Why Your Therapy Practice Should Use Referrals
The power of word-of-mouth marketing is undeniable. It’s a free and easy way to connect with potential clients. Referred clients are more likely to want to work with you than non-referred clients, so it makes sense to make referrals part of your marketing strategy.
The first is asking for recommendations and referrals from your networks without any incentive for them, apart from the knowledge that they are helping you. You could send them a thank you card when someone they’ve referred becomes a client. You do not need to mention who.
The second type is when you give people who refer you to others a reward or ‘thank you’ of some form, when someone they have referred becomes a paying client. It might be a relaxation mp3 or cd or a book you have written or a fee. This type of marketing has been around for decades, but recently it has become more popular because the digital age has made it easier than ever before to monitor and manage referrals.
You might feel uncomfortable ‘paying’ people to refer clients to you. However, there may be potential business partners who would be a good ‘match’ for you who would be interested in a referral payment. They might serve the same target client and be willing to promote you to those clients in return they would receive a small commission, once that person becomes a client. It might be a cheaper option than paying for advertising on Facebook or in other media. Or attending more regular types of networking and referral-based meetings.
Whether or not you provide incentives to those referring people to you, setting up referral systems and networks is a good idea:
1) Starting with your own, satisfied, clients. State on your website and in your client agreement that you build your practice through word-of-mouth referrals. At the end of their last session remind them that you are happy for them to pass on your details to people they know. You can give them business cards or if working remotely send them some in the post.
2) Referral networks can increase the flow of clients seeking support from you. This is because referred clients are more likely to want to work with you. Trust and credibility are vital in our work. Someone who has been given your details by a person they already know, like and trust means the client already ‘knows’ they can trust you too.
3) They provide extra revenue for your practice - this is because referred clients are more likely to contact you and end up working with you due to the point made above.
4) A referral system (incentivised or not) can build loyalty - this is because referred clients are more likely to suggest your business to their friends and family members so spreading your influence over a wider area.
To sum up, referral marketing is a powerful way to grow your business. Referrals are the most trusted form of marketing and arguably the most effective.
The best way to get referrals is to ASK:
- Ask for referrals from your clients
- Ask for referrals from other therapists who don’t do what you do
- Ask for referrals from other business owners who may serve the same niche
- Ask for referrals from friends and family
Hone your skills and manage your mindset as you start Asking!
I talk more about how to build referral relationships and educate those who will be referring people to you in my Designing the Dream course.