Gaining Referrals

Few experienced solo and small office professionals need to be reminded about the importance of referrals for maintaining a constant, if not increasing, flow of clients. For starters, referrals are relatively inexpensive. Requiring little in the way of time or money. More importantly, referrals bring a level of trust and enthusiasm. Someone that the potential new client knows has convinced them that the company’s products or services are worthwhile, so much of the barrier to a relationship is already reduced. In fact, in many cases the client may be begging to get started for whatever is being sold. While a potential sale may only close 10% of the time through traditional channels, it is not uncommon for referrals to close well over 50% of the time, if not higher.

None of that, however, goes to answer the question of how to get referrals. Some may be inclined to think that because referrals have to come from a client that they are nothing to be counted upon in the standard revenue stream. In fact, the opposite is very much the truth. With a few simple adjustments, any company can take the good work it is already producing for its clients and magnify it across the market.

While it may go without saying, the most important step in building the number of referrals that a company receives is to do good work. No one wants someone to come to their restaurant and spread that the food is just alright. Perhaps worse, no one wants a customer who is going to suggest that service is lacking. To achieve a large number of referrals, the company must offer something that causes people to want to talk about it.

Equally important, a company should have a process in place to encourage its clients to offer referrals. Depending on the nature of the company and the products offered, that could take on a variety of different forms.

At the most basic level, getting referrals is about asking for them. After a client has received a number of deliverables that are at a high enough standard, ask them to send potential prospects to the company. Feel free to incentivize this for the existing clients. For example, TV providers often offer existing clients a small bill credit for each new customer that signs a contract for service. The existing client gets a lower bill while the company gets a new client, meaning that everyone wins.

While it certainly helps for the referral program to be systematized like the cable TV referrals, it is not a firm requirement. An accountant working with a firm could simply ask the managing partner if he or she knows anyone else who would be able to use their services and if the client would be willing to put the two in touch.

Taken to the extreme, this could include affiliate programs, which offer a percentage of the new client’s fees as a reward for the referrer. However, this require some amount of caution. For a referral to be truly effective, it is essential that the potential new client understand that the referral is made with their best interests at heart, not the promise of monetary gain. After all, which would be more trustworthy, a website offering an affiliate link to a product, or a social media post from a friend to the same product in question? Chances are that it is the social media post.

Speaking of social media, it can create meaningful ways to achieve referrals, especially for those companies that market directly to consumers. A number of fast food places use this to their advantage, creating hashtags that allow their current customers to post about their experiences with the company’s product. Few people ever click on a sponsored hashtag to see how complete strangers enjoy a cup of coffee. However, it does offer a way for the customer to feel that they are helping the company – though it lacks the formality of a letter of introduction, it is a referral all the same.

Clearly, there are a number of ways to ask for referrals overtly, whether it is simply approaching the project manager or appealing to the masses via social media. However, not every company or professional will feel comfortable giving referrals. For many, there could be corporate regulations that stand in the way. For others, it may be something as simple as not wanting to endorse one vendor’s work as being better than the others. In these cases, it may be worthwhile to take a slightly different approach. Press releases which announce the completion of a project or milestone highlight the fact that two or more organizations have collaborated, and do not inherently create a referral. That said, many of the advantages are there, especially the ability to refer back to a bond and the inherent trust present.

Luckily, most companies are easy going when it comes to gaining referrals, as they see it as an opportunity to pay it forward. Speaking of which, giving referrals should be an essential portion of any plan to get referrals. By supporting a client’s business through referrals, there is not only an opportunity to help out a colleague, but also to see their practice grow. An accountant who refers people to a lawyer will see the lawyer do more billing, which means more finances to be tracked, which in turn means more work for the accountant.

Of course, referrals should be given freely when there is no promise for such direct financial return. In doing so, a relationship mentality is built between the firm and the client. This in turn serves two purposes. The client sees the firm as more of a partner than a vendor, making them more willing to pay higher prices, if necessary. Additionally, because the client views the firm in such a good light, it will see the firm’s continued success as linked to its own.

