Recently I had a conversation with a client about their business, their marketing plan and their referral system. Their question was, Should we be working by referral only, or should we consider other aspects of marketing? My feedback was simple; you should not be doing either with out a plan.
Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, services, organizations, and events to create and maintain relationships that will satisfy individual and organizational objectives.-Contemporary Marketing Wired (1998) by Boone and Kurtz. Dryden Press.
How does your marketing plan relate to your business plan, your mission statement or your vision statement? Your company’s business plan provides the environment in which your marketing plan must flourish. The two documents must have continuity between them according the American Marketing Association.
Inside your marketing plan, you look at all aspects of how you get your message to prospects that might be in need to your product or service. For instance, you may have advertising as one of your marketing activities. Under advertising you may have, TV, Billboard, Coupons, Radio, Google Ads, and so forth. For each of those you need a budget, a timetable to implement, a system to measure results, and a target market.
Your referral system should be part of your overall Marketing Plan. Unfortunately, most people do not have a plan for referrals. They might implement a reward system for people or customers who send them referrals and they stop there.
A good referral system should have a target market, a timetable for implementation, a budget, a training system for your referral partners, and a system for tracking your results. Your referral-marketing plan should be part of your over all marketing plan.
Should you be By Referral Only that is really a question that you must ask yourself. There are many business professionals who are by referral only, because they know they have plenty of work, many good clients and they know that referred clients have a longer shelf life, spend more money and are more likely to refer others to them.
- Building your business by referral takes more time than money. (remember time is money) Relationships and trust take time and cannot be rushed or bought.
- Advertising, PR, and many other forms of marketing take more money than time.
- Both must have a plan.
- Building your brand and your business takes a combination of both.
Business must stop letting referrals happen by accident, and they need to look beyond the “customer referral” to actually developing a plan to find, train and reward referral partners. Having a quality referral marketing plan will increase the quality and quantity of referred prospects. Organization like the Referral Institute work with business across the nation to develop their Referral Marketing Plan while the American Marketing Association supports a variety of professionals who can help a business develop their marketing plan.
If you are a new business owner or an established business owner, make sure you have a plan and review it often.