Marketing is a crucial part of any business. Whether you are an ag retailer or a multi-million dollar retail establishment, you won’t go very far without a good marketing strategy. A part of marketing is using existing customers to help you find new customers, and so on.
Referrals are an essential part of any business. So how do you ask for referrals from your existing clients?
The Value of the Referral
Referrals have their value when it comes to marketing strategies. We all know farmers talk. Whether they are at the local fast-food restaurant, getting a cup of coffee, or run into each other at a ball game, they speak to one another. There is no better marketing tool than the positive word of a satisfied customer.
So really, what is the $ value of a referral? You can’t fully quantify the amount of money that a referral amounts to. You can see the savings in some areas of your marketing plan, though. You get the perk of growing your ag retail establishment while keeping your costs for marketing low.
Gaining Referrals from Existing Customers
There are ways to improve the way that you gain referrals from existing customers. So many times, this is the area that gets neglected when trying to market a business. More money is spent on ads and other means of advertising when all you had to do was ask someone to tell a friend.
- Exceed Expectations: If you want your customers to talk about how great of an ag retailer you are, you need to go above and beyond the call of duty! Provide exceptional customer service while maintaining a knowledgeable staff and high-quality products. Sometimes not being the retailer who is getting bashed at the coffee shop is just as positive as a referral.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: All too often, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Once you know that the customer is satisfied with your product, service, and customer service – ask them to put in a good word with someone you know they’re friendly with.
- Say Thank You: Not only is saying “thank you” for a referral polite, but it can go a long way in terms of customer satisfaction. You can say thank you in many ways, but the most popular is implementing a rewards program for referrals – using things like store credit, a gift, or complimentary services.
- Face-to-Face: Your customers want to feel like they are important. There is no better way than having a personal conversation with them. Take a moment to have a conversation with them and ask them (face-to-face) for a referral.
Why You Should Nurture Customer Referrals
According to Nielson’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 83% of consumers report that they trust the recommendation of family and friends, which makes referrals the most trusted form of advertisement. Not only that, but they are also one of the cheapest methods – word of mouth doesn’t cost a dime.
If you haven’t started asking your customers for referrals, now is the time to start doing so. But, there are some things to avoid.
- Don’t automatically solicit referrals from new customers. Let them see your work and your service first. Let them make a decision about you before you ask.
- Don’t beg. Be polite when you ask customers to make referrals. You don’t want to come across as desperate.
- Don’t ask too often. If you become a nuisance, your customers will not want to refer you to anyone, and they may go elsewhere.
One of the best things you can do is incentivize referrals. The more referrals a customer has, the bigger their reward. Meaning, if they frequent your establishment often, they will have a more significant stake in gaining the reward.
Part of marketing your ag retail business is ensuring that customers know what you offer, the technology you use, and what it can do for them. Incorporating customer success stories and asking satisfied customers to leave reviews of your retail business can help make a positive impact on what potential customers see when they look you up.
Taking the time to ask for referrals may seem time-consuming to some, but successful retailers know that each referral sets them that much more apart from the competition. People trust people, not businesses. Making a customer feel like you are personally invested in their farming operation is key to successfully converting them into a champion for your business. So, take the time to nurture your customer relationships and notice how much easier it is to collect referrals.