What is Referral Marketing, exactly?
How To Get Clients Talking About You
Why Most Referral Programs Fail
How To Become A Referral Machine
Case Study: “I send them referrals and nothing comes back.”
Welcome to your copy of The Referral Marketing Kit, every financial advisor’s go-to place for building referral marketing that works.
This free kit is filled with crucial lessons, proven strategies, and guided how-to tips. There’s a lot here, but don’t skip a section! To get all the benefits from these tried and true lessons, it’s important to follow along each step of the way.
—The Blueleaf Team
1. What is Referral Marketing, exactly?
Before we get going, it’s important to understand what ‘referral marketing’ actually means.
Let’s ask Google.
It’s a “process to increase word of mouth marketing”.
Okay, then… what’s word of mouth marketing?
Okay. Referral marketing is a process to control WOMM. And controlled WOMM is direct – often paid or schemed. (#3 in above description)
Eek. This isn’t what financial advisors are after.
You don’t want to pay, scheme, or do any other form of “begging” for client referrals.
You want clients to feel so happy with your work, so comforted by your reliability, so proud to be your client that they can’t help but talk about you to their friends. That’s what we think about when we say “I want more referrals”.
In short, what every financial advisor wants is to earn referrals.
2. How To Get Clients Talking About You
We want to earn referrals, versus beg, pay or scheme for them, as the standard definition suggests. So how do you truly earn your clients’ referrals?
The only approach: Be remarkable.
Yes, it’s that simple. They’ll talk if you’re worthy of talking about. Be remarkable and they will make remarks.
Re-mark-a-ble (adj.) – worthy of attention. Antonym: ordinary.
So are you remarkable?
The first step to ensure you’re truly ‘remarkable’ and worthy of their referrals is to closely define what makes you awesome. What makes you different. Why people would talk.
To figure out how YOU are remarkable, here’s a crucial excerpt from our ebook on ‘How To Stand Out From The Crowd’.
Here is the example survey, as referenced in the above passage.
Perform your differentiation exploration (as outlined in the excerpt). Then physically write down the one or two hyper-specific things that make you different from anyone else. Tape this piece of paper to your wall. Write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer monitor. This is what makes your business remarkable. This is what will get you word of mouth referrals.
Next: Communicate this with clients and prospects. Infuse this focus in the messaging throughout your business and in real-time conversations with people.
We suggest learning from other advisors who do this well. Check out these two all-star differentiation examples from our Blueleaf advisor community.
They’ve clearly identified who they serve best, and stick with it. When someone needs “financial advice from someone who understands [someone like me]”, they have positioned themselves as the expert for that person. (Think back to the cardiologist.)
» Sophia Bera, a contributor on the Blueleaf Blog, is GenY Planning.
» Dave Grant, a Blueleaf customer, is Finance For Teachers.
Pretty straight-forward, right? Using clear language to describe your targeted expertise works wonders in making you a specialist.
Follow the lead of Sophia and Dave – you’ll really begin to differentiate yourself. People will visit your site and understand what you can do for them with clarity. You’ll position yourself as ‘the best cardiologist’ for their needs.
And remember: the best cardiologist is the one who gets referrals.
Once it’s completely integrated into your brand, the next step is to leverage this differentiation strategy with an automated relationship nurturing processes to proactively engage clients and prospects. This puts you in control of getting your message out, versus passively waiting for people to come to your site, blog, etc. To do this efficiently, we highly recommend creating automated email campaigns.
→ KIT BONUS! You get access to ‘How To Automate Referrals’ as a bonus for downloading The Referral Kit! Enjoy.
3. Why Most Referral Marketing Fails
Let’s look at the definition of referral marketing again.
Referral marketing is defined as a process to increase word of mouth marketing (which we just walked through).
What we didn’t address was the word “process”.
Process suggests control, predictability and the ability to repeat for similar result. This isn’t what we currently have in our referrals experience. They feel out of our control and unpredictable. Even worse, we don’t have a repeatable process to drive these controlled results.
Client referrals are great, but they are extremely difficult to predict and replicate. This is where most referral marketing programs fail. Many financial advisors are of the mindset that they can rely solely on word of mouth client referrals. But this isn’t a predictable, repeatable process.
Client referrals are nice when they happen, but they’re not enough.
To fill this “process” gap, become a COI.
(No, “COI” isn’t another certification to put at the end of your name on a business card. It’s a state of being. It’s an opportunity to leverage the people around you to drive exponential referrals to your business.)
4. How To Become A Referral Machine
The second, more powerful form of referral marketing: Center of Influence (COI).
This is how you’ll become a well-oiled, efficient referral machine.
What is a COI Referral? Center of influence referrals are when another professional, such as an attorney or accountant, introduces you to their client or friend.
We talked about how financial advisors can master the art of COI Referrals in “Why Referral Marketing Failed You and How To Fix It”, and have added it all to this kit!
Absorb the strategy…
Pretty powerful stuff.
[That next section, “Nurturing – Tools of the Trade”, explains how automated data sharing helps advisors collect COI referrals from other professionals in an incredibly powerful way. Go to “COI Marketing for Advisors Made Simple” to see how. There’s a video there, too.]
5. Case Study
When that COI Referrals Guide first launched, advisors went crazy for it.
We received countless messages – “Thanks, this approach is kickass. I’m sold.” It was awesome.
But then we got an email from an advisor friend in our Blueleaf community, initials RD, which said:
“My concern is how to find accountants who are interested in sharing clients – ideas on how to find these guys? My experience so far is it is a one way street – I send clients to them and nothing comes back.”
This inquiry made it’s way to John, Blueleaf CEO, and you get to see the convo today:
The real question here isn’t “How can I get referrals from this accountant?” The real question is “How can I work with other professionals to leverage their networks to grow my business?” It’s a bigger question with many more opportunities to grow your business.
A referral in this context is just one way another professional can benefit you. If they’ve got an engaged list of 5,000 potential clients which they give you access to and that generates 3 new clients. That’s 3x the value of a single referral.
We welcome you to join the conversation about ‘making COI referrals work’ here on the blog.
6. Final Recap:
Let’s do a general recap…
Referral marketing is the process of increasing word of mouth marketing.
• To Increase WOM: Be remarkable. Be different. (But really… be the best cardiologist.)
• To Have a Process: Be a COI. Be incredibly helpful & incredibly easy to work with.
This kit is always here for you. Get access to the instructions and resources you need to build a powerful referral marketing program anytime you want – Bookmark this page to refer back!
7. Additional Resources:
» Give clients a tool they’ll tell friends about.
In the COI section above we described how automated data sharing via the Blueleaf Sharing feature is used as a backbone for financial advisor center of influence. Never before has client data sharing been so incredibly easy and seamless. But there’s more. As a Blueleaf user, you’ll give clients a beautiful, state-of-the-art online portal, branded with your name, logo and automatically updated data. We automate the way advisors deliver performance reporting, and do it in a way clients actually understand. Not a user? Try it Free! You’ll see… Blueleaf makes you look good. [Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org]
» Differentiation attracts referrals everywhere you go.
» Being remarkable can earn you billions.