Up until 2017, we did nothing to market our business.
Instead, we relied on referrals.
But when you only rely on referrals to fuel your business, you will hit problems.
In this podcast episode, we’re going to tell you…
- Why referrals are bad for business
- The bad things that can happen when you rely on referrals
- What to do instead of relying on referrals
- How to turn a referral into an ‘ideal’ client
Time Stamps If You’re In a Rush!
1.03 – Why are referrals bad for business?
1.52 – You don’t know who they are
2.41 – Are they the right fit?
3.39 – Combat this through content
5.07 – Don’t shut down a referral
7.02 – How we can help you plan content
7.41 – Why your business stays still when you rely on referrals
9.34 – The benefits of actively marketing vs referrals
10.56 – The importance of being able to pivot
Welcome to the Make Your Mark online podcast where we help personal brands build and grow a successful business website. Please welcome your host, husband and wife team, Martin & Lyndsay.
Welcome to Episode 39 and series three of the Make Your Mark online podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about why referrals are bad for business.
Now this season, I will be running the podcast myself – myself being Lyndsay, just in case you weren’t quite sure which one was which on that one. And Martin is going to be doing lots of video. So I’m going to be focusing on the podcast at the same time. This actually suits us really well and because it kind of plays to our strengths. So we’re both very excited to have our own little individual projects here.
So before I get into the episode, I just want to say that the show is sponsored by the Make Your Mark online at community. This is our signature community where we help small business owners build and grow a small Successful website. So let’s get on with the show.
So why referrals are bad for business? Now, this can be kind of a controversial thing to say because we all feel good when someone recommends us right? And I know I feel really good when someone says good things about me like the guys at Jammy digital are great and they make great websites. That makes me feel really good. And it’ll probably make you feel really good too, when you know other people actually recommend you or previous clients or people that have come across you before actually recommend you to others.
But in this podcast episode, I’m going to tell you why that’s bad. And we for very long time actually, before 2017 we relied solely on referrals to our business, and then we switched. I’m going to tell you why that happened. And I’m also going to explain to you kind of what the benefits were as well.
So firstly, why is it bad to actually have referrals coming to your business. So one of the main issues with having referrals come to your business is that you don’t know who they are. You don’t have a clue who this person actually is. And I’m going to refer to it kind of using a dating analogy. So it’s kind of like your mum saying, you know, I’m going to set you up with Tony from accounts or Jane from accounts. And you’re thinking…
yeah, I don’t know who Tony or Jane is. They they might be super nice people, we might connect we, you know, it might just be a fluke, we might get married. Or they could be really creepy. They could have a weird doll collection, you know, you never know they could be a serial killer, you don’t know.
And it’s kind of the same referrals, you know, people keep referring these people to you, and you don’t have a clue who they are. And you don’t know whether they’re the right fit for you. You know, you could be perfect, you could work together really well, or you don’t know whether they’re completely the wrong fit. And you know, everything could go kind of wrong. And, and that’s because they’ve been referred to you. So they don’t know anything about your business and how you operate and who you are, and you don’t know anything about them and what their expectations are. And that’s a huge, huge problem. And because, you know, they may not understand what your processes, they may not be willing to pay what you charge, and they may not understand, you know, what’s expected of them through through the whole thing.
You know, there’s lots and lots of things that that they won’t know, and, and that you don’t know how they’re going to react to. So there’s a big there’s a big problem there.
Now, to combat that, we started content marketing, in 2017. And we kind of go on about this being the the the life changing thing, not even the business changing thing, but the life changing thing that happened to us. And it actually was, and we always say, and it sounds super cheesy, but it was it was life changing for us because of when we started content marketing about things that people would ask us, you know, clients and potential clients would ask us things like, how much do you charge? Why are you so expensive? Why are you so cheap? We’ve had that one before. And what’s what’s the process? How long did the project take? Why does it take longer than than you think it’s going to take? You know, why should I work with you? What’s wrong with you? We actually blogged about all of these things. So that when someone comes to our website and finds us naturally, they gain all the information they need to decide whether we’re the right fit for them, or whether they’re like, nope, these people are really weird, I’m going to go somewhere else.
So they actually make that decision for themselves by being informed by our content. That gives them the power and then when they come to us, they’re likely to be a really, really good fit for our business. S
o the problem is, obviously whenever a referral comes to you is they haven’t seen that content. They haven’t seen you. They might have not even been on your website, they might have not even heard of you before. They don’t know how you work, and you don’t know how they work as well.
So I’m not saying this point, what you need to do is when you get a referral, is just say no, go away. I don’t want to speak to you. We don’t want that, obviously. But equally, we don’t want to just, you know, dive into this relationship straight away and start working with someone when we don’t know what they like.
So what we do is when we get a referral, actually, when we get any kind of person who contacts or someone wants to know more information about our website project, who wants to get on a call with us, we say that sounds great! We cannot wait to learn more about your business, which we genuinely can’t, and and the project. And first off before we actually jump on a call, here are three and four pieces of content that you might not have seen from us haven’t read over them. Then we’re going to jump on a call you’re going to ask us any questions that you have. And these pieces of content are usually things like you know how much we charge for our website. This is our process, and you know how long the project takes. And we also have a website Buyer’s Guide thrown in there as well, which teaches people how to actually sort of buy a website. And it’s completely unbiased. And so we give people these pieces of content because, particularly with referrals, if they’ve not come across this before, that’s their opportunity to learn more about us learn about how we work, and then again, go back to the point where they’re like, these guys are weird. We don’t want to work with them.
Or they might be like, we like the look of these – let’s work with them. And that’s great. And then we jump on a call. And we know by that time that we’ve jumped on a call that, they’ve gone through our content marketing, and they’ve still kind of committed to that process in some sort of way.
