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When I have polled small business owners in the past no fewer than 95% of them say that “word of mouth” advertising and referrals are their best source of leads. They also typically say that they want to get more referrals because they are the easiest to do business with.

That is a great statistic.

If people are referring you that means you at least serviced them well or sold them a great product. You are “their guy” – no sexist implications there, just the generic term of course.

The follow up question I always ask is “and what is your plan to increase or at least maintain your word of mouth activity?”get more referrals - confused

That is when the blank stare sets in.

Now suddenly the owner is forced to mumble through words like a kid who was just caught with crumbs on their face being asked if they ate a cookie.

They don’t know what to say. They don’t really want to be honest and say “well nothing!”

Yet they also want to be honest with themselves and think about what they could even be doing to increase or maintain their word of mouth advertising.

So where are you on this? If I asked you that very same question would your two answers be the same as above?

Well no need to worry…


I have 3 Mistakes Business Owners Make With Referrals

Go Get More Referrals!


…and how you can not only keep from making those mistakes but the quick and easy strategy to increase your referrals!


  1. Good Service Is Not Good Enough

The first mistake small business owners make is that they assume that good service is good enough to get referrals. While generally you will get referrals if you give good service, that is not a marketing strategy and it is not enough by it self to generate referrals.

get more referrals - askIn order to generate more referrals and have a plan of action for increasing or maintaining your word of mouth advertising you have to ASK!

Yes you have to ask for the referrals and introductions. Many times we assume our clients and customers will just talk about us, but without asking, they don’t necessarily know they are supposed to talk about you. If you want to steal my simple to use Referral Template, just click here.

So don’t let anyone leave without asking if they wouldn’t mind sharing their experience with just one person!


  1. They Should Know What To Say Or Do

The second major mistake business owners make is assuming that the customer or client should and will know what to say! When someone asks us about a product or service and we tell them who we use, it might seem natural. You’re a business owner, why wouldn’t it come naturally. But your customers don’t necessarily think like you do.

get more referrals - toolYou need to give them something to use!

For example – It can be a free report, a simple referral card, or even a brochure (although I hate this unless it is used properly!), or even just a monthly special that they can pass around the office or talk about to others.

No matter what you give to your customers, make sure they know how to and can easily refer you to other people!


  1. You Need To Reward Good Behavior

The final mistake business owners make is they do not say THANK YOU! In my latest book I discuss how thanking your customers is rare these days. Can you imagine how rare thanking people for a referral is? Far more rare even than thanking customers for their purchases.

How can you expect someone to continue to give you referrals if you don’t treat them like gold and shower them with praise?

If you want word of mouth advertising to increase and stay as your top source of new leads, then give it a budget and treat it as marketing!get more referrals - gift

Find a way to continuously and nicely say Thank You to those that give you referrals. It’s okay to weight those thank you’s based on dollar value, but have a plan and thank them!

For example – I once received a package from Omaha Steak for referring a vendor that we use to one of my friends. I don’t know if they even did business together or even talked, but I know he made a point to me that I should be referring him regularly and he loves to reward for it.

So what are you doing to thank those that are helping you grow?


So what is your plan to increase or maintain your word of mouth advertising?

Will you Get More Referrals?

Don’t make these 3 mistakes and more importantly be proactive with the strategies described above!

I’d love to hear what you do currently? Leave comment in the box below to let me know how you thank those who give you referrals.