The Most Powerful Marketing Tool is a Good Referral
Updated: Jun 22
Why good referrals are gold - and how to get them for your recruitment agency.
Every year, companies across Australia spend billions of dollars marketing themselves. They may create television commercials, launch social media campaigns and do everything from attending trade shows to paying for PR and advertising to drum up business.
But we know from experience that you don’t need a big marketing budget to build your consultancy because the most powerful marketing tool remains a good referral. Referrals cannot really be bought but they can be won. While word of mouth is great because it means people are talking about you, referrals are far more specific: they are actual instances where a peer is recommending your services directly to someone else.
Here are some ways to get more and better referrals:
1. Build solid partnerships with your clients
Strong connections are created by more than the occasional lunch or odd round of golf. The bedrock of client relationships is communication: listen to them, empathise, follow up, take their phone calls and remember personal details that are important to them. If you do entertain them, check what is deductible from FTB (Fringe Benefits Tax). The more you have their backs, the more likely they are to recommend you to others.
2. Create connections with your contractors
Without your contractors, you don’t have a business. Occasionally checking in on them after onboarding goes a long way in creating loyalty to you as a recruiter. You never know which entry-level candidate will one day become the perfect option for a lucrative position you need to fill or if they’ll pass your name onto their colleagues and classmates to build your contractor list.
If you’ve set up your software stack correctly, it will contain a system that allows you to send bulk texts to candidates’ phones – this is especially useful if you need to give them important information. As always, good communication = good connections = good future referrals.
This is especially true if temps and contingent workers make up a significant portion of your talent pool. Having quick, easy, convenient and cost-effective ways of communicating with them at short notice will help cement your relationship and create a positive feedback loop.
3. Look after your best candidates
If a recruit of yours is up for an interview, help them prepare with practice questions. If a group of FIFOs are leaving together, see them off from the airport or welcome them back from their rotation. You never know if a future client is in their wider circle of friends or family connections. As always, a referral starts with a relationship so put as much effort as you can into as many connections as you can.
4. Get into the real world
We all have LinkedIn contacts we’ve never met in real life or even had a single Zoom meeting with. No matter how influential these contacts are, they’re less valuable than the people you actually meet, face to face. Recruiters are natural networkers but don’t let the promises of technology allow you to reduce your networking to accepting friend requests. They’re unlikely to give you a valuable referral because they don’t actually know you.
We know this is time consuming which is why it’s important to set up your business’s administrative systems correctly right at the start. If your reports, timesheets, payroll and more are automated, you have time for real world networking and relationship building.
5. Give away your time, knowledge and experience
While it’s true that time is money and that your knowledge and experience are the USPs of your business, it’s also true that being generous with them will pay off. Always give good advice if you’re asked, offer to help where you can, pass on leads that you can’t fulfill: this will generate plenty of goodwill and people who think well of you are more likely to make a referral.
6. Work with like-minded companies
The more you seek out firms and people who work, think and communicate like you do, the better your chances of them referring you to their peers. Having similar mindsets likely means you’ll mesh well, always the basis for a good referral.
If you work with companies that you don’t see eye-to-eye with, you could end up with negative referrals because the relationship wasn’t smooth and you simply rubbed each other up the wrong way. Negative referrals are hard to undo so, as far as you can, work with people that you can build positive experiences with.
It may feel cheeky but if you’ve got a great connection with a contact, it never hurts to say that you always appreciate new business or that you’d love to be part of a new project that they may know of. Keep it light and friendly but don’t be embarrassed to ask for a referral.
Sometimes it helps to wait until you’ve fulfilled several vacancies or placed multiple tranches of candidates – building up a solid reputation and then timing your request appropriately could garner great results.
8. Say thank you… and return the favour
The flip-side of asking for a referral is always saying thank you when you get one. Even if the new connection doesn’t work out, it’s good practice to let the person who recommended you know how it went. This is a chance to show your gratitude and subtly guide the type of referrals you’d appreciate more of in future.
Whenever you can, be a good referrer yourself. As we said in Point 5, being generous stands you in good stead in recruiting. Passing on referrals almost always ensures that others will return the favour.
Marketing your business can be a costly and time-consuming business. Getting into the habit of giving and acknowledging referrals takes only your time and good manners – two things that are free. Plenty of successful companies have been built on the back of referral marketing, and yours can be, too.