How to find new customers? 25 ways to do it without looking desperate
Would you like to find new customers, but you don’t know how to ask for references? Here are 25 strategies that come to your aid
We all agree that references are the best way to find new customers. The references, in fact, travel on a direct channel and, above all, their cost is almost close to zero.
We also agree that asking our friends, relatives or customers to introduce us to new contacts sometimes embarrasses us, so much so that sometimes we end up not exposing ourselves at all. The risk is to seem desperate, or too insistent towards our contacts. So how can we not transmit these two ideas to those we ask for references?
We offer you 25 strategies to experiment that will allow you to be effective without compromising your business.
To be direct
Surely asking your customers to advise us on other new contacts directly is a strategy that leads to an immediate result.
If the face to face seems too much, we can send them an email, or insert a well thought out sentence at the end of our invoices. Your customers will be happy to recommend your professionalism if they are doing well with you.
Shooting on the pile could be counterproductive if what interests us is quality. So we can select among our clients those with whom we have a stable relationship, or those who are part of a network of products and services.
The goal is to address customers who already trust us, or with whom we have been working side by side for some time; in this way they will be more inclined to advise us in turn to their contacts, simply because they know who we are and how we work.
Give a benefit
Sometimes it takes very little effort to create a benefit for our customers, showing them at the same time that we care about the relationship that has been established between us.
For example: after reading an article that might be interesting for them, or after launching new products on the market that may be of interest, we send an email with the related link, showing first that we are thinking about them and we care about their interests, even if at the moment we are not cooperating.
Recognize and thank
Here is an interesting and not at all obvious passage. When it comes to references, it is important to show gratitude to those who gave them to us. The ways to do this are truly the most varied: from the classic phone call, to email, to a more informal message.
Even a handwritten thank you note is a suitable solution, if nothing else we will amaze them.
Take yourself in time
Sometimes we tend to believe that before asking new references to a client we must necessarily complete the project we are collaborating on. This is not always true, indeed quite the opposite: if the customer is happy to work with us, he will also be more inclined to share his involvement with his network of contacts.
In the event that they do not present any contact, we can always thank them and remember that if a person comes to mind, they can refer them to us later.
We will never tire of saying it: the copy paste will speed up any communication with customers, but rarely contributes to improving the relationship with them.
So when we send the reference requests, let’s make sure we do it in a personalized and ad hoc way for the client we’re addressing, perhaps highlighting which of the services we offer might be more interesting in the first place for him, and then for the his contacts.
Make yourself traceable
It seems trivial to remember a detail so obvious, but in reality it is not, given that our society is used to having everything always available, especially the contacts. Let’s make sure we are clearly visible and traceable, both in physical and digital media. An excellent idea is to insert our contacts (email address and phone number) anywhere.
From invoices, to signing in our communications, and even on social networks. Another great idea is to make sure our customers save our number on their phones. In this way we will always be quick to track down, and to recommend to new contacts.
Don’t always be direct
In some cases, asking for references directly is not a good choice. For example, there are customers who are not allowed to contact their employers. In cases like these you have to come up with something different.
A good idea is to ask if they are available to leave a review on our site, or if they are available to release a testimonial to be published online. In this way they will expose themselves in our favor without providing us with any direct contact, but will create a content that can increase our reputation.
Everyone likes gifts, this is beyond doubt, so giving incentives as a gift card, a discount on the next appointment, or even a small donation to be given to a charity in their name, helps to create a bond.
At this point we only have to inform our customers that for every reference they give us, they will have, for our part, a voucher to spend online (Amazon, etc.).
When we ask a customer if he knows someone who might need one of our services, we should try to narrow it down.
For example, if we have a collaboration in writing financial articles, we might ask if you know someone who might need an expert blockchain or techno finance editor. In this way we have a higher chance of breaking through his memory.
In order not to be caught off guard, or to make it a little more automatic, a good idea is to create marketing materials designed specifically for references.
It doesn’t have to be something challenging: even a simple business card can go well, or a link to an online form to insert in communications that points to a dedicated page. The aim is to make it easier for customers to name names.
“Refer a friend”
The strategy of presenting a friend, although it may seem a bit dated, is still quite successful. So we can create a page, a form, or a banner to add to our site, which allows visitors to enter their contact details.
One of the most common techniques when it comes to referral marketing is to pay for the references we receive. For example: we can leave our reference tickets in a coffee house in the center and agree with the owner a certain amount for each ticket they will distribute.
Or agree a percentage on purchases of new customers who will contact us thanks to this agreement.
We have already talked about free work, but there are some exceptions that we need to consider in terms of references and business growth. If we are beginners, or we want to win over some big customers, offering a discounted price, or free work, can be a smart idea.
Sometimes helping them in a minor project that does not require too much energy on our part could lead to long-term benefits.
A move to consider is to make the reference mode as simple as possible.
Thinking of a written formula to be sent by e-mail in which our customers will only have to enter their name and contact details of their friends / acquaintances will show that we do not want to waste them too much time.
Don’t forget your signature
The signature contained in our emails is the first real vehicle with which to ask for references. For example we can include the words “forward my contact information”, or “share my contacts with your friends”, to get an almost automatic call to action.
If bartering is the oldest form of commerce and has always remained of great relevance, there will be a valid reason. If we are the first to provide references to one of our customers, there will be a good chance that the favor will be returned to us.
Stay in touch
As we have already said, it is not certain that an old customer will no longer be interested in our services.
An idea may be to set reminders that remind us every three, six or twelve months, to send an email to past clients to ask how they are and if we can be useful in some way.
Don’t forget LinkedIn
The social network dedicated to the working world remains one of the most valid tools for references and to reach new potential customers.
LinkedIn, in fact, allows you to contact who is in the network of our contacts. Before using this tool, of course, it is very important to make sure that the profile is updated and optimized.
There’s nothing wrong with asking your customers to “like” our Facebook page, but that’s not enough. This social network has great potential for business, in fact the average user has more than 200 friends.
So we can go a little further and prepare some valuable content that can be easily shared by our customers, so they can make their network of friends.
Enter a network
There are local groups of companies and professionals who come together to network and collaborate. In these groups users meet, physically or virtually, about once a week to socialize, learn from each other and, above all, exchange contacts.
Surely it will occupy a good part of our time, but the result is worth the investment.
If we are working on something new, we can give an exclusive preview to those who are already our customers, so that they can try it, or give us feedback to improve it. The same goes for sales, granting early access, or a privileged discount.
By granting these privileges our customers will feel like VIPs, and with good chances they will try to return the favor.
If we think that the references only concern our old customers or the current ones, we are probably ignoring a great possibility. If we build a partnership with another freelance or company, we could exchange contacts when we are too busy, or if the customer asks for something more specific that falls within the niche of the other.
It will be a surprise to see that this type of symbiotic relationship works better than one might think.
One way to show our customers that we are really interested in them is to be careful and active by commenting on their posts on Facebook, or on their blog. Sometimes it is also sufficient to make a report if something is wrong, like the website that does not load, or if you notice an error.
Taking care of the relationship fosters mutual trust, and this is the passe-partout that opens their columns.
Hands up who loves surprises. The opportunities to give our customers a little surprise are endless. From the classic wish for a happy birthday, to the little extra added for free to the work already agreed.
Once again, this is not a direct method of asking for references, but a way of conceiving the working relationship that increases their loyalty.
Among these 25 methods to get new contacts from people who are already in your network are all to experiment. Every business is a world of its own, so all that remains is to try them and discover the ones that best fit the specific situation. Did we forget something? Explain in the comments how to get references from your contacts.