The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

The Referral Engine by John JantschIf we all know that referrals are the best, most cost-effective marketing strategy, then WHY OH WHY do we continue to leave referrals up to fate or some happy coincidence?  I honestly don’t know.  In fact, it’s frustrating to see so many new, ideal, wonderful and profitable clients simply going un-harvested, just because you treated referrals as something that just happen and not like a powerful strategy.

Well, it seems that I am not the only one.  John Jantsch, author of “Duct Tape Marketing” and award winning social media publisher has been thinking about this same thing for years and has come out with his latest book The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself.

In the interest of full disclosure, shameless bragging and self-promotion, I have to tell you that he interviewed me for his book and I’m happy to say that my story is listed early in the book in the section titled “Reality #5 Marketing is a System” (that’s page 9 in your copy 🙂 ).   Don’t worry; I’m not the only one.  John has interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and used their stories and information to serve as inspiration as well as a best-practices collection so that you can literally see what others are doing and create a system that works for you.

And talk about building goodwill and reciprocity — you can see a full list of all the people he interviewed on the book’s website! I wonder how many referrals all of those participants will get from that?!

Read It in One Sitting – Use It for a Lifetime

This is what I call a power-book.  It’s just over 200 pages long.  You can read it in one sitting, but you’ll use it for a lifetime.  Here is what I mean by that.  It’s written is such a simple and engaging style with so many interesting stories, case studies and examples, that you’ll find yourself zipping through it very quickly.  I also recommend that you keep a highlighter and some sticky notes by your side because you’ll want to pull out the many good strategies and ideas that you’ll read about and adapt them for your own use.

If you don’t like to write all over your books, John has devoted Chapter 12 “Snack Sized Suggestions” to listing a bunch of strategies that he’s found in his research.

You’ll find examples from retail:

  • A gift store setting up a referral club that rewarded customers by giving them a certificate good for $20 off a hundred dollar purchase.
  • A clothing store partnered with surrounding retailers to promote each other
  • A golf driving range gives members who purchase a 10-session package “Free Range Time” coupons to give to others they want to bring to the club

There are service business examples too:

  • A computer consultant joined an industry association and marketed his service as an add-on to hardware upgrades.
  • A sales trainer offered a free all-expense paid trip to Cancun for the person who referred the most clients in a year.
  • A maid service sent out fake $100 bills as a Valentines Day gift to their clients – and then told them to “gift” them to their friends as $100 off the maid service.

Independent professionals get tips too:

  • A dental office installed a small kitchen with an oven and bakes cookies to give to their patients (I wonder if they are low-sugar?).  The practice is so unique that people tell their friends.
  • A financial planner surprised his clients by having their car detailed in the parking lot while they were in the meeting.  Clients were so pleased they told everyone.
  • A management consultant got a testimonial from EVERY client he had ever worked with.  He had over 500 pages of letters!  When potential clients asked for references, he would send a spiral bound 500 page book with a snappy letter.

3 People Who Should Get This Book – Yesterday

  1. Business Owner – If you’re a multi-hat wearing small business owner without a salesforce or marketing expert, the best time and money you’ll spend this year will be for this book.  John Jantsch has done all the hard work for you and pulled together everything you need to make the most of your networking meetings.
  2. Sales Person – How much do you love cold calling?  Yeah, I hear you.  Trust me.  I got my start cold calling and selling long distance service and BELIEVE me, a good referral system will have you spending all your time doing what you do best.
  3. Free Agent or Consultant – There is absolutely no better way to build a profitable book of clients than the referral techniques that John Jantsch outlines in Referral Engine.

There is no doubt that John Jantsch has put his heart, his soul and all his wisdom into this book.  Hard to imagine that he could beat Duct Tape Marketing – you’ll have to pick this one up and judge for yourself.

Editor’s note about free books: Small Business Trends has 2 extra copies of the book that John Jantsch’s publisher sent us.  We’ll give those away in a random drawing.  Everyone who leaves a comment below by May 12, will be entered in the drawing for a chance to win a book. We’re happy to mail the books anywhere in the world at our expense, via first class mail.

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."