The best kind of advertising any freelancer can do is to build up a reputation via word of mouth. This type of advertising in great, not only because it is free, but it usually comes with referral from a past customer. Combine a personal referral and a killer portfolio and you can almost assure yourself the job.
So, the question is, how do I get more referrals?
10 Ways to Get More Referrals
1. Be Simple About What You Do
Avoid from giving your self or your skill sets a fancy name. Few people outside of the industry will actually know what a “front end developer who specializes in user interfaces” actually does. Dumb it down to the point that a 6th grader could understand what you do. If your customers don’t understand what you do, how do you expect them to be able to explain it to others?
2. Don’t Be Shy, Ask for Referrals
There is no rule saying you can’t ask your customers to refer others to you. After the project is over and done with, ask the client what they thought of your services and if they would recommend you to others. If so, give them a stack of business cards to keep on hand. Remind them that referrals are a huge part of your business and that anything they can do to get the word out would help.
3. Great Customer Service
The best way to make sure your current customers are happy is to make sure you offer them great customer service. If you do, they will take notice and brag about it to others. Providing quick and friendly customer support is the first step in ensuring you get some referrals from that client.
4. Provide Quality Work
Customer service can make up for a lot of short coming, but it won’t make up for lousy work. It goes without saying that in order to get good referrals, you have provide exceptional work. If you give the client a half assed design or sub par revisions; odds are they aren’t going to refer anyone to you ever.
5. Create an Incentive
One great way to encourage your clients to refer others is to offer them something in return. For example; you could offer clients a $10 gift card to a local restaurant for each client they refer. If the client is a repeat customer, you can offer them some free services or a discount for each client they refer.
6. Use Your Business Card Wisely
Why not make your business card more than just a collection of contact information? Add a line to the bottom or back of the card with your incentive from above. That way it will remind your past clients that you have an incentive. It may also prompt the referred to go with your service just to help the referrer out.
7. Give More than They Asked For
This goes along with the saying; under promise and over deliver. If a client gets the feeling that you are the type of guy that went the extra mile for them, they will probably brag about it to their friends and customers. This age old trick goes a long way in making clients feel like you go above and beyond for them.
8. Call Old Clients
Its easy for past clients to forget about you and referring business to you a few weeks after the end of project. Find a friendly way to stay in touch with them. By staying in touch with a client, you help keep your business in the back of the clients mind. A great way to do this is to simply send out holiday greetings, either by mail or e-cards.
9. Don’t Forget to Say Thanks
This goes along with the incentive offer mentioned above. If a client takes the time to refer someone that turns out to be a good match for you, remember to say thanks. This is especially important if you offered an incentive. If you don’t live up to your end of the deal, you can be assured they will stop sending clients your way. Even if you don’t offer and incentive, send them a short email saying thanks. they will appreciate the gesture.
10. Network with Professionals
We all have the tendency to take on more work than we can chew at some point. By taking the time to network with other professionals you might be able to cash in on these work overlaods. Meet up with others in the industry and offer to exchange contact info in case either of you get overwhelmed with work.