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5 Proven Ways to Drive More Word-of-Mouth Referrals

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Word of mouth. It’s often called the most valuable form of advertising—with good reason. A word-of-mouth referral from a friend, colleague or industry expert can go a long way, and provide all the impetus necessary to contact the person or firm being recommended.

After all, who better to give your name to a potential client than someone they know and trust? Moreover, what better way to start working with a new client than by leveraging the record of customer satisfaction that you’ve already established with the client who referred you?

Study after study shows how incredibly persuasive a word-of-mouth referral can be. Given this fact, you might think that RIA firms, trust companies, family offices and other financial professionals would be going all out to turn word of mouth into a key part of their new business engine. However, word of mouth has two perceived drawbacks that inhibit advisors from capitalizing as fully as they should… 

Word of Mouth Is Not Predictable or Scalable—or Is It?

Suppose you got two word-of-mouth referrals that turned into new client relationships last month. Pretty good, right? Problem is, you may think there’s no way to predict that you’ll get two more in the next month. Or the month after. How are you supposed to know when a satisfied client will bring up your name at a dinner party or on the putting green?

As a result, advisors assume they can’t accurately predict an inflow of new business through word of mouth, or scale to it. Welcome as it may be, word of mouth is seen as sporadic and unpredictable. But the reality is that you can build word-of-mouth referrals into your new business process—and bring in clients on a much more regular basis than you thought possible.

Be Proactive, Not Passive, on Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Stop thinking of word-of-mouth referrals as a passive way of getting your name out. You don’t have to wait for a happy client to sing your praises.

Instead, take proactive steps to promote word-of-mouth. Be ahead of the curve—and make it happen on a regular basis by doing the following: 

  1. Use share functionality. Many firms have market commentary, news insights or newsletters on their websites.  Make sure that you are using social media share functionality (e.g., buttons to share on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). Encouraging a client or potential client to share your material with a peer is a great way to facilitate more word-of-mouth.
  1. Build a network of experts with reciprocity in mind. You’re not the only professional expert who’s meeting a particular client’s financial needs. Your client may also require the services of a CPA, tax attorney, estate planner, insurance agent and a variety of other influencers. Reach out to these professionals. Build relationships with them. Refer your other clients to them. Chances are, they’ll reciprocate by referring their clients to you.
  1. Create a “one-pager” that you can circulate to your network. What sets you apart from other advisors in your space? Create a brief electronic document that outlines your strengths and competitive advantages. For example, do you specialize in ultra-high-net-worth clients? Retirement planning? Send the document to the experts in your network, so they can share it with their clients. In effect, you’re inviting the experts to share a valuable solution with their clients, as opposed to asking them to make a personal referral.
  1. Generate additional content that’s valuable, and can be shared. Write and post an informative blog on your website. Or ask a respected industry expert to serve as your company advocate and present valuable content at an original webinar that you host. (For example, at ByAllAccounts, we recently hosted a webinar by Marcia Wagner, the well-known ERISA attorney, on the subject of evolving fiduciary standards.) In the case of blogs, always provide information that’s useful, and include a “SHARE” button in the blog that allows your reader (a client, perhaps) to forward it to their peers. Or give readers the chance to tweet about your blog—they may pass your name to prospects who aren’t yet in your database. That’s electronic word-of-mouth referring at its best. 
  1. Read up. I highly recommend a superb book, aptly titled, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, by George Silverman. It can be an invaluable aid in growing your business.


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