Marketing Basics: Generating Repeat Business and Referrals
When it comes to marketing, working with previous clients is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get projects. Referrals are a close second.
With repeat business, the client is already sold on you. As long as you understand the project and your fee is agreeable, you’re likely to get the job.
With referral business, the potential client is likely already sold — or close to it — and they just want to be sure. Sometimes they’ll just need a quick phone conversation to finalize their decision.
Here are five ways to get more repeat business and referrals than you know what to do with:
Ask for referrals. Some web writers are shy about asking for referrals. You shouldn’t be because what you’re really asking for is the chance to help their friends in the same way you helped them. Assuming you did a good job for them, they should be happy to refer you, but it might not cross their mind. That’s why it’s up to you to ask them.
When should you ask for referrals? The best time is after they say they’re happy with the work you did for them. (This is also the best time to ask for a testimonial.)
Be an idea person. While we’re on the topic of asking, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask clients for repeat work. (Assuming the client was satisfied with the work you just finished.)
But, experts will tell you not to simply say, “Do you have more work for me?” And I agree. Instead, suggest work that needs to be done.
Look at their website and their competitors’ websites. Look for opportunities for them to make more money. Be a student of what’s working online now and suggest ideas to your clients. They’ll appreciate that you’re looking out for them and committed to their success.
Always do your best work. This is probably pretty obvious, but doing your best work is the best way to ensure that your clients are always happy. Also, doing your best will make them want to work with you again and refer you to others.
Here are a few tips for doing your best: Don’t put assignments off until the last minute. Don’t scrimp on your research. Don’t think you can get by with “good enough.”
Don’t procrastinate, but if you occasionally have trouble with an assignment — or have an emergency come up — ask for an extension. It’s better to ask for a little more time than to turn in mediocre copy.
Let your clients know when you have openings. Just like your clients don’t think about sending you referrals, they probably don’t think about sending you more work. Even though many of them would be more than happy to give you referrals and repeat work.
You should check in with your clients from time to time to see how they’re doing. This will keep you on their short list of go-to writers. Always come prepared with some ideas for them and let them know you’re available for work.
I speak from experience when I say that clients might not be giving you repeat work because they think you’re busy. If you do a good job getting exposure in your industry, your clients will see your name everywhere and assume you’re too busy to take on new work. Following up with them will make them feel special and get you repeat work.
Remember, if they don’t have any work when you reach out to them, you could ask for referrals.
Automate the process. It can be really time-consuming to follow up with old clients, find new clients, ask for referrals, and write copy. One thing you can do to make the process easier is to automate it with an e-letter. When you have a lead or satisfied client, ask if you can put them on your email list. Then once or twice a month, send out an e-letter that provides value to your clients and lets them know you are available for work.
You can also automate the referral-getting process by adding a request for referrals to your invoices and signature line in your email.
When it comes to requesting referrals, there are tons of techniques. The trick is finding something you’re comfortable with so you will do it consistently. Remember, with all marketing, consistency equals results.
For more ideas about how to get referrals, check out 11 Ways to Find Clients with Referrals. There should be a technique there for you.
For more advice on getting referrals (including how to ask for them), check out Sid Smith’s article: How to Get Your Clients to Give You Quality Referrals.
So how about you? Do you get a lot of business from repeat clients or referrals? How do you do it? Please share in the comments below.
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