And so that works really, really well so we’re not saying you know, when you get referral through just completely shut it down. And that would be that’d be quite rude and mean, but you know, use your content marketing still educate and inform people of how you work and then if they still don’t work with you, then they can do.
And if you actually need help with planning this kind of content, and we have something called our content marketing planner, which we created, and which will tell you the type of content that you should be producing, and in order to educate and inform people properly, but also to actually increase sales and leads to your business, and it’s actually a really, really good planner, which helps you plan all that out, by your products and services. So you actually go off your products, services and plan copy content for each of those products and services that you offer. So it’s really really cool. And and I recommend that you download that is completely free to anyone who downloads it and I’ll pop it in the show notes as well.
So I’m just going to go into the second reason why you shouldn’t rely on referrals for your business. And that is because you won’t grow your business if you rely on referrals. Now it sounds obvious, but pre 2017 old we did we didn’t do any marketing that was no content, marketing, social media marketing, any of that. We just relied on referrals. And so past clients saying, you know, this, someone I, you know, I had my website built with these guys, you should have your website built with these guys. And that was kind of fine. You know, we kind of bumbling along we got the same amount of money, the same kind of clients, we did the same thing every day.
Until we realized, actually, we’re not growing our business. So when you do this, when you rely on referrals, your business stays still. It doesn’t develop, it doesn’t get any better, doesn’t get any worse. It just kind of stays the still stay stagnant. And, and this is fine when things are going good. But you have to think about, okay, in six months time or in a year time or whatever it might be, you know, do you still want to be doing the same thing?
Firstly, and what happens if those referrals dry up? That’s you know, it’s a major, major problem with those referrals dry up, you’re kind of left stranded, you haven’t got any leads in the pipeline, you’re kind of stuck, so when relying on referrals your business sort of stops – it still doesn’t go anywhere. You don’t get any website traffic, you don’t get any email subscribers, you don’t get any extra leads and sales, you don’t build your personal brand, and and that means yeah, you don’t have a pipeline of leads and you’re stuck doing what you’ve always done.
You you can’t increase your prices, you know if someone says oh, Jammy Digital designed my website for a grand and you know, you can do the same. We can’t then turn around to then go actually it’s two grand now or three grand or four grand or like five grand is what we what we charge now.
You know, so it’s it’s very, very difficult actually doing that your business remains still. But when you actively start marketing and in particular content marketing, then you can charge more for your services because you’re, you’re telling people you know, this is how much I charge and then they’re going through your content marketing and that they’re getting in touch with you knowing how much you charge. You can select who you want to work with, you know, things like our article on who will not be th right fit, actually, you know, repels people who aren’t the right fit for our business, you become a leader in your industry.
You know, if you write a lot of content, if you become kind of the leader in your industry of answering people’s questions about your particular products and services, then people aren’t going to view that if you that way, they are going to trust you and see you as an authority.
And you can even pivot so what we found was by content marketing by building our email list by doing more marketing by doing more to promote our business, we able to build you know a base of people and who I am will basically you know, they they invest in us and and they like working with us, and whatever kind of products or services that we offer, they will they will look at those and then they will work with us and they then they’ll probably buy them from us just because they know that we know what we’re talking about. They’ve they’ve dealt with us before
The’re constantly coming back to us – reading and consuming content, they trust us. And so we could able to pivot and that’s why we introduced our, our membership. In 2018, we introduced our making mark on my membership, which was aimed at people who were wanting to build a websites and what we’re struggling with it. And it’s just kind of struggling to grow it and not really knowing what to do with it, it’s just kind of sitting there like a billboard, and it’s not actually doing anything. And we actually launched that product. And we were able to do that because we built such a base to begin with.
So remember you you might not be offering the service or product that you do forever. So you need something now you need a backup of people that are you know, invested in you that know you know what you’re talking about that trust you where you can go actually, guys, I’ve got this new product, this new thing coming out, I think it’s going to really benefit you. And they will happily give you their money because they know of the value that you offer.
So those are the major reasons why you shouldn’t rely on referrals. And as I said before, I’m not Saying shut the referrals down before anyone starts thinking okay, well, I’m just gonna say no referrals. And equally you know, if you referring people to us yeah, we still accept those. Thank you. And it’s just about thinking carefully about it. It’s about being aware, okay, this person coming in, it’s great. It’s really nice. I like it.
It’s an added bonus. That’s what you should treat referrals as – an added bonus to your business. But it isn’t your isn’t the lifeline of your business. It shouldn’t be the blood pumping to your business. Definitely not. And should be an added bonus and you should still get that person before you let them into your business. You know, you should still get them to read your content, consume, consume your content, see if they’re the right fit for you. That’s really, really important. Otherwise, you might head to problems down the line.
So I hope you enjoyed this episode. It is a little controversial one but I hope that you found it useful. Going from relying on referrals to going it alone is scary, but if you do it right, you will find that you won’t need to realize referrals. And actually, you prefer to get clients kind of finding you naturally rather than were being referred to you. And I’m community, we are actually launching a 90 day Content Marketing Challenge on Monday the 13th of January. And that will help our members do just that. It’s a simple challenge, you just need to produce one piece of content every week for 90 days. And we provide personalized weekly feedback via kind of live video on that content too. So you write a piece of content or you record a video or podcast episode, and then we’ll tell you exactly how to improve it for conversions or SEO or, you know, the headline or the copy and things that we’re really excited about to actually start it. And so you’ll be able to attract better people to your business naturally, and you know, be able to actually work with the people that you want to work with. So if that sounds like something that you’d be interested in, head over to Make Your Mark online.net find out more and that’s it for today’s as episode we’ll see you next time on The Make Your Mark online podcast.
Owner at Jammy Digital, Digital Marketing Specialist and Writer of Young-Adult Fiction.