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Ask any professional service firm and they will tell you that over 90% of all their new business comes from one of three sources:

  1. Existing clients wanting more work
  2. Existing clients recommending them to their friends and network
  3. Introducers passing them referrals

These three sources of work are probably the easiest and most cost effective ways of winning more business. However, all three of these routes to market rely on you as a professional service firm knowing how to get recommended, or as often talked about ‘referred’, to others. In this three part series we will explore the seven ingredients you need to do to maximise the amount of time you and your firm get referred to new work.

Develop a Niche

This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but there are tons and tons and, wait for it, tons of professionals out there, who do what you do. There are the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as the brilliant and the downright incompetent competitors. If you are going to make yourself memorable so that you are the 1st one asked to do the work, you have to stop saying you do everything. You need to become an expert in a particular subject or audience. I’m not talking here about saying you are an employment lawyer, or Tax specialist – this isn’t specific enough – and therefore memorable enough – to make you stand out from the crowd.

The foundation of any successful referral marketing strategy starts with your firm having a clear idea of who you work for, and why you are the right person to recommend. This becomes far easier to do when you have adopted a niche. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that without defining a clear niche, it is now very difficult to generate business via referral. My reason for this? Well, as you read through the three parts of this blog series, you will notice how many of the other ingredients for referral success are relying on your firm adopting a niche.

My clients and myself have found this to be true – i.e. your lead generation can triple or even quadruple when you focus on niching yourself and NOT being a versatile, one-stop shop. If your firm does not want to use the services of a telemarketer or compete on price, then you need to be focusing on a niche. Personally, I find that, 80+% of all my work is referral marketing related, whether via social media or business networking. Focusing on a niche and building up expertise in that niche is a great way to justify higher day rates.