Referral is a term which literally means “A person whose case has been referred to a specialist or professional group”, and I think as Indians we are all quite well versed with the concept. However, what we are talking about here is the Referral Marketing. When the technology was not advanced enough, it was the only way to market one’s service or product and it worked most effectively. The scenario is not much different today. In the time of this digital world, words of mouth still spreads like fire, be it positive or negative. In the end, it is up to an organization how to use this power of words in their favour.

90% of customers identify word of mouth as the best, most reliable and trustworthy source of ideas and information on products or services.

However, the question is do we trust every word coming from the any person? When given a chance, we’d rather seek out a suggestion from a friend than admitting to the opinion of a salesperson. We, anytime give more weightage to what our neighbours have to say than what the dealership pitches in. We ask them all kind of questions: which phone is currently best in the market, which insurance policy is better, which education institute is better and so and so on. In the end, instead of going through a brochure or watching a commercial we do go to our friends to validate our purchase decision.
And thus words-of-mouth referrals are till date a proficient marketing strategy as they are well trusted, valued and most importantly, they work. Although spontaneous and unstructured in nature, referral marketing has proved to be an organized set of strategies for professionals that accelerate, encourage and measure these words-of-mouth referrals. In fact, with these set of strategies the results speedup multiple times. However, what are more effective are the words of a trusted friend or an acquaintance. So it’s time to make most of that friendship.

91% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek advice about products or services before they make a purchase.

This friend referral is however, a whole new world for the online marketers. The recommendations are now an open affair rather than the hidden face-to-face discussion or phone calls. Social media is bringing about a new realm into the world of marketing through various social websites and other public domains. Selling a product or a service is no longer restricted to a dealer but has gone ahead till the consumer.
Referral marketing is, however, practiced in two ways. It serves to be an important aspect in the online marketing for professionals and still remains a significant part of offline world.

Online Referral Marketing
With all the increasing number of e-tailors and online business, online referral marketing make use of several kinds of marketing strategies to gain attention of the third party through people you already known but may not have met yet. The aim is to boost up the impact and effectiveness through viral marketing and social networks. It is also the best platform to make your voice and reference reach far and wide to the prospective customers via social networking sites. After all a friend in need is a friend indeed!

43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on social media.

Offline Referral Marketing
This method of offline referral marketing refers to means you can use to augment your customer base without the use of internet. The endorsements can come through a client or colleagues through letters, postcards and public speeches etc.
Although, referral marketing comprises of both offline and online methods but considering the changing business style on the global front, it is usually connected with marketing through internet. It is a kind of a professional services internet marketing featuring numerous referral marketing strategies plus viral marketing, thus creating an exponential growth in client base spreading the words to thousands and millions of people. Plethora of Ideas, services and products are circulated through it like a virus from a person to person.

The result of such communication will always be a win-win situation for all the parties involved. But make sure to keep aside a budget for discounts, freebies and other incentives that will encourage and attract the customers to spread the word more diligently about the business. After all, it all begins with an exchange of dialogue with one willing customer to create a good lead. Once the approach is adopted, your business is for sure to kick-off.