Before we get into the meat of this discussion, let’s remember that I think referrals are awesome. They are a truly wonderful source of revenue and are a reward for doing great things for people in your network. What they aren’t, however, is a scalable, controllable way to grow your agency. There are many agencies that get stuck in the belief that referrals are their best source of growth. The minute that thought enters your mind, you have created an artificial limit on your agency’s growth.


Hey Gang, it’s Tim. Thanks for joining. I wanted to talk today about growth and self-limiting beliefs. This is not self-help. This is really about you growing your agency more. So, buckle in for just a minute. I talk to an awful lot of smaller agencies. So, they’re one to five million in revenues kind of folks, or maybe folks who are smaller than that. And they believe that their best source of new business is referrals. And referrals are awesome because they tend to be really well-qualified. You don’t have to do quite as much selling. They tend to close quicker. And that’s all great stuff. They may not fit your ideal customer profile, by the way, that’s something to remember. But what happens as agencies start to grow, they get trapped by the need for referrals. And referrals are not scalable. You can’t really control them. We can talk about how you can sort of amp up your referral activity but it’s not controllable. You cannot, if you need to, if you are in a trough and you really need to drive your business, you can’t pull a lever and generate more referrals. Referrals are something that happen to your business and it can be a really nice revenue stream. But they’re not something that you can amp up when you need to. They’re not in your control.

And that becomes a self-limiting belief because you imagine that you’re stuck in a million dollars or five million dollars or 300 thousand dollars. Whatever that number is, you’re stuck because you’re not getting good quality referrals. But then you think, “Okay, how do I amp that up? How do I drive more referrals?” Well, you don’t. Right? Referrals are a present given to you. Now if you’re very nice and put a lot of great stuff out into the world, referrals can actually be a really wonderful inexpensive cost of acquisition kind of marketing, but you can’t rely on it. And so if you believe that you need to rely on referrals to grow your business, you have limited the growth of your business. There is no way that you will be able to explode. There is no way that you will be able to get out of the owner operator trap that we talked about, which is basically, you’re the owner, operator and you get maxed out. You can’t do a single more thing. But if you’re relying on referrals, you will always be stuck there because your referral network will not give you more referrals than you can handle, because they don’t want to make an introduction that they don’t believe is going to be satisfied.

So, referrals become a self-limiting belief. They put a cap on your agency. What you really need to do to explode that. To get rid of that self-limiting belief is, honor the referrals. Referrals are awesome. I’m not saying anything bad about them. But what you really need to do is focus as much as you can on the things that you can control, which would be your exposure, your advertising. Most of you who are watching this you’re running some kind advertising agency. You need to do the very things that you espouse that your customers do. You need to publish. You need to advertise. You need to create great converting [inaudible 00:03:22] pages. That sort of stuff. You need to create some sort of marketing program for yourselves because that explodes the self-limiting belief. Because then the growth of your agency, in many respects, comes down to your skill and the investment you were willing to put into that marketing program. That is a much, much better bet than hoping that your accountant, who you like really well and have dinner with once a month, thinks of you the next time they talk to a customer. Right? It’s much better to be in control of your own destiny.

So, throw away that limiting belief that your best customers come from referrals, because they don’t. The best customers come from those ones that match your ideal customer profile and that you market and acquire on your own and do a great job in servicing because they can then become a referral source in the future, potentially. But they match everything that you want. And they’ve come through your process that you’ve developed from introduction to value proposition to onboarding. So they have experienced the entirety of your customer lifespan. So they are the customer you can shape. You have less power over what you can do with the referrals. So, keep the referrals but throw away the belief that they are you’re best customers because your very best customers will come from the customers that you acquire and retain on your own. Then, by the way, those customers, the staff from those customers, might actually jump off and go work somewhere else and hire you with just a phone call. That’s awesome. That frequent flyer methodology is fantastic. That’s different than a referral. When you have a frequent flyer, they are actually calling you back because you did a great job.

So, throw away the self limiting beliefs of referrals are my best business source. Know that your process, your skill as an advertising communications professional to drive qualified leads into your own process so that you can show them your value proposition. Service them well. Provide value for them. That’s your best customer. So throw off the shackles. Don’t be limited by things that have to happen to you, like a referral. Take charge and invest time, money, effort and love into driving into the world to get your ideal customer. Thanks gang. We’ll talk soon.