This idea of a partnership for the purpose of gaining referrals and encouraging other businesses is very much the reason behind a number of professional groups, as companies often have something to offer those who are not their regular clients. Even networking in a less formal setting can enable someone to refer a potential client as a friend rather than just as another ad off of the Internet. At their best, these professional groups become hives of referral swapping, with each member dedicated not only to his or her own success, but that of the other members of the group.

No matter how a company comes about its referrals, there are a few tips that are necessary to make the most of them. First and foremost, it is vital to thank those who offer referrals, no matter what the final outcome may be. The fastest way to lose a source of referrals is to take it for granted – after all, referrals do not come from employees, but instead those who are going out of their way to help another company.

Second, high standards must be kept for both new and existing clients. New clients are the most likely to offer new referrals, but having a long-time client suddenly drop a product or service, or worse yet, explain to others their disgruntlement can be especially damaging.

Finally, the worst time to go finding referrals is when they are needed most for the survival of the business. If a company is in such dire straits, it is best to look at the circumstances that caused the downturn in business. If it was a loss of quality, as is often the case, potential remedies should be examined first. If the loss of profits was caused by something else, then those causes should be identified and mitigated to the best of the firm’s abilities. In the long run, attending to such concerns will help make sure that any new referrals are given the attention needed to become new referees themselves.

Online Videos Can Impact Your Internet Marketing

Online videos add dimension to any website.  They can showcase a product or service in a way text and still-graphics simply cannot.  The adage, “A picture says a thousand words”, is absolutely true, but when it comes to on-line videos, I dare say that it’s safe to say, “A picture says a thousand words, but a video says a thousand more.”

How Can Videos Make A Difference?

Videos have great potential to impact your marketing efforts in positive ways; and here are a few thoughts to consider:

  • Videos add a human touch to your product—they provide a personal feel in a digital world.
  • Videos can contribute to higher conversion rates.
  • Videos afford increased exposure, especially when utilizing such popular, dominating platforms as YouTube.

The Forrester Research Report of January 2009 revealed that a video is at least 50 times more likely to produce a first-page Google ranking than conventional search engine marketing methods.  Additionally, videos will start to show in search engine results in days instead of months.  With that being said, the research is worth pondering and it just might behoove one to seriously consider embedding video(s) in one’s online site.

Implementing the Video Dimension:

A key element is adding that oh-so-rare personal touch; and that means appealing to your audience in a way that will enlist them and keep their attention.  The types of topics that are universally appealing are simple yet intriguing, are humble yet articulate and give a ‘down-home’ feel, such as:

  • Videos that provide ‘how-to’ advice on repairing, creating, solving, playing, organizing—whatever perspective would compliment your site’s product or service.
  • Videos that allow one to ‘meet’ those in your company who ‘make it happen’— there’s something about putting a human face to a business’ work-team.  It allows your on-line visitors to gain a sense of genuine connectedness—you become more ‘real’; and that transparency translates into consumers’ increased confidence and trust in you as well as your product or service; and that will, most definitely, influence conversion rates.
  • Videos that offer quiz snippets–for example, if your on-line business provides exotic animals for children’s parties, quiz snippets can capture attention and maintain a level of intrigue.  Here’s an example:  “Do you think our most exotic animal at your party will be: (a) a baby alligator (b) a kangaroo (c) a desert fox or (d) a 5’ boa constrictor?  Snippets should offer dramatic information, if at all possible, that gets one’s juices flowing, rousing a visitor to want to know more!

On-site tours or behind-the-scene interviews could serve as a video’s approach, as well—any topic that captivates a visitor’s interest and keeps it, while developing a feeling of intimacy at the same time.

