Marketing Money Can’t Buy: The Power of a Referral

I once answered a thread in one of my LinkedIn marketing groups about the best ways to market a public relations business. The poster had asked for guidance in promoting as she was having difficulty landing new clients.

Do you ask your customers or clients for referrals?
Word-of-mouth advertising, or referrals, keep my business thriving.

I told her that I had been expanding my client base primarily through word-of-mouth advertising, or what’s commonly known as referrals. Well, that didn’t sit well with one of the commenters. He promptly told me that word-of-mouth is not marketing. True, but if the result helps you reach the same goal, does it really matter?

I have been fortunate in that each client success story I write through Katalinas Communications leads to a new client, often by way of referral.

I began work recently with two new nonprofit organizations. People I had good working relationships with had made an introduction.

I am writing Website and email marketing copy for the Power of Professional Women, a Philadelphia-based group which promotes professionalism, interests, career development, leadership skills and community involvement.

Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia is my other new client. My company is providing writing and public relations services to help the organization promote its International Visitor Leadership Program, its Sister Cities exchange and its 2018 Citizen Soiree. The 2017 Soiree is what led me to my most recent work with Citizen Diplomacy.

Tom Jennings – a long-standing Citizen Diplomat and Citizen Diplomacy board member – and an attorney for one of my municipal clients, was recognized at the 2017 Soiree. He and his wife called on me to help share their story of hosting dozens of international guests over the last 20 years. Citizen Diplomacy took notice of my work with the Jennings family and sought my help with publicity.

How are you soliciting referrals or word-of-mouth advertising your business?
I am truly grateful for the numerous referrals resulting in new clients.

These are just the most recent examples of instances where referrals have paid off. I’m not saying that marketing isn’t necessary, just that in creating splashy ads and compelling videos we sometimes forget the power of a positive review or referral. It’s far easier to make one client happy and have them refer a colleague then it is to start at the ground level selling your services to virtual strangers.

Here are a few ideas to make referrals work for you:

  1. Make good connections

Are you connected to the appropriate movers and shakers in your industry on LinkedIn? Do your connections have acquaintances who you’d like to work with? Ask for an introduction. Once connected, try to learn more about your connections and how you may be able to help each other.

  1. Share what’s happening 

    I prefer working one-on-one with clients as opposed to networking in large groups. Find a way to connect that works best for you.

You never know when a connection or someone within their network may need your products or services. Reach out (in a non-salesy way) periodically and share what you’re working on and the ways you’re looking to grow your business. When I started my business, I mentioned it in passing to a contact. His referrals helped me land four clients, with a possible fifth in the works.

  1. Ask for referrals

Ask your clients to write a review of your business for your Website, Facebook and sites relevant to your industry, such as Yelp and Angie’s List.

  1. Offer incentives for referrals

Show your client appreciation for helping to line up new projects by referring them to your network and/or offering a discounted price. Even though your business may be growing, it’s still important to keep your customers happy. Plus, everybody likes to feel appreciated.

In case we haven’t yet met, please allow me to introduce myself. I am a marketing and public relations professional with a penchant for storytelling. I help nonprofit organizations, municipal government and small businesses engage with their audience on a multitude of platforms. Please reach out to me directly to discuss how I may be able to help you reach your target audience. Call 215-519-8833 or email

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