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Referral Marketing – Long Live the Extra Mile

Please imagine the following two fictional stories in which you were a participant and answer the subsequent question after reading these stories.

  1. A few days ago, you went to a restaurant with friends. The food was served within 15 minutes of ordering, and it tasted as good as it always does during your restaurant visits. The waitress was friendly and attentive as usual, regularly checking in on your table to offer further orders. Since you were a frequent guest at this restaurant, they served you a complimentary digestif at the end. Satisfied with the gathering of friends and the restaurant choice, you headed home.
  2. Almost two weeks ago, you went to a restaurant by a forest pond with your family. The menu featured seasonal dishes, including venison and wild boar. While your family opted for veal medallions, you were craving game and ordered venison with red cabbage, dumplings, and red wine sauce. As expected, the preparation took 25 minutes. The wait was worth it, and everyone enjoyed their meal. After settling the bill, the waitress handed you two paper rolls tied with ribbons and asked you to open them. Surprised, you unrolled the paper and were amazed to find the “secret recipes” of your dishes in your hands.

My question to you is: Which story would you spontaneously and without prompting tell your friends and acquaintances?

It is evident that we talk about things and events that have surprised us.

The same applies to B2B business. If the customer receives the expected service, they may be satisfied, but they will not talk to decision-makers from other companies about their satisfaction.

Especially in industries with comparable and interchangeable offerings, finding a unique selling proposition is essential to convey your company’s distinctiveness to customers. Companies must ensure that they go the extra mile for their customers and inspire them through exceptional service.

While customer loyalty measures were discussed ten years ago, companies today need to take actions to amaze their customers.

What an advertising customer can only receive from you and not from any other advertising medium is you as a direct contact. In this book, I have spoken in detail about the need to build trust. The customer must think, “I believe in your communication solution because I believe in you.”

Referral marketing is one of the most effective and cost-effective measures for acquiring new customers because customers engage in positive conversations about products and services with other people.

Why is referral marketing so effective?

The reason lies in the high credibility of this positive exchange. The report of an affected person far exceeds the credibility of self-promotion. After all, the person has used the product or service themselves. Additionally, conveying positive experiences enhances the company’s emotional image.

As described earlier, the prerequisite for word-of-mouth is customer enthusiasm. Examine your personal customer base to identify which decision-makers you have truly impressed with your offerings and resulting advertising impact. Then, ask them for referrals.

Based on my personal sales experience, only a few enthusiastic decision-makers spontaneously speak to other companies about their successes without my request for referrals.

My request for referrals proves successful when the customer receives something in return from me in a quid pro quo manner.

Here, within the compliance guidelines of many companies, it is not about a personal gift but rather additional services for future orders or a discount on their next order if the referral leads to a contract.

Are you familiar with the law of reciprocity?

It is the law of reciprocity. In other words, it is about “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” in a positive sense. In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” American author and psychologist Robert B. Cialdini describes the six principles of persuasion. One of these principles is reciprocity (Cialdini 2009). People feel the desire to reciprocate when they receive something good from others. Humans need harmony to feel comfortable. When you do something good for someone, whether it’s a gift or important information, the recipient’s sense of harmony is at stake.

Just think of harmony as an old apothecary scale. You are probably familiar with the two weighing pans, one with the powder and the other with the small weights to balance and equalise both sides. Similarly, you can imagine the scale when you give someone a gift: the pan with the gift is tilted down, and the other pan is empty. There is an imbalance, a disharmony. Now the recipient feels an inner obligation and may invite you for a beer at the local pub to restore the balance of the scale. The result: the weighing pans are in balance again.

However, the desire to reciprocate diminishes over time. So, if you have delighted the customer with your communication solution, you should promptly ask for referrals.

You might think that the current situation is balanced, with the service (advertising solution) and the compensation (payment) in equilibrium.

When you have gone the extra mile in terms of consultation and service for the customer, they perceive it as added value. The scale is slightly tilted to the left. This added value is also enriched with the joy of success. Is there a better time to restore the balance of inner harmony? Probably not.

To be continued…


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