Last time I checked, 74% of our new business came from word of mouth referrals. That’s just downright staggering isn’t it? Pretty much three quarters of our clients came from people jibbering on about how awesome we are (or something to that effect, we’ll just go with that to stroke my ego okay?)
You do good work, you deliver great results, clients rave about you and you get more great clients. And so continues the blissful cycle of never having to look for leads.
But is it really that easy to get referrals?
We actually have a referral program in place and still most of our clients don’t refer.
So what’s the trick?
In my experience it’s this: you gotta partner with the right types of businesses.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a trend. I get a lot more referrals from three types of clients. Want to know who they are? Of course you do, let’s dive in!
Here’s my top 3 must-have partners every designer should have…
1. Business Coaches are a glitter-bomb of glory for your web business.
The right kind of business coaches can do wonders for your business.
I say ‘the right kind’ because I have come across quite a few lemons in my time who seem to just like change for the sake of change. What I mean is, they like to get involved in the design process and make really stupid suggestions steering the project completely off course. In my opinion it’s just to justify their existence to their coaching client but I could be wrong. My advice is to steer clear of these ones though, you’ll know them when you see them!
But, if you’re careful and you partner with Business Coaches who are happy to trust you as the expert, give good advice to their clients about how to get results, and work well with you, never let them go.
A mentor once said to me “Bianca, if I send you business and you don’t show your appreciation, I’m going to stop sending you business. That’s just the way it is. And if I’m like that, everyone else that sends you business is probably the same.” I love that mentor, he’s just so raw and honest. It’s true though. It’s human nature. No one likes to just give, give, give and never get any thanks. That’s not cool.
Some won’t want any money but you still should pay them in some way or you may find the leads start drying up. Wine, dinner for two, movies, gift basket, whatever, you can have a lot of fun with it being a designer and all!
2. Marketing Consultants are a designer’s best friend.
I once worked with one particular marketing consultant on a rebranding project and it injected $150,000 into my design business. That’s why I say ‘they’re a designer’s best friend’. I was introduced to her through a developer who I met through my own business coach at the time so you can see how it’s all very incestuous! LOL We were all in bed together!
Seriously though, that one consultant and I probably did close to $500k of business together and still do the odd website nowadays even though our businesses have shifted. We have others that just flick us a lead, and others who have ended up joining my reseller program and doing all the work themselves, just buying sites off me at a wholesale rate.
There is literally TONS of business to be done with marketing consultants. It’s a whole other blog series on its own there’s so much! You can choose to work transparently like I always have, or keep behind the scenes and they manage the entire project with the client. Either way works great.
One of the best things about these guys is they skill and experience they bring to the table. We all know how much we love a good brief and you’ll always get the best from these types. I learn so much when I work with marketing consultants, and I especially love getting invited to sit in on workshops they run because I take away so much new knowledge.
The projects you work on together will also amp up your folio because there’s so much strategy and planning that goes into it from a marketing perspective. And nothing beats a web design with a great strategy behind it!
3. And Event Managers will be back time and time again.
We have a handful of really great Event Managers as clients and one of them has brought us over 20 websites! If you work out the average lifetime value of those 20 clients, we’re talking a tidy sum of money.
Sometimes Event Managers take short-term contracts with government departments and councils, tourism events, private contracts etc. They get around. And guess what? They are forever in need of new websites for all the new events and contracts they manage.
Don’t let their title fool you either. They can sometimes be disguised as Special Project Planners, Marketing Coordinators or Consultants, Tourism Coordinators or Event Organisers depending on the contract but keep a lookout for anyone who manages events on a regular basis.
The best part about teaming up with these types is that if you knock their socks off and they love the way you operate, they get familiar with the same process and they never want to leave. They’ll go into bat for you, and I mean HARD, when it comes to presenting options to committees. They basically sell the website for you and you just line up to take the order.
I’ve had Event Managers in the past migrate sites over to us just because they hated working in the platform the site was set up in. Not because the event needed a new site.
They’re a dream to work with and they always pay on time, probably because it’s not their money! They know how you work, they’re super organised with content, they’re happy to upload it all and they know what they’re doing. I love my Event Managers, I really do. I could kiss them every time they bring me a new project. Total bliss!
So I’m really curious, do you have a referral program in place? If so, do you pay cash, credit, gifts? What’s your secret sauce?
I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours… Leave me a comment and let’s chat!