I’m guessing you’ve heard of the golden rule and the platinum rule. They provide a rule of thumb or practice to live by on how you treat other people. When it comes to referrals there are practices to live by as well. Which is good because having rules to live by provide us with a roadmap to follow and a context to use when we have an issue we aren’t sure how to proceed on. There are 3 principles that govern the world of referrals…the 3 Platinum Principles™.
3 Platinum Principles™
- Must be all about them
- Must be authentic to you
- Must keep you top of mind
Let’s look at each on in more detail. But first a reminder…referrals come from relationships so you have to look at each principle from that perspective. To receive more referrals, we need to be focused on developing deeper relationships with those who do refer us or could refer us. And by deeper relationship I don’t mean “let’s grab a beer every night after work.” What I mean is taking time to know your referral sources, understand what matters to them, what they need, and why they refer you.
You use the Platinum Principles to guide the decisions you make to help you create the experiences, the moments, the touch points you create for your referral sources.
Let’s dive in…
Platinum Principle #1: Must be all about them
You cannot confuse marketing, branding or promotion with referrals. While marketing, branding and promotion have their place within your business they should not impact how you structure your referral plan.
When you think about your referral sources first consider what can you do that makes it all about them? What do they need? And specifically what do they need from you. Most people who refer to you are looking to be thanked, acknowledged and in some cases educated or to be helped by you. What can you do to make the connection and relationship all about them…genuinely and authentically? Can you share knowledge about your industry that will help one of your referral sources run their business smarter? Can you give them a gift that they need and shows you know them? Like a car wash gift card to the parent of kids or pets as a way to acknowledge them and what them mean to you. Your logo’ed water bottle just won’t cut it for a referral acknowledgement.
You should always thank someone immediately after a referral is received but what I am talking about goes beyond that…meaning how do you continually make a referral experience or touch points about them.
Platinum Principle #2: Must be authentic to you
But you must balance what they need against what feels authentic to you. Meaning don’t make things you don’t want to do a part of our referral experience. This is probably best explained with an example or two.
I worked with a financial advisor on his referral plan and when we started talking about what his referral sources needed (clients and Centers of Influence) he was pretty clear on this principle. While he liked and appreciated his clients he wasn’t interested in having to spend time with them after work hours like grabbing a beer, attending dinner charity events with his clients or networking dinners. Because what was most important to him was to head home after work and be a dad, spend time with his kids. To him it was more important to be a part of his kids’ lives by throwing the ball in the front yard, coaching their sport teams and being home for dinner. It wasn’t that his referral sources weren’t important, it was just that being a dad was more important. So I would never create a plan for him that violated who he was as a person because he wouldn’t have enjoyed it and it wouldn’t have been authentic to him.
Using myself as an example – I happen to like to entertain (my poor husband). So for my clients and my referral sources I host a backyard movie event each fall. I invite my non-client referral sources to attend my client appreciation party as a way to acknowledge what they mean to my business and to give them a night out with the family where all they have to do is show up and have fun.
Platinum Principle #3: Must keep you top of mind
The final piece of platinum principles is to create touch points, experiences and moments that keep you top of mind which means you can’t do just one and consider your work done. When I build referral plans with my clients we take a 12-month approach. But that also means we don’t attempt to connect with our referral sources every month because let’s be honest…nobody has time for that. No matter how much someone loves you, nobody has time for you every single month. But keep in mind your touch points may not be face-to-face…your touch points may be something you mail, a gift, a business introduction or connection, an event you host and others. The opportunity to create experiences – moments – touch points – is endless. You just have to take some time to consider what your referral sources need and what you are willing to do.
Critically important to building a business sustained by referrals is to have a long-term view. Yes, I have had clients who receive double digit referrals in just a few months after implementing the plan and while that is awesome I am interested in something a little more sustainable. Meaning I am more interested in how many referrals you are receiving on your second, fourth and sixth year following the plan than I necessarily am in your first year. All success is incredible but a you build a referral strategy for the long-term, the long-haul. Because a business sustained by referrals makes more money, has more time and saves more money. It is a triple win you simply cannot ignore.
The 3 Platinum Principles are the foundation to making referrals work for you. Use them as a guide as you #TakeControlOfYourReferrals.
Let me know how you use the Platinum Principles to guide your referral plan and strategy. Please share in the comment section. I’m excited to hear!