How to get loads of referrals (and clients!) regardless of how much you charge

I recently went to a new dentists’ office and I realized that many client-based businesses have no clue how to provide mind-blowing client-focused experiences that drive referrals, the way this one was. I wrote this article to help you understand how to get referrals fast.

How to get referrals

A couple of months ago, I scheduled an appointment at one of my local dentists’ offices. Even though I had dental insurance that could cover a simple cleaning (I was still working at my marketing agency at the time), I opted for a luxury* dental office that had a special new-client appointment for $149. It was amazing they even used the best water flosser.

Before you deem me stupid for making that decision, let me explain.

My previous dental experiences were shudder-worthy. I grew up in small town in Poland, where anesthetic was as commonly used as rain boots in a desert. Aka, not a whole lot at all.

Dreadfully awaiting my upcoming check-up, I realized I’ll never change my view of dentists unless I have some kind of a profoundly good experience to offset the bad ones I’ve had in the past. What better way to do that than with a luxury dental office that promises a wonderful experience and has the prices to match?

Still, I had no idea what to expect.

On the day of my appointment I nervously stepped into the office half-debating whether I should just turn right back around and sprint out there – back into the safety of my cozy apartment. But what actually happened… surprised me.

“Good afternoon, Kamila. We’re so happy to see you here! We’ve prepared just a little bit of paperwork for you, but why don’t you enjoy a bottle of Vitamin Water or something else out of the fridge as you wait?”

Um… woah!? How did she know my name? I literally just walked in! Is she psychic!?

Stunned, I grab the papers from the warm receptionist and mutter a grateful “ Thank you.” Since I had already filled out some basic paperwork earlier, I only had a few questions to ask about my history plus my comfort level with dentists in general.

That was unexpected.

It’s like… they know people might be afraid? I dig that. Reading the audience insights, I’m sure. These guys know their audience!

actual picture of the dental office, small yet comforting
actual picture of the dental office, small yet comforting

As I awaited my turn, I flipped through magazines while watching to E! News absent-mindedly for a few minutes before being called into the office. I stood up shakily.

“This is it!,” I thought to myself.

I realize now how ridiculous this sounds but when your earliest memory as a child is of a scary white-haired dentist lady yelling at you to stop crying, holding you down, as she drilled into your teeth (again, no anesthetic), that shit haunts you just a little bit. (Okay, maybe not THE first memory, but you get the idea).

I stepped into the room. Well-lit and warm. I eased onto a cushioned recliner (or whatever you call those chairs) and began answering some basic questions in regards to my visit.

Talking turned to jokes and I instantly felt more at ease.

To generate referrals easily, create mind-blowing client-focused experiences in your biz. (click to tweettwitter-icon

That, plus the softness of the chair, plus the personal TV hanging above me with noise-cancelling headphones ready to be used if necessary, were making me feel even better with my decision to come here.

The dentist came in, all smiles, and we began the exam. Before the end of the visit, and him telling me, “Listen, I’d only tell you what I would tell my sister in terms of recommendations. Here’s what we can do…” and “I know you’re nervous about dental appointments, so we’ll make sure you don’t feel anything and your experience is as enjoyable as possible.”

… I was in love.

Upon my departure, I was gifted a sugar-free freshly baked cookie, along with several toothbrushes, toothpastes, and mouthwashes to boot.

Even though I was to come back very soon, I candidly realized my anxiety was gone. I felt.. good. I felt at ease. And I couldn’t wait to tell my family and my friends about this place and how well I was treated.

This also made me realize how few client-based businesses put the emphasis on the client by creating mind-blowing experiences that lead to referrals and 5-star ratings all around.

I realize not everyone can afford to be a luxury provider, but there are still many things you can do to bump up the “This is fuckin’ awesomeee!” factor.

1. Understand your target audience.

I’m not even asking you to do a full-on ideal client profile, I just ask that you understand your target customers so you can cater your services to them. What would prevent them from becoming a client? Do they have any deep fears around your industry? Distrust? Anxiety? Skepticism?

What are the main reasons for their reluctance to buy? Address these things and then make their experience so lusciously sweet that they forgot they were ever worried in the first place.

That’s a great client experience!

