Carl Maerz is a co-founder of Rocket Referrals, a startup company focused on helping businesses gain referrals from customers.
In several of my previous posts on IowaBiz I talk about general concepts around referral marketing. Along the way I have offered tips on ways to increase the likelihood that your clients will pull the trigger and send their friends and family your way. I try my darndest to put a unique spin on my content and support it with research and studies in psychology. And let me tell you, the biggest challenge I have is providing content that not only inspires people to look critically at the subject, but also offers actionable steps to increase referral business. That is my goal on this post - and I would really enjoy hearing your feedback on this particular subject.
Just this week I finished an eBook tailored to referral marketing for insurance agents (my company’s target market). Talk about the epitome of content marketing - and boy was it a lot of work. And for those of you who don’t know exactly what this is, content marketing is creating and distributing valuable and consistent content to attract a clearly defined audience. Blog posts, white papers, eBooks, etc. Anything your prospects will find value in reading. I then thought about ways that I could use much of what I learned about referral marketing and use it to promote my eBook, and this is what I came up with.
Inherently, content marketing is designed to supplement all types of marketing - SEO, inbound, PPC, social media, etc. The bottom line, in order for it to be most effective it needs to find its way to a lot of people in your target market (your defined audience). Now, encouraging people to share content is nothing new. I mean, you can’t even buy something online anymore without being asked to share it on Facebook. But, in my opinion, there is a clear distinction between sharing your casual blog post and a more in depth white paper or eBook.
Here’s why. People are used to paying for books and businesses often shell out money for in-depth research. If you spend the time to create this type of content you have a valid claim that it is worth something. That is, of course, if it is not just marketing material packed as useful information.
So here is my thought. Write an eBook and pack it full of valuable and relevant information (branded to your company, of course). Put a monetary value on it, say $29, but don’t sell it. Give it away to your current clients for free as a ‘thank you’ for their loyalty. They will appreciate this. Now, you want to inspire them to share it with others. But, rather than just encouraging them to forward the PDF, provide them with a link where they can only send the eBook to one person (whoever would most benefit from it) and include this link inside the eBook (think viral). And, in return the referrer will receive an email or link to an exclusive discount that they can only find if they submit the share through your form (say, 50% off the next month of service).
This is a soft referral. Your clients know who could likely benefit from your service and are sharing your content with that individual and making an introduction to your company. Allowing them to share the eBook with only one individual, and the waved price tag, will give them something of value to share. Now - for those that forward the PDF to multiple people. That’s fine! After all it is branded to your company and should include a soft call to action and the exclusive offer to share it with others. Before you know it your book will find its way into many different inboxes. As long as you are following up with the leads generated by your online forms, you can start to include drip marketing into the equation.
For an example landing page click here. Again, I’d like to hear your thoughts.