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Welcome to Season 2 Episode 4 of the Creative Business Success Podcast! I’m super excited to introduce you to Laura today. In case you missed the Accelerate Your Creative Biz Summit in spring 2019, Laura was one of the speakers and she had so many fantastic nuggets of wisdom that I knew I needed to have her on the podcast as well. Today, she’s going to be giving you her best tips for increasing referrals – aka essentially free advertising! – to get new clients in your creative business. It may not be what you immediately think of, either, so don’t miss this one!

Here’s a cheat sheet of some of the episode highlights:

Laura’s intro, 1:04
Get access to Laura’s summit session, 2:12
Laura’s secret to increasing referrals, 2:59
Laura’s story of increasing photography referrals, 4:27
How client experience helps increase referrals, 7:12
Can a neutral client experience decrease referrals? 9:08
Client communication is key! 10:32
Why you need a standardized client experience, 11:58
Do you use your clients’ first names? 14:55
Do you struggle with email marketing? 16:19
Why managing your energy is crucial for referrals, 16:54
You can transfer your energy to your clients! 20:23
You need to create a referral program, 22:14
Be proactive and not reactive in your creative business, 25:20
Give memorable client gifts after a project, 27:35
Laura’s closing thoughts on increasing referrals, 29:42
Where to connect with Laura, 33:15

Let’s dive deeper into a few of these key takeaways…

1 | Client experience is crucial to referrals!

No matter what kind of creative business you run, a good client experience can make or break when it comes to getting referrals. If someone has a bad client experience, you’ll get negative word of mouth, but if they have a so-so client experience, they just won’t talk about it at all! As Laura’s experience shows, having a stellar client experience can net you dozens or even hundreds of additional referrals than you would get otherwise.

You can start with something as simple as addressing your potential clients by name. Do this in email, in person, and when referring to them on social media or to other people. That little bit of personalization can go a long way!

Do you provide a fantastic client experience for your customers? If it’s not the kind of experience that they HAVE to tell their friends about (and thus send you referrals!), it’s time to step up your game and make it outstanding!

2 | You need a standardized workflow

Again, no matter what kind of creative business you have, this is key. Without a standardized workflow, it’s a lot harder to provide a stellar client experience! You end up scrambling, forgetting things, and letting your clients down. And no one wants that!

If you don’t have a workflow in place (and hopefully at least partially automated!), Laura and I strongly encourage you to get that set up. If you’re a photographer, Laura has workflow guides, email templates, and more in her shop.

Bonus tip: if you’re an artist, photographer, or designer, I highly recommend Dubsado to help you automate your workflows. It’s a tool created for creative entrepreneurs by creative entrepreneurs that helps you with everything from lead capture to invoicing and workflow management. It can be a serious sanity saver!

Take a moment to create or update your creative business workflows today! Taking that time now can increase your referrals tenfold down the road.

3 | Get a referral program set up!

It’s easy to think that referrals will be organic and ‘just happen.’ That’s not always how it goes, though! It’s always best to JUST ASK. If you don’t ask, it’s easy for your clients to forget to send you referrals. After all, how often do you remember to leave a review for something you love? Yeah, I usually forget too.

By creating an official referral program, you’re reminding people to do it and giving them an extra incentive to remember and intentionally send you referrals. Giving great client gifts that they’ll use regularly is a great way to build on this, too.

If you sell products online, you can even set up an affiliate program, making it even easier for customers to refer new business to you! Here at The Creative Entrepreneurs L.A.B., I use the AffiliateWP plugin to manage my affiliate program for the Thriving Creatives LAB and shop. If you want to create your own affiliate program for your creative business but aren’t sure where to start, email me at [email protected] and I’ll share my tips!

Simply asking for referrals from happy customers and setting up an official referral program or affiliate program can make a huge difference in increasing your referrals!

Want to connect with Laura?

You can find her on her website, and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest @lauraleecreative. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Creative Business Success Podcast for more episodes and share your biggest takeaways in the comments!

S2E4: How to Grow Your Creative Business with Referrals with Laura
The Creative Entrepreneurs L.A.B.