The Needed Technical Side:

If you have successfully created your video, your production will need to be prepared in such a way that it can be indexed by search engines.  Once your video is uploaded to your website, you’ll need to submit it to Google or it will not be crawled and indexed as a regular page, which means it would fail to show up in search engine results.  You’ll want to take the necessary step of utilizing a media RSS feed to actively submit your video information or create a video sitemap which will provide guidelines for video content.  You must, also, create a robots.txt file and incorporate all your video pages to make sure Google is not restricted, and permit the search engine to rapidly authenticate your video content.  If this sounds too overwhelming, professionals like MMT Advertising, can help with this final step.

A bit of elbow grease, but the rewards will be worth the effort!


Got a strong online marketing presence?  Keep following Nebraska’s retired educator, K. Carlson, and you will.

Five Ways To Spruce Up Your Healthcare Blog

bloggingManaging a healthcare blog requires more than solid and reputable information to share with your visitors, your patients, and all other individuals interested in taking care of their own health.

When you have a healthcare blog, ensuring it is visually appealing, accessible and relevant are also key factors in determining the amount of success you are likely to experience online and in your office. There are a few ways that you can ensure your healthcare blog is reaching as many individuals as possible, regardless of the type of content you are focusing on or what field of medicine you practice.

Take a few of the following tips to revamp your healthcare blog and make the most out of every article you post.

Determine Your Target Audience And Demographic

Setting up a successful healthcare blog requires insight into the target audience and demographic you desire to reach. Understanding the age group, gender and even the interests of the individuals you intend to appeal to will help you coordinate your logo, color scheme and the overall look and layout of your blog once you launch it live. Not to mention, understand your target audience inside and out will help you craft content that appeals to them directly.

Find out why your readers come to your website. Alternatively, find out why other potential readers prefer going to a different healthcare blog. The answers to these questions will help you cater everything from the topics to the featured images to the very readers you’d like to reach. The more knowledge you have about the audience you want to appeal to, the easier it is to reach them.

Allow Your Visitors To Comment And Join In Discussions

Adding commenting functionality to your healthcare blog will keep visitors coming back for more, as well as interested in sharing their own thoughts and opinions regarding the topics you’ve posted about, the articles you’ve cited, and so on. In other words, giving your readers a space to interact with you and each other in is a great way to make your blog into a virtual hot spot.

Further encourage activity on your blog by asking questions throughout your blog posts. This will make them more likely to share your content with other family and friends, increasing the total number of visitors and page views you are able to receive regularly.

Implement Social Media Tools

Implementing social media tools and virtual pages are key factors in finding success in the online world, especially in the blogosphere. By creating Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even LinkedIn profiles that represent you professionally, as well as promote your healthcare blog, you can greatly expand your audience without the traditional investments of advertising and marketing campaigns.

You can also add different social media tools directly to your blog that will allow your visitors to virtually “like” or “share” the content you choose to publish with their own circles of family and friends. You’ll not only become more active in these communities, but you’ll also become more relevant in the healthcare industry, both online and off.

Create a Visually Appealing Layout

Having a visually appealing layout is essential when you want to attract first-time visitors on your site to stay even longer and to browse the content you have to offer. A great layout will also keep retuning visitors interested and alert. In other words, no one can say that your blog bores them!

A visually appealing layout may require market research and the ability to streamline your logo and the remaining colors you choose to use throughout your blog. The more visually appealing your layout is to others, the more likely you are to receive return visitors and referrals to others who are interested in the content and information regarding health that you have to offer.

Cross-Test Usability on Multiple Browsers and Operating Systems

It is absolutely vital to cross-test your website or blog using various browsers and operating systems. Because everyone browses online using different resolutions, browsers and operating systems, ensuring your blog properly loads in different situations will keep visitors happy and able to access your content from anywhere.

Many bloggers and medical practitioners don’t consider these sorts of aspects when optimizing their blogs and websites, but they can make a huge difference to your readers. Furthermore, offering a mobile version of your healthcare blog will also increase your readership, especially with the boost of smartphones available on the market today.

