Referral Marketing: Are You Engaged?
Make sure you're in the right gear ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 14/09/2016 @ 8:00AM
I met with one of my referral partners Andy Mee, from Business Doctors this week. We're planning to run a joint seminar together on the subject of leadership and engaging others in your plans for your business ...
When you begin a new referral marketing relationship, you have to start in 1st gear!
copyright: everythingpossible / 123rf stock photo
Engagement is a term bandied around at lot at present in both marketing and management. Many articles and talks are about 'staff engagement' and when marketing on-line we're exhorted to stop just broadcasting on-line and shift to 'engaging' with our customers or potential customers.
"I'm completely up for that!"
The trouble is, what I see in reality increasingly looks like broadcasting, but with even more fervour. Staff surveys abound yet Andy informs me that recent research shows over 80% of people are not engaged in the business they work in.
As for marketing, pop-up ads on subjects someone thinks will interest me simply drives me crackers when I'm looking on-line for something completely different.
Everyone seems to be looking for a way to automate 'engagement' with me and make it look like they care about me. As I fully understand, I'm not unique, so if this is driving me crackers it's also driving others crackers too!
"What do we really mean when we talk about engagement?"
I went back to the dictionary and found, comfortingly, that when applied to referral marketing the term resonated with what we advocate. In essence, engagement means undertaking activities that bring people or things together with a shared commitment to a common outcome.
I then got interested in how we apply the word in differing ways. It can be an agreement or pledge to so something together at a set time. For instance something as simple as meet for dinner or as committed as a promise to marry. So in a referral relationship we make agreements to meet and later commit to introduce each other.
To be engaging means to hold someone's attention and interest and equally to be engaged means to be attentive and interested. If we want a productive relationship, it pays us to take actions that are of interest to the other person and to sustain that interest over time. This means spending time really getting to know each other's like, dislikes, what they do and what they want.
Engagement is also the process of directing both parties towards an outcome. The example of this in the dictionary was of two armies engaging in battle. No quite the metaphor I'd use though a little license with military strategy can turn this into engaging your referral partner in a joint campaign, for example, the joint seminar I'm planning with Andy that prompted this blog post.
Away from the world of human interactions we use the term when driving when we talk about engaging the gears. We engage the right gear for the conditions we're facing and the work we want our engine to do.
"If you've read many of my blog posts, you'll know I love using metaphors to describe an idea!"
It struck me that to get your contacts to the point of becoming referral partners is a journey of increasing alignment between what you both want to achieve. So engaging the correct gear for the stage of your relationship and to navigate the hills, valleys and bends along the way will make the journey smoother:
When we start our referral marketing relationship we need to engage first gear. The engine needs a lot of force to get you started and it's the same with your new relationship. Short, high energy interactions with attention on first impressions are the first stage of your relationship.
A short comment on social media, a 10-minute conversation at an event, a first telephone conversation from an introduction. Not the time to go into long details on every aspect of your business and over rev the engine or too little and letting the engine stall. Just enough to spark interest and a wish to meet or talk again.
The middle gears are the transition of increasing collaborative activities paying attention to the engine to know when to move up or down a gear. In building your activities give considerations to the other person's pressure, concerns and needs and align your actions to the speed of their engine.
The idea is to get your relationship up into fifth gear and onwards to cruise control. In your referral marketing relationship when this happens it all gets a lot easier, your relationship and assisting each other just happens without a lot of effort and you have time to focus on other things. This will take time so avoid the jump from first to 5th gear. Have you ever tried it in your car?
So the last point before I stretch the metaphor too far is this. Even when on cruise control, stay engaged and pay attention as you never know what might be just around that next bend.
If you're interested in learning more about building referral marketing relationships, and probably hearing more metaphors, call me on 07970 638857 or click here to send me an email enquiry and let's see how I can help you.
Until next time ...
More about Jacky Sherman ...
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
What a fantastic way to earn a living!
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