We’ve written numerous marketing plans for clients over the past few years, most of which were working in professional services industries. These clients relied heavily on referrals and testimonials to land new clients of their own. The question for all of our clients, however, was how to create a regular stream of those referrals?
Below are four marketing tactics that have worked for all the clients we’ve suggested these for. Details will vary, based on your particular industry, your client base, company’s expertise, and where you are in your career (i.e. start-up versus an established company.)
Hosting Open Houses or Happy Hours
Open houses or happy hours are an excellent, low-key way to interact with some of your best clients and their plus-ones. Think about it – twice a year, you host an event with a few drinks and food, and ask 15 of your best clients to bring someone they think might enjoy meeting you. Keep it short – usually about 90 minutes, and make sure your food/drinks are top-notch. Put out a business card drop bowl for a free consultation (or service related to what you do) and pick up leads in a casual, relaxing atmosphere.
Feature Your Top Clients
Everybody likes a little bit of spotlight! Whether you’re giving your clients a regular shoutout via social media or featuring them in a whitepaper/case studies, the fact that you’re thinking about them and value your relationship enough to broadcast it goes a long way. Make sure that when you do promote them, you tell them in advance. Besides appreciating a heads up, often times they like to relay updates about their company or plan to promote your spotlights themselves.
Get in Front of an Audience
Of the tactics listed here, this is the hardest to accomplish but by no means is it impossible. Think about something of value that you can bring to an industry you specialize in, then pitch the speaking idea to trade groups. Host Lunch ‘n Learns and share/speak to a particular topic that teaches your audience something new. Offer a paid training workshop to a mix of past and current clients, then offer further information or some other “behind the curtain” item for an additional small fee. The hospitality industry isn’t the only place one can upsell!
Simply Say Hello
The power of simply reaching out every so often to say hello and check in is often one of the most overlooked tactics a company can employ. We had a client who captured all of their client’s birthdays and anniversaries, then when those dates would come around, he would mail them a handwritten card with a sweet note acknowledging them. No sales, no “Let’s get together!” – just a note touching base. Look back at the clients you’ve worked with over the past year and pick three or five to reach out to – you might just be touching base at the perfect time for a referral or more project work!
Plan Your Next Tactic
The ideas above are just a small sampling of tactics your company can employ to keep referrals coming and capture new clients. At Helm & Hue, we routinely help our clients identify their marketing objectives and strategies, then formulate boots-on-the-ground tactics to help them implement their plans. If you’re looking for help developing your own marketing road map, drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you!