The Advertising Agency B2B Referral Program – Is That Enough For Growth?
I just got off the phone with an advertising agency leader in London. I asked, “Where have you been getting business?” he answered, as do most advertising agencies, “from our B2B referral program.”
Ah, the Holy Grail of the B2B client and customer to a friend to agency advertising agency referral. The idea is that if the agency does a good job, a client will tell their friends about the agency. Well, at least for this London agency the good news is that they have an actual, active referral program. Most advertising agencies just hope that their clients will make the nice, sweet B2B referral via fate. I am not a fan of “fate.” You shouldn’t be either.
The B2B Referral – Good News
Don’t get me wrong. I love referrals. The right referral will result in getting the right client with little initial business development effort on the part of the agency. Win-Win. It’s like a great blind-date. Does anyone remember the blind-date? As in, you didn’t meet (as in see and scope out) the referred person until he sat across from you at the Starbucks table? Very 1980’s. OK, back to now.
The B2B Referral – Really Bad News
For the vast majority of advertising, digital and on agencies is that counting on referrals is bad news.
Two simple and compelling problems:
- Referrals are not predictable. Never. This isn’t good for any sort of business planning.
- Referrals are not scalable. Never. This isn’t good for any sort of business planning.
Counting on referrals is a fool’s game.
I’ve counseled agencies on how to actually plan and manage a referral program — !!! As a part of their overall business development plan. Here are links to a couple of earlier blog posts about the advertising agency referral program.
Three – I will admit it – smart, effective and easy to activate B2B referral strategies from prior business development posts just for you.
A key to having a robust referral strategy is to make sure that your current clients are aware that you actually want referrals. Referrals from happy customers are one of best ways that B2B companies generate new business. OK, this isn’t a huge surprise. However, what is surprising how few companies have a dedicated strategy for fostering these valuable personal hand-offs.