Referrals Are Here To Stay!
Updated: May 22
😲Huh, you’ve never done it?!
This is such a funny coincidence to write about since mere days ago, I sat through a “lecture” on why people shouldn’t trash talk building a business around referrals. It made me realize I had my own experience to draw from to add to this riveting conversation, and here we are.
When I first began working in Port of Spain, it was a huge transition for me, from design agency to IT company. I went from designing big budget ads for huge brands like Angostura’s Single Barrel Rum, to working with high level entrepreneurs in a much smaller way. While my previous clients were huge advocates for advertising, my current clients weren’t, yet they made tons of money all the time. So what the hell did they do? Well, they aren’t drug dealers, they are attorneys.
Before I continue, for the purpose of transparency, all original names were maintained and respective permissions granted.
There is an entire community of high-level professionals, entrepreneurs just like you and me, that unlike us can’t or don’t advertise their services.
From Wayne Sturge to Kavita Persad I’ve worked with lot of powerful lawyers and still do. So the statement that we’re deviating from a referral-based business, made me think of perhaps my most informed conversation with attorney-at-law Kavita Persad. “No, no, no” she said “I’m not allowed to advertise my services.” Coming from an agency background, this, was like using water to carry down a piece of dry bread that’s stuck in your throat without discomfort. Cross referencing all those cable ads I saw with attorneys from the US advertising their services, I enquired as to how she got work, that’s when I was introduced to the world of referrals which later on I actually got to experience myself, but we’ll get to that.
Another private practice that makes good money without ads are doctors. While I can’t speak to their restrictions, think about it, when was the last time you actually saw an ad from a doctor in Trinidad? Generally, we tend to learn about these people via referrals. Somehow, they’ve managed to etch something credible, relatable and memorable about what they do, indelibly in the minds of the right people that even the wrong people are great referral sources. You might even be one of them. Was there ever a time you referred the perfect person to someone that you weren’t a good fit for? If you said yes, that alone proves why referrals are here to stay. People are always willing to share unique information at the right time, even if they personally don’t need it.
Which brings me to my next point.
When the value of your business is understood by the right people, you get to play by different rules!
One of the most important ones being, not needing a lot of clients. Because you’re operating in a unique space, this allows you the freedom to scale your prices and work with as many or as little clients as you need. It also leaves you with a bunch of free time to spend as you please, and still be as successful as you want to be.
Doctors and lawyers do it all the time. I remember Kavita took a trip to India for months just to relax, and she was completely booked out for work when she returned because key facts about her work were planted into the clients mind; not a giant look-book.
And for those of us without advertising restrictions, we can learn a lot from this referral-based methodology by continuously focusing on figuring out where our value is positioned; being more specific about who we work with; actually solving a problem; and if we must show our work, don’t overwhelm the client, and make it about their pain points.
Mickela Panday had no look-book when she sort me out to do her visual brand. All she saw was one business card and it was enough for her to inquire about me. Why do you think that is? I won’t lie to you, building a reputation on referrals is more of a “Tortoise and Hare” race; reputation being the former and the rewards the latter. You just got to focus on doing your best work (whatever that is) with the right people, and before you know it, you will create a buzz.
So having said all of the above referrals work. It’s nothing old fashion or out of timing. In fact, it’s necessary to what industry you operate in or what service you provide. Don’t allow anyone to fool or mis-lead you. REFERRALS ARE HERE TO STAY!
I am the Founder and Visual Brand Strategist at The BrandTUB
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