Dear Danielle: How Do I Advertise for Referral Partners?

Dear Danielle: How Do I Advertise for Referral Partners?

Dear Danielle:

I am new at publishing e-newletters and blogs, however, I know these are great tools to get the word out about my company and to attract new clients.  I plan to create a monthly e-newsletter and I want to be able to add great news about my referral partners. However, I want to know what is the best way to get the word out that I am looking for referral partners. Should I add it to my website or make a note in my e-newsletters.  I have already signed up to your affiliate program and will be adding the link to my website and newsletter etc.  Thanks for your advice.  –GD

I think that’s a terrific idea to spotlight your referral partners in your blog and ezine!

Because if you’re going to be referral partners with someone, it’s the “partner-y” thing to do to actively promote them in the same way you’d like them to promote you.

So often we see folks becoming referral partners and it becomes a one-way street with one person doing all the referring and the other person not making an equal effort.

That’s not cool, and if that’s the case, they don’t deserve to be referral partners with you. What they fail to understand is that one of the best ways to get referrals is to give them.

For those who don’t know what we’re talking about, a referral partner is someone in the same or similar business or a complementary field that you refer business to and vice versa.

There a lot of reasons you would refer business to someone else:

  • It could be because your practice is full.
  • It could be the client just isn’t your cup of tea, but might be perfect for that other person.
  • It might be that the client is seeking a service that you don’t offer.
  • Or it might be because you like to be a resource to your current clients whenever they seek services that aren’t related to what you’re in business to do.

Printshops offer a good example of the complementary referral relationship. They always know of several designers and photographers they can refer their customers to.

They’re all in different kinds of businesses, but their work is related and share the same or similar markets. So they complement each other in that way.

It makes perfect sense to refer to each other, and being a resource who can refer others and make qualified recommendations is huge help to their clients and customers.

Referral partnering is an informal, but intentional, relationship where one business owner approaches another and says, “Hey, I think you’re awesome and you do great work. If you feel the same about me, let’s refer clients to each other when those opportunities arise. Maybe we can even meet once a month or so to brainstorm more ideas on how we can cross-promote and refer business to each other.”

Now while I think it’s absolutely wonderful to promote your referral partners whenever you have the chance, I do have a few thoughts about the rest of your question.

First, I don’t know that I would necessarily advertise for referral partners.

That is, if I advertised for referral partners, do I really want to receive what might be tons of emails to wade through and create for myself the extra work and burden of basically interviewing people?

And second, how substantive and authentic would it be for me to refer to folks I really don’t know much about or have actual experience with?

I would prefer to find and nurture those relationships more organically, and selectively choose or approach potential referral partners based on the fact that I’ve developed a relationship and gotten to know them to some good extent over a period of time.

I don’t want to just have people I can refer to. I want to refer to people whose talents, work and reputation I have absolute confidence in and will be a good reflection on the recommendations I give.

A disingenuous, unsubstantive referral is not helpful to anyone. I want my word to mean something.

One last thought, while you are helping give back to your referral buddies, think about also devoting a separate space or blurb about what makes an ideal client referral for you.

Those who are reading your blog and ezine might not be ready to work with you, but they might know of someone who is. So make it super clear who you are specifically looking to work with and want referred to you (i.e., your target market and ideal client).

The more clear and specific you are, the easier you make it for people to refer to you and the more often they will do so.

Originally posted September 29, 2010.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Danielle.. First I want to say thanks to GD for asking such as great question. I had plans on “Adverting” for Referral partners as well. I have two questions, how would you go about getting to know the person you will become a referral partner with and how detail should we be on our blog/ezine about what type of “ideal client” we would like to be refer to us? Thanks Danielle G

  2. You get to know people like you would anything else–by getting involved with groups and interacting with folks.

    When you participate in various online and/or in-person business and industry forums, listservs, organizations, events, etc., you begin to recognize and get to know certain people after awhile. You’re naturalling going to be drawn to those who share similar values and sensibilities, and you’ll begin to notice stand-outs based on the advice they share and the business sense they demonstrate.

    To be clear, a target market and ideal client are two separate things. They aren’t one and the same. A target market is the specific industry/profession/field that your ideal client works in.

    Your ideal client profile, on the other hand, is a composite of all the various characteristics and demographics that make up the specific kind of person you work best with. That could include gender, personality type, workstyle type, income… any number of specific personal qualities.

    While you’re adding to your ideal client profile, start an UN-ideal client profile as well and begin to list the traits and red-flags that alert you when someone is not a fit. This is an exercise in getting clear what what you want and what you don’t want in your business.

    As far as how much detail to put in the description of the kind of client you want referred to you, the more specific, the better. Not only will this make it easier for you to market and have direction for your efforts, but you make it easier for people to remember who and how to refer to you.

    Generalities are never, ever helpful or memorable.

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