Remarkable referrals: Some ideas about how to attract the most profitable new clients

Never underestimate the importance of collaboration in winning — and retaining — opportunities

There’s no secret that referrals — word-of-mouth — are the most important marketing opportunity for virtually all architecture, engineering and construction businesses. We can see this from the ongoing Construction Marketing Ideas business source poll: 42 per cent of this blog’s readers say they attract most of their business through word of mouth and recommendations. (The second significant source of business, not surprisingly, is from repeat clients, at 29 per cent, bringing the overall repeat/referral business volume to 71 per cent.)

These facts lead to two important questions:

  1. Do you have a systematized and high-priority system to develop, manage, and nurture repeat and referral business (and encourage existing clients to return for more)?
  2. Are you measuring the system’s success?
  3. Are you using these measurements to test and introduce enhancements and improvements to add to your repeat/referral volume and profitability?

If you have no processes in place to answer these questions, I encourage you to take a few minutes to give these thoughts your highest priority.

Bruce Johnson says the first place is to consider “remarkability”. ?If you are ordinary, you’ll have ordinary success; if you can somehow break beyond the bonds of normalcy, you’ll achieve?exponentially more effective results.

Think through the companies or businesses you?ve referred people to lately. How many of them were just ordinary or average? Hopefully, none of them. When you go to an ordinary restaurant and have an ordinary meal with an ordinary experience, do you ever refer a friend or colleague to go there? Not a chance (unless, of course, you don?t like them :-).

You only refer when you?ve had a remarkable experience. For example, if you haven?t read my review of Halls Chophouse and their customer service, you should. Halls is a remarkable restaurant with remarkable service. So when someone from out-of-town emails me and asks, ?Where should I go for dinner?? Halls is one of the restaurants at the top of my list.

Note: we have a lot of great restaurants here in Charleston, SC so it?s easy to give someone a list. It?s also one of the reasons why Charleston has won, for the past four years, the Conde Nast Readers Survey as, ?The Top Destination City in the US.?

Bottom line, if you want to generate more referrals, I?d recommend that your starting place is making sure that you?re referrable (i.e. that what you offer is remarkable). If what you offer isn?t remarkable (i.e. it?s similar to what others offer) then your system will break down before it?s even started. To get more referrals, you have to be referrable (i.e. more remarkable).

So, are your products and services, your people, your offers, and the experience clients have with you remarkable or not? If not, you know where to start.

He adds these other points/recommendations:

Provide marketing collateral/resources for your referral clients

It is much easier to refer when you have resources/documentation to share.

Be consistent in your referral systems

See above regarding measurement, testing and re-evaluating your processes. You should have a baseline level and constantly seek to improve it.

Have your referring client make the introduction

It is much more effective when the “word of mouth” comes from the person making the referral, rather than you saying that someone had referred you.

Remember, you can go beyond a single referral — so you want to encourage your referring clients to refer more.

“Thank you”initiatives are often helpful; recognizing and rewarding your top referrers will induce them to refer more.

If you follow the suggestions in this posting, and nothing else, you should be able to achieve the biggest portion of your marketing objectives in the shortest time, at the lowest cost. That’s a strong statement, but consider the fact that every cent or hour you spend on a referral/repeat client initiative has a baked in advantage over any other form of marketing you can do.

Please share your thoughts here with me or others (through social media links). If you wish, you can comment by email to or with the blog comment form below. I really appreciate hearing from you.

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