serviceDo you rely on referrals to grow your business?

Are they enough to reach your goals?

I speak to many Edinburgh CEOs and they all have different challenges that they need to overcome to grow their business.

One thing I often hear is that they are frustrated. Although they are getting plenty of referrals it is not enough to grow their business as quickly as they would like.

Referrals are a brilliant way to generate revenue for your business and are a result of great relationships and offering an awesome service or product to your customers.

92% of respondents from a Neilson survey said they trusted referrals from people they knew.

If you are a small business and your current rate of referrals is enough to grow your business, and at the pace you like, then this is great, you will be saving a lot of money on marketing costs.

I was speaking to a CEO just the other day and he was quite happy with the rate his business was growing, which was great for him but what about businesses that needed more?

Going beyond referrals

If you have ambitious growth plans then you can’t just rely on your referrals to reach your sales and growth goals. Referrals can be slow and some of the CEOs I have spoken to tell me that they have difficulty getting more revenue from some of these referrals.

So solely using them to grow your business may be difficult and may not be the best strategy.

So if referrals aren’t the answer, then what is?

Take a look at the graph below from a global survey conducted by Neilson. This may give you some clues to what works and what doesn’t.


From the graph we can see that most types of advertising are not performing well. People just don’t trust advertising anymore whether it is online or offline. 85% of people don’t accept advertising as truth.

What is performing well is consumer opinions posted online, branded websites and editorial content.

This means that you should be investing more time creating great customer experiences online and off.

Delighting your customers online

Inbound marketing has evolved as a result of consumer behaviour and attracts the right kind of people to your website and turns those people into leads and sales and delights them so they become brand advocates.

By using your brand website you can create content that answers the questions your customers have which will help them to make their buying decisions. As the survey suggests, branded websites are relevant and customer opinions online are a major source of help for them. If you are helping your prospects they will say great things about you.

People also find editorial content relevant, so create content on your business blog to attract your prospects to your site.

55% of respondents said emails they signed up for are relevant. Create email marketing campaigns to nurture them into customers, offer them helpful information and answer the most common sales questions.

If your business is the one that helps your prospects then you will be the one that attracts most of the business online.

For example: Your competitor produced a blog post or an eBook that your prospect downloaded, and your prospect saw them as a valuable source of information.  When prospect was ready to buy – they went back to trusted source of information.

How Inbound supercharges your referrals

90% of people found recommendations by a friend most relevant. When they see that not only were you recommend by a friend you are also the one online helping them, they will be even more likely to use you.

Also as you have helped all of these people to make their buying decisions, you will create more referrals and more brand advocates so when even more people search they will find more of your happy customers reviews.

Key take aways

We all know that referrals are great and are essential to the success of many businessess. However, if the growth of your company cannot be achieved by referrals then it is time to look at inbound marketing to grow your business.

Create content that helps to answer your prospects questions and delight them at every step. This means more sales, referrals and brand advocates. All of this content will also see you become a thought leader within your industry.

For more in-depth guidance on successful digital and inbound marketing for CEOs, click here to learn about our free ebook: “The CEOs Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing”.

Now it’s your turn

Do you agree?

Are referrals enough to grow your business? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: 92% of respondents from a Neilson survey said they trusted referrals from people they knew.

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