In a former life, I sold cars. Yep, I know it’s hard to believe, especially when there is this weird bias about buying a car from a guy wearing a kilt. Since car sales folk usually get paid through commission and not an hourly wage (hmmm. Sound familiar?) it’s important for them to establish a customer base in any way possible. One of the tried and true best methods for this is through referrals.
Freelance writing is really no different. There are lots of marketing schemes and methods for attracting new customers, but the very best customer is one who was referred to us by a happy client. I’m telling ya, it’s money in the bank. Word of mouth is great, but it’s the best when the person who is contacted you arrived through someone they trust. Half the battle is done at that point.
Here is the key to getting referrals. It’s a complicated concept, so pay attention. Are you ready?
Ask for them! That’s it, plain and simple. When you complete a job for a client, you need to point blank ask them to refer anyone they know who may need a writer. Now, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. This pushes the comfort level for a lot of us. It seems like… Well, it seems like begging. It’s not, really. In fact if you’ve done an excellent job for a client, they are usually eager to pass their experience on to their friends and colleagues.
What I learned from the car business is that the most successful salespeople never stood on the lot, trying to flag down “tire-kickers”. They were busy all day handling folks who had been referred by their happy friends.
As an added incentive, you can even offer a finders fee for any clients they refer to you. This method works for lots of businesses and it will work for yours, too.
Along the same lines is the idea of testimonials. Statements from previous clients are powerful trust builders. They make a difference for someone considering your services over someone else. Think about all of those “Make $10,000 a Month Working From Home! sites for a minute. They are literally stuffed with statements from folks who swear by the system. Those testimonials are placed in that kind of copy in order to establish trust – the biggest hurdle for those kinds of sites.
You get testimonials the same way you get referrals – you ask for them. When the job is complete, send a survey form to the client. Ask them for permission to use their words in your advertising. You would be surprised by how many folks will be thrilled to give you a good word.
Don’t be shy about asking folks to blow your horn for you. Most of your clients will be eager to help you, and their testimonials will land you referrals that will be loyal, good customers.
Posted by: George