5 Ways to Increase (or Get) Writing Referrals

What’s on the iPod: Song for Someone by U2

I love slow weeks after a long, busy spurt. With a project coming in next week, I’m enjoying the break. The madness should start up again soon. Until then, I’m marketing a little, writing a lot, and getting administrative stuff ticked off my list.

I’m also working on my referral plan, which is something I’ve decided to formalize. If I have a formal marketing plan, why not a formal referral plan?

And why shouldn’t you? Sure, we ask when we think about it, but what if we put some actual effort into getting solid referrals? Here are some things on my referral plan:

Attention at the outset. You may not think it matters, but customer service is your greatest tool for building referral juice. Ask questions — pointed, relevant questions — and make sure to show your client you’re focusing on their satisfaction. If you go into a meeting knowing their product, company, and management team names, you’re going to fare much better than the writer who shows up and asks “What is it you need?”

Written requests. Remember postal mail? Clients now love getting actual mail as opposed to one more email. What was old-fashioned ten years ago is now considered personal. Send your client a thank-you note for the last project (handwritten note, of course) and while you’re at it, ask them to pass your name along.

Twitter shout-outs. Thank that client who just gave you a referral — tweet your thanks and tell them publicly how much you appreciate their business. In doing so, you’ve just left a great impression with current clients and you’ve just made a potential client take notice.

Referrals for the client. You bet they’ll notice if you tell them you know someone who is perfect for their type of product/service. When you’re talking with clients, pay attention to who you know who might benefit from working with them. Then offer the referral. That makes it more of a collaborative, helpful process than a “Help me find more clients” plea.

Follow-up satisfaction check. I never finish a project without checking in one last time. However, I realize my follow-up could have more meat in it, so my new follow-ups will include a link to a survey — just three questions and space for comments/kudos/concerns. Plus, if they fill out the survey, they get a discount on their next project.

Writers, how do you increase your referrals?

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  • Anne Wayman October 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm


  • Lori Widmer October 27, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Yes! 🙂

  • Paula Hendrickson October 28, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Interesting idea for the survey. I'll be curious to hear how that goes.

  • Jake Poinier October 29, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Great points across the board, Lori. The stat I came across when researching referrals for a recent seminar presentation was that about 2/3rds of people need to be asked, and only about 25% will give a referral without prompting. So, you need to be on the lookout for those times you can give a gentle nudge.

    I'm a huge believer in the handwritten thank-you, but love the idea of tweeting thanks, too. Hadn't thought of that one, but will put that into action for someone who gave me a referral earlier this week!

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