our future marketing strategy. Here are some of the questions it answers for us:

  • Which marketing activity brought us the most leads this year?
  • Which marketing activity brought us the most converted clients this year?
  • Which marketing activity was the biggest source of revenue for us this year? (Because not all clients deliver the same value to your business)
  • Which marketing activity delivered the most profitable clients to us this year? (Hint, this is the one you want to invest more in next year).
  • Of all of our word of mouth referrers, which one delivered the most referrals?
  • Of all of our referrers, which one delivered the most referrals that converted to clients?
  • Of all of our referrers, which one delivered the most profitable clients? (hint: that’s your new best friend).
  • Etc.

Whether you use a simple spreadsheet or a swanky CRM to track incoming business, what’s key is to dig down into the numbers to get to the heart of the matter. Who is the person using word of mouth to refer you to new clients, who always come up trumps with a perfect new client, that is great to work with and doesn’t end up eating into your profit margin? And on the flip side, who delivers lots of referrals that just aren’t appropriate for your business? Cosy up and shower gifts on the former, re-educate the latter on who you are really looking to work with.

Thanks again to the lovely people who recommend us, we LOVE you, keep doing what you do!

Keen to put marketing systems like this in place? Need some help? Get in touch to find out how we can work with you on this challenge.


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