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Dec 20, 2018

A lot of people talk about paid-ad traffic, and the various ways to make ads online work best for your business. But getting referrals can seem like a dark art, and so today on Just the Tips, Dean and I welcome Bill Cates, a master of these dark arts. People tend to separate their customer acquisition into two camps: the things they’re doing to actively acquire business (thinks like paid ads, events, etc.) and then the passive effects of doing good work, like referrals. As Bill says, people tend to think of getting referrals as just the “icing on the cake” of doing good work. But Bill breaks down how that’s bad thinking, and actually leads to people leaving money on the table, this week on Just the Tips.

How a referral changed Bill’s business forever

Bill told us on this week’s Just the Tips that his entry into the world of entrepreneurship came through book publishing. He wrote a book about referrals and marketing, and that led him to start a publishing company, which led him to literally selling his books to bookstores door to door. So he went into one store where the owner wasn’t interested, but he referred him to another store that sold the type of book Bill was putting out there (this one was called Hooked on Seafood). And then an executive walked into that store and loved the book, and long story short, a major company ordered 400,000 copies of that one book. You’ll have to listen to this episode of Just the Tips to hear the whole story, but it’s a doozy.

What do we mean when we say referral business?

Bill has been focused on accelerating referrals for businesses for 25 years, and as he says, a lot of people confuse getting referrals with networking or referencing a business. And certainly those are elements of referrals, but they’re not the whole picture. Bill boils it down to one important action: Introductions. He says it’s first about engagement, getting to know people, and then getting those people to introduce you to people who could use your help, and then forming a connection with those people. Bill has it all distilled down to a science, and you’ll want to hear about it on this week’s episode of Just the Tips.

The super-referral: Getting referrals without having to ask them

Bill says it’s important to keep an eye out for engaged clients or engaged customers. Those are the clients and customers who go beyond hiring you and who know and trust you. As he says, you let them know, “don’t keep me a secret.” In other words, without having to ask them, plant the seed that they could and should refer you. And Bill says something so key in this episode of Just the Tips: It’s about being authentic, not necessarily about being different. Sure, being different can help, but Bill says it’s most important to coach them in how to talk about your business, so they really make it click for a potential client.

How referrals are a perpetual revenue machine

Bill shares so much insight on this week’s Just the Tips about how to drum up referrals. He talks about what he calls “reputation marketing,” which is all about doing good work, and then making sure good people see that good work. If you can offer something of value to people who can help you back, then you’re really onto something. Bill talks about his principles of engagement that allow you to continually land more and more referrals, creating what Bill calls a “perpetual revenue machine.” That’s a pretty sexy name, and you have to hear how Bill makes it work on this week’s episode of Just the Tips.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:11] How Bill became fascinated with referral business
  • [4:34] Where Bill started his entrepreneurial journey
  • [9:00] The referral that changed BIll’s life
  • [12:50] What we mean when we talk about referrals
  • [21:37] Reputation marketing
  • [30:10] The perpetual revenue machine

Music for “Just The Tips” is titled, “Happy Happy Game Show” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Resources Mentioned

Connect With James and Dean

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