Get More Word of Mouth Referrals Using These 4 Tips

A study conducted by Google, TNS and Ogilvy solidified what many already knew. Word of mouth is the most influential point in making purchasing decisions. In fact 74% of consumers polled ranked it as the number one factor.

What is more curious though, is that according to a 2016 marketing survey, 90% of respondents named word of mouth as their ultimate way of landing more jobs. Justin Fox, who explored this matter in 2014, also discovered that 84% of solopreneurs earning six-figures and more receive most of their work through referrals. The number is a bit more modest (74%) for respondents with smaller income, yet who tend to work 15+ hours per week on side gigs.

Clearly, word of mouth is important for landing freelance work. And the following tips will detail how to get the clients you have impressed to spread the word.

1. Remember that not every referral needs to come from a paying client

Not every referral needs to be framed in terms of, “I paid for this. I loved it. You should do the same.” Obviously a referral from a paying client that results in your getting a new client has the most immediate and tangible value. However, referrals that begin relationships or nudge potential clients closer to you are also valuable. This includes:

  • Recommending your blog to friends and family
  • Tagging someone in a post or video that might help them
  • Sharing your content to friends and family members

These referrals get your name out to a wider audience. They also open up new opportunities to engage with potential, new clients. There is value in being referred as a source of industry knowledge, advice, and help. Getting a new fan on a Facebook page may not seem very valuable, but in truth it can be worth money. This value increases if you do the work required to turn that fan into a client.

2. Embed referral requirements in client agreements

It may seem presumptuous to ask for a referral before you’ve completed any work. To be truthful, it is if the requirement is without parameters. However, you can add a referral requirement to a client agreement that indicates your commitment to providing your client with stellar services.

You can do this by conditioning the referral requirement on your going above and beyond normal expectations. For example, if you are a freelance recruiter and know that it takes on average six months to fill a C suite position, condition the requirement on you beating that. The agreement might say, “If an executive level position is filled within three months, the client will provide two referrals.”

3. Wait for the right moment to ask for a referral

Timing referral requests is key. To summarize referral coach Bill Cates, the best moment to request a referral is when a client sees the value in what you are doing for them. The moment you deliver a finished product or service to a satisfied customer is certainly a good time to ask for referrals.

Clients will always be receptive to providing referrals when they are impressed and enthused by what you are doing for them. Keep in mind that it may not be a good idea to ask for a referral when you are collecting payment. Even satisfied clients may not feel very receptive at that moment.

4. Make it easy to recommend you

The easier it is to provide a referral, the more likely someone is to do it. First, if you request a referral via email, consider providing your client with a template that they can use to recommend you. This will help ensure that you get all of the information that you need. There are even web based referral systems that you can use to automate the process entirely.

Don’t forget to use email as a means to make it easy for clients to give you referrals. You could include a tagline requesting referrals in your email, or embed a link to a referral form on your website.

While they may not be as fruitful as direct referrals, you should also consider adding links to relevant review sites so that happy clients can broadcast their thoughts to a wider audience. The bottom line is this: Clients are doing you a favor by providing a referral. They will be much more receptive if you make it easy.

There is nothing more convincing to a potential client than a referral from someone they trust. In order to make your business grow, you need to focus on earning referrals. The four tips above are proven steps that you can take to convince clients to provide worthy referrals to you, and to ensure that you are providing the kind of service that makes you referral worthy.