Sprucing up your healthcare blog is a great way to build a positive reputation online while also boosting your own credibility, regardless of the healthcare industry you represent and the type of information or research you plan to present. The more in-tune you are with maintaining a modern and appealing website, the easier it is to receive visitors who are more likely to share your content and come back for more in the future.

Pete Wise is a blogger working for 20/20 LASIK Institute Indianapolis. When I’m not managing the facebook page, I’m qualifying our patients for LASIK and scheduling appointments.

Essential Tools For The Medical Office

medical-toolsThere are some tools and furnishings, such as medical chairs, that you are bound to see in almost any modern doctor’s office, whether big or small, urban or rural. While some medical tools are superfluous and others are geared toward certain medical specialties, there are essential tools and pieces of furniture that any general practitioner is bound to have in this day and age. Here are a few of the most essential tools and furnishings for the medical offices of today:

Medical Autoclave Sterilizer and Instruments

An autoclave is necessary to ensure that all medical equipment is sterile before use. The law also requires them for tattoo artists. New and innovative products such as the Tuttnauer Manual 2540M Autoclave have set high standards for sterilization, making unsanitary medical practices a thing of the past. This autoclave sterilizer is particularly beneficial for doctors and other medical professionals because it is durable, economical, efficient and has a large capacity. All sorts of instruments can be sterilized in such a hardworking machine.

Vital Signs Monitors

One of the most basic things a doctor may need to do is monitor a patient’s vital signs, which requires some good equipment. Brands like Bionet produce some of the highest quality and most reliable vital signs monitors, so physicians and other medical professionals can rely on their results. The Bionet BM3 Plus Monitor, for example, comes with a color TFT screen measuring 8.4 inches and a VGA output display that is highly visible for easy viewing. This type of vital signs monitor is ideal for almost any medical department and can be used by almost any medical professionals for monitoring ECG, NIBP, respiration, SpO2 and temperature.

Physician Stools

You wouldn’t feel comfortable if your physician was just standing there, staring at you, would you? What if they were sitting in a rocking chair, or relaxing on a couch when you entered their office? Only certain types of chairs will do. The right seating should make a doctor appear alert, responsive, ready for action and still comfortable and relaxed. Physicians’ stools are more often designed for comfort and style these days, so patients and doctors both feel at ease. Hydraulic stools, such as the brushed aluminum and black aluminum ones available, are an ideal example of this – an elegant hydraulic cylinder adjusted with the foot is topped with a cozy seat for long days of exams and patient meetings.

Jason is a medical writer and specializes his talent on information regarding the medical autoclave sterilizer. He finds that has a lot of helpful information.

Flight And Fright: When Advertising Goes Wrong

fight or flight responseSome may argue that adverts that cause a scandal are just as effective as ads that elicit feelings of goodwill. They certainly attract a lot of attention, but they are risky, as sometimes bad publicity is just that, and the damage to a brand’s reputations can be long-lasting, if not permanent.

One of the latest examples of controversial advertising comes from a Cape Town-based security company called Xpanda’s, which has released a radio advertisement that is causing heated debate in the industry. Xpanda’s brand has been defined through its satirical, risky and potentially offensive marketing campaigns, and the latest ad conforms to type.

As expected, a few people lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA), which found that there were no grounds upon which to order the ad be withdrawn.

Advertisements of this nature are nothing new; in fact, the world is bursting with politically incorrect advertisers trying desperately to avoid commercial oblivion. Some succeed, and some seriously cross the line.

Oy vey!

Xpanda’s radio advertisement depicts a dialogue between two cellmates. The manner in which the conversation takes place is more important than what is said. The black man speaks in a grungy, unsophisticated accent, the kind that suggests a lower intelligence and which is reserved for mocking “the black condition” in South Africa.

