Everyone knows that referrals are the most powerful way to gain new business. However, many great referrals are never given – or received – because the words can’t escape.
Let’s take an example – a real one. I was talking to my friend Alli Worthington a few months back, and we both recognized that she has a bit of a marketing-positioning problem. She does so many things, it’s difficult to concisely express what her “sweet spot” is. In fact, I was struggling to know when (and to whom) to refer her, although I knew she did great work.
Sound familiar to you? Too many bullet points, not a clear enough message? Extremely common problem for consultants and start-ups (and for plenty of other businesses, by the way!)
As we talked, it became clear that Alli was great at coming alongside entrepreneurs and start-ups, and helping them reach the next level, especially with marketing (and particularly with digital tools). The imagery that seemed to fit best was one of helping people take flight – she plays the role of flight instructor, co-pilot, and ground control, helping people master the myriad of things needed to lift off from the runway and stay aloft. Hands-on coaching. Get it flying. Then, her work is done.
Now, it became totally clear who her target audience is. Referring Alli is easy, because the sweet spot and keywords are identified, and some compelling imagery illustrates her role.
Business clarity means having a well-defined offering, for a well-defined audience, accompanied by a well-defined (brief and memorable) message. It’s saying, “Here is my place!” With clarity, you can give out a verbal business card that unlocks referrals – because people know (and can articulate to others) precisely what place in the market is yours.
But here’s the other wonderful thing that having clarity does. It unlocks YOUR capacity to GIVE referrals.
Now that you’ve defined your niche, you’re no longer scrambling for all sorts of business that may or may not be in your sweet spot (The Tyranny of Revenue). And this liberates you to collaborate much more widely with other providers whom you now no longer need to view as competitors. I love talking to clients, hearing about a need that I’d really rather not try to meet (even if I potentially could), and handing off that business to one of my collaborative referral partners. Everybody wins – and the more people you are referring in to their “sweet spot” business, the more referrals you will receive from your clients and collaborators.
Some people will say that this sounds Pollyanna-ish. Nope. I’ve been operating this business model for over 7 years, building up a referral network in which, as a connection agent, I earn referral fees for bringing together clients and providers. But it all starts with clarity – knowing where you and your collaborative partners do your best work.
Doing great work will, hopefully, lead to referrals. But add a clear verbal business card and you’ll get that many more handoffs. If people don’t possess the right words to use with the right people, your best referrals may remain locked up.
That’s why clarity is…well, key!