3 reasons people do business with you
The age-old question for business owners is how do I get more customers?
Marketing can feel daunting as there are so many options and tools out there. But I like to keep things simple and old school. I’ve found there are three main reasons why people choose one business over another, especially in professional services: 1) they like you, 2) you were referred by a trusted source, and 3) you’re considered an expert in your industry. It worked for me starting out in business 20 years ago, and it still works today.
1/ They like you
Business owners often ask me how often they should 'do' marketing. You are always marketing. Every time you meet someone, whether at the gym, the bar, or a barbie, you are building your personal brand and representing your business. (But, critically, selling should only happen back at the office, otherwise you can come across as "that guy".)
Never underestimate the power of simply being friendly and engaging. Ask people questions, and be genuinely interested in their answers.
When The Practice first opened its doors, our personalities and sheer enthusiasm were all that could win us work. We certainly couldn’t point to our experience and expertise, or our stable of satisfied customers. So we bought from local businesses to develop a relationship with them, and often just visited (annoyed) them in the hope they would give us a shot.
We talked to everyone and went out of our way to show an interest in what they were up to. It's a great way to show you're different from your competitors.
2/ You were referred by a trusted source
Referrals are by far the most powerful (as well as the easiest and cheapest) way to win business. If their friend says you’re great, a potential customer will want things to work out with you - they'll even cut you some slack if their experience with you isn't perfect. if
Referrals hinge on you providing an amazing customer experience that goes above and beyond what’s expected, so they feel compelled to tell others.
How to get more referrals
The most effective way is also the simplest: ask. This is often easier said than done for many business owners, as it feels too salesy or pushy. But here's a simple tip that works a treat: embed it into your engagement process.
Rather than lamely asking the person to refer us business at the end of a meeting, our team instead say this (adding “I have to ask, it’s part of the process”): If you’re happy with the work we do, and you know someone who might benefit from working with us, please consider telling them about us. People are really responsive to this up-front request - most want to help out if they can.
Tip: stop saying "I'm busy" when talking to customers - it can put them off 'hassling' you with a referral.
3/ You’re considered an expert in your industry
This third point is the hardest. How do you become an expert? One way is to convey your thought leadership by getting published. This can take many forms: blog, e-book, special report, article, printed book. This enables you to give value to prospects while they get to know you (and hopefully like and trust you). All before you’ve even met. As a bonus, the content you produce will help you win speaking, media and PR opportunities.
I'd love to hear your tips for attracting customers... hit me up!