5) Don’t leave it too long

If you and your client are feeling excited and enthusiastic to be working together, that might be the perfect time to ask them to spread the word. Don’t feel you need to wait until the end of a project to ask if a referral might be possible.

That said, there are plenty of opportunities after the fact that you can politely ask your ex-clients for referrals too. If you’ve got an upcoming event, whitepaper on the way out, or new products in your pipeline that you think might excite past clients, spread the word! Make your old clients feel valued by keeping them in the loop.

6) This time it’s personal

As with so many aspects of marketing, the more personal you make your message, the higher your chance of success. Don’t queue up an automated and generic referral email through your CRM. Take the time to drop your client a personalised email. Or even better, find a moment when you’re already on a call together or face to face, and drop your request into conversation. You’re more likely to get an instant and positive response if you’re speaking rather than emailing.

In addition, be sure to share your growth ambitions and WHY you’re asking for referrals. By opening up and inviting your clients closer into your world, you’ll make them feel special. Share the reason you’re trying to grow and the positive impact that will have on your team, the agency and of course their business. Will growth of a new division enable you to bring more talent into the agency? Invest in smarter tools and research? Establish a footprint in other markets that are also relevant to your client?

7) Clients are just part of the puzzle

Referrals don’t just come from clients. Ex-employees, freelancers you’ve worked with, and even interview candidates are all links in your networking web. Make all of the interactions with your agency as positive as possible so every business touchpoint has the potential to create an eager referee.

Equally, look at companies that offer complementary products and services, or those in your community. They might also be good sources of referrals.

Final thoughts

One last bit of advice: refrain from commenting on how crazy busy you are right now! If clients think your books are full, they’re less likely to bandy your name around town.

Make sure clients come away from every conversation feeling psyched for any ongoing projects, delighted by the work you’re doing, and eager to lend you a helping hand.

Get it right, and passionate referrals will lead you towards the clients you covet, without you ever having to dip into your marketing budget.