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2. Underpromise and overdeliver.

So many newer enterpreneurs focus on selling allll the features included in a package.

“You get 3 calls for 47 minutes each, plus 10 emails per week, plus a weekly lesson that takes 5 minutes to read! Yay!”

Who cares?

First of all: how boring and stuffy is that?

Secondly: when you’re that damn specific it’s pretty obvious you’re detailed oriented. Which is good, cause ya know, you’re reliable I guess and probably do impeccably great work, but what if something happens and I need an extra call? Or I need to send one more email? Or don’t know what to do with something? Will I not get my answers??? Wah!

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But that’s not really the issue here. The issue is that you are probably delivering them that and just that. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to create a WOW experience that brings you loads of referrals and happy clients who gush about you all over social media, you’re gonna need to do a bit more than that.

Repeat after me: I WILL ALWAYS UNDERPROMISE AND OVERDELIVER.

What does this mean? Simple. People sign up for something. You surprise them with something else on top of it. Unannounced. Extra. Fun. Ideally, more than once.

Always UNDERpromise and OVERdeliver. This is the key to your clients’ hearts and loads of referrals. (click to tweettwitter-icon

Quick story time:

About a year ago, I was flying to Vegas for a client’s conference I was speaking at. It was my first time flying Southwest Airlines. On my way to Vegas, we found out it was someone’s birthday. I think it was a lady turning 75 or something. So once we landed, the flight attendants asked us all to turn on our overhead lights as we sang happy birthday and and turn them off at the same time to pretend she was blowing out “the candles.” It was soo freaking rad!

And then on the way back to Chicago, a couple had just gotten married and Southwest had everyone wish them congratulations once we boarded the plane and gave them a complimentary bottle of champagne. Um, how kind and amazing is that?

It’s now my favorite airline ever. And I’m not the only one who has that opinion of them.

Southwest

Overdelivering makes clients happy. And that makes you happy. Annnddd that makes ME happy! We can all be happy!

What happens when a client is pleasantly surprised? Referrals, baby.

3. Do something differently

This might not come as a surprise but people remember things that are different. So when making an impression on someone that lasts, you probably did something that was either different, very pleasant, or very unpleasant. If you do the 2 elements above, you are doing things that will make your client happy (aka make the experience pleasant).

Now, let’s make you memorable. Let’s make the experience different.

Does it have to be super-unique-never-heard-before-first-ever? Absolutely not.

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But think about your industry, think about your brand, and decide on how you want to leverage that. This is obviously a bigger conversion when it comes to branding than anything else but really stay true to your brand. That’s how you can differentiate yourself. Because when your branding is on point, you know you can become memorable fairly easily. (PS. Let me know if you need help with that, happy to help as we work through your overall marketing & business goals)

4. Go the extra mile

What can you do to make your client’s experience better even once they’re done with your session? Is it that you want to send them a nice follow-up email with the notes? Provide them extra resources they haven’t asked for but you know they could use?

Maybe it’s a birthday note? A sweet email that says congratulations on your new baby? Or, if you’re too busy and have too many clients to be able to keep up on their personal stuff, just a warm note that asks them how they’ve been doing.

Sure, it can be great for your client retention (clients may come back because you reminded them of you!) but they may also simply smile and be truly grateful you care. 
Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 10.39.35 PM copy

Or maybe it’s simply doing some extra for a client that they didn’t expect. I don’t even mean overdelivering but just simply BEING there and showing that you care. Wouldn’t YOU want someone you hire to do that for you too?

Screen-Shot-2015-10-13-at-10.43.40-PM

Now my action steps for you to take today are as follows…

Are you ready?

Action Steps:

  1. Think about some experiences you had in the last few years as a client or customer that made you really happy, pleasantly surprised, or inclined to tell all your friends.
  2. What was it about that experience that made it so special? Why was this particular experience better than other similar experiences you’ve had in the past?
  3. Think about your business: What are you doing now for your clients and customers where you can add a little extra WOW factor to make them pleasantly surprised? List out a few things.
  4. Commit to implementing one of those things this week.

Wishing you loads of new referrals!

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(* they didn’t advertise themselves as luxury but their website and copy made it clear that’s the vibe they’re going for)
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