Monday, February 15, 2010

Referral Marketing: Character and Competency More Important Than Customer Experience

This is a very interesting article I found on the blog of Evan Misner, founder of the BNI, and expert in referral marketing.

just finished a survey of more than 12,000 businesspeople from all around the world on the subject of networking. One of the questions we asked the respondents was “Which of the following is most important to you when referring business to others?” The choices were:

  • Knowing a person’s character.
  • Knowing a person’s level of competency.
  • Using the person’s product or service myself.
  • Knowing a person’s success.

Not surprisingly, “knowing a person’s character” ranked No. 1 in the survey. Interestingly, “using the product or service myself” ranked third out of the four choices! This is important to understand when building your own personal network of people referring you because it shows that people are definitely looking at more than just the quality of your products and services when they think about referring you to other people.
Often, we think that the best source of referrals must be our clients, customers or patients. Although they definitely are a good source, they are not our only source. In fact, based on this survey, personally using and experiencing another person’s product or services before referring business to that person was not as important to the respondents as other factors.
What this means to you is–you need to build your credibility with people who know you (whether they’ve used your business or not). If people trust your character and competency, they are likely to refer you regardless of whether they’ve actually used your products or services.

Now if you are considering a customer relationship management point of view, this study is very interesting. Indeed, maybe your best lead of prospects might not be your actual clients, but some people that have had a good impression after a commercial, or visiting your website. And you must take advantage of this feeling, this state of mood, to drive the buzz or so. This might be actually the reason why so many companies are interested by buzz marketing campaigns, to spread the word of mouth.

That also shows that branding, and especially the story that you tell people about your brand, is a valuable asset, that might trigger people to become your customers.

What do you think about it?