By Bryan Mann-Entzel
Creative Lead, Strategist and Brand Storyteller at Greater Thought Marketing+Design
That is a fairly simple statement but it is also one of the most difficult notions to actually act on. As businesses, especially in the midwest, we have a hard time asking people for referrals and reviews. I’m not sure if it is because we have all been raised with a self sufficiency mindset, or if it is because we are afraid of the possibility that we won’t get the response we hoped for after asking an individual, business or client. The reality is, referrals matter. Let’s all say that out loud.
When Greater Thought begins working with a new company one of the things we look at is, the 4 quadrants of their brand experience.
- Traditional media
- Online media
- Word of mouth and
- Direct experience
The word of mouth or WOM is how news of your brand travels from one person to the next. It is also considered “earned equity” in some respects because you can’t buy this like you can other marketing. It comes with time, from positive interactions.
One of the other key pieces of a business’s reputation that lives under this referrals and WOM umbrella is the idea of reviews.
Online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and industry platforms like “Agency Spotter” (marketing specific for us), are part of that earned equity. These reviews are posted on the internet for the masses to see. It is the equivalent of an Amazon product rating for your business or brand. Greater than 80% of prospective customers of your brand do online research before deciding to do business with you. Your website, your social media presence and any reviews are going to help them in their education and discovery process and get them closer to that final decision.
Aggregating a large number of reviews can take years.
You may have contact with many or few customers depending on the type of business you are in. That is not good or bad, you just have to capitalize on those opportunities to ask for a review when you believe your client has had a good experience with you.
That brings us full-circle.
We as passive midwesterners have to get over our bashfulness and not be too proud to ask for reviews and referrals from our customers. There are a number of different ways we can do this including through sending a follow-up email with links to any of the preferred platforms. But more important than that review… again, is that referral from one trusted source to another, because that can lead to closed business. When we impart our positive experience on a friend, family member or colleagues, we are vouching for the experience we had with the business. That gets our business through initial vetting.
When we as a business ASK a customer or client to pass on our name to anyone they think would benefit from working with us… we are moving that idea into a more activated place in their mind. Now, when the question comes up… “Do you have a plumber you like?” Or, “Who do you use for insurance?” …they are ready to respond with that referral. Additionally, they may already know someone who they believe would be open and interested in a ‘cold referral’.