The little known truth about Marketers and referral marketing
It’s common for a Marketer to question their role in business development and referral marketing. While Partners and Managers have distinct and historically prominent roles in maintaining referral relationships, Marketers generally remain in the event planning and network coaching portion of the equation. However, Marketers have a unique opportunity to not only create a strong referral network of their own, but to bring in business and save the firm money in the process.
Any Marketer at any sized firm can leverage relationships with their Marketing counterpart at other professional service firms. Law firms, banks, insurance brokers and even other accounting firms make valuable resources for events, sponsorships, and referral connections — not to mention a Marketing ally to share information, talk shop with and indulge in the occasional “therapy” happy hour.
Making the connection
If your firm tracks its Partners’ referral sources, go through the list and look for common connections. While a Partner may have a longstanding point man at “X Bank,” you may find that several other Partners have connections with people at the same bank. If a handful of your staff already consider that company a reliable referral source, then you have an ideal opportunity to establish a broader relationship. If your CRM or project management tool doesn’t track referrals, simply ask your Partners about their connections and their favorite business to work with and refer clients to.
You can then utilize LinkedIn to find the Marketer of these businesses. Reach out, connect, go to lunch and chat about the ways you can help each other and your firms. Look for businesses with similar values and a shared client base to make the most of this symbiotic relationship. A referral with ethical and cultural similarities is key to forming connections that will continually yield happy referrals and happy clients.
Events and sponsorships
Creating a referral relationship with another professional service firm can do wonders for not only the quality of your events, but your budget. As a Marketer, this is where your referral network can really help your events shine. In addition to doubling your invitee list, co-sponsoring events significantly cuts the cash burden for both businesses, and your finance team will love that you slashed the cost of food, drinks, event space and advertising. Further, your team will have the luxury of entering a room full of quality leads with trusted partners ready to make introductions and praise your firm’s work. You and your Marketing cohort can sit back and watch networking magic unfold.
Since it’s less common for young associates to bring in new clients, they’ll mistakenly think that they have no reason to build a referral network. However, encouraging them to build relationships early in their career will help them create an established referral community by the time they reach senior level positions. By co-hosting professional networking events with your referral businesses, you are putting your staff in the ideal environment to generate friendships and bonds with other young professionals. They will gain a wingman to attend outside networking events with as well as learn about the industries that their clients will inevitably inquire about in the future.
Bonds with other accounting firms
It may seem counterintuitive, but relationships with other accounting firms can be quite lucrative. Having a referral network of firms with specialties and niches outside of your own can lead to a whole new stream of business opportunities. Larger firms can refer you projects that are too small or specialized, while smaller firms can refer you clients that may require more resources or time allotment. Perhaps you’re a regional firm who would benefit from the connection with a global or national firm, or maybe a relationship with a firm specialized in internal audit would benefit your clients. These relationships may require some more homework on your end, as you will want to ensure they uphold a quality reputation to avoid inheriting messy financials.
With the right connections you have the power to expand your business, save money and help jumpstart the career of others at your firm. You have a unique placement in the referral cycle, and you can play an active role in leading the frontier to a new pool of fresh clientele.