The second cellmate asks him what he’s inside for, to which the black man replies that he was so hungry he walked into a baas’s (term used by black people to describe ‘superior’ white men_ kitchen and stole a roast chicken. The upshot is that the madam (‘superior white woman) slammed the Xpanda door in his face so that he couldn’t escape. He ends up in jail, and didn’t even get the chicken.

As the stereotype goes, there are no bounds to what a black man would do for a taste of chicken.

ASASA’s ruling

ASASA determined that the skin colour of the actors in the commercial is immaterial to the plot, therefore finding no reason to prevent the company from airing the advertisement. In essence, despite the offence it caused some people, the ad is still considered to comply with the requirements of legality, decency, honesty, and truthfulness. It is not considered discriminatory, no matter what a fair number of people may think.

Xpanda is not alone

In typical South African fashion, many dispute the decision made by ASASA, but it must be pointed out that the Xpanda commercial is nothing new among advertisers on a global scale. Consider, for example, Pepsi Co’s Mountain Dew internet advertisement created by rapper Tyler. The video on the website showed a battered woman on crutches looking at a police lineup; while on the other side of a one-way-mirror, the goat (the accused) is standing in the lineup next to stereotypically thug-like-looking black men, saying intimidating things to her in typically gangster lingo. She ends up too scared to press charges. The video was taken off the website after multiple objections were raised over the racial stereotyping and mockery of abuse towards woman.

Advertising companies all over the world are cashing in on this scare tactic one way or the other, and the decision-making process to flight advertisements of this nature on television or online seems to have become less painful. The controversial advertisement might make consumers think twice about using their trusted brand, but the stir caused magnifies the companies’ exposure. The advertisement’s failure to appeal to people’s sensitivities directly leads to the company being the talk of the town, and thus greater brand awareness.

While the benefits of the fright factor are instant, the damage caused by the flighting of this kind of advertising can only be observed or calculated over a longer period of time. There is a possibility that, with time, the consumer’s trust and respect for a brand might gradually deplete due to a repetitive risky marketing strategy. In the end, all we can do is watch this space.


Lindelwa Ndaba writes for a display brand specialist whose range of services includes exhibition stands for conferences, showroom displays, and trade shows.

Internet Marketing Predictions For 2013 (That Turned Out To Be Completely Wrong)

online marketing strategyOne thing internet marketers like to keep up on would be trends. Trends are going to have an impact on the way they are able to make money on the internet. So marketers want to be able to see them coming so they can make adjustments. Towards the end of the year each year experts come out with a number of predictions for the upcoming year that are supposed to be huge.

Often times these predictions are based on what is already happening or what they believe is going to continue to grow in popularity. But in some cases the predictions they make can be completely wrong. This causes problems for all sorts of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Predictions that do not come to pass often leave internet marketers or those who rely on the internet distrustful of future predictions. This is a bad thing because sometimes predictions actually can come true. But if someone invests the time and energy to alter their whole business model to follow something then they want to be sure it is going to pay off. When it doesn’t they are disappointed.
  • Predictions are often based on things that are already happening. So often times the predictions that come out will tell people they should invest more heavily into something then what they already are. People who decide to go this route take a risk because they might decide to get away from something that is already working for them. Instead they will follow the prediction and invest more of their time into something that is not as effective.
  • Predictions often are wrong because they are based on trends. The problem with trends is that they do not last long. Someone who is serious about making money online or using the internet seriously for any reason does not want to build something on quick sand. They want to build it on something they know is going to last and not fade as soon as something bigger and better comes along. MySpace is a good example of this.

Even though the year 2013 is still very young there are already some predictions that have not come true the way experts said they were. Seeing as how the year is still young we are going to focus on the predictions that if they were going to come to pass it would have already happened by now.

Failed internet marketing predictions for the year 2013:

In the year 2013 design is going to matter more than anything

There are certain companies that have really fancy websites. Some of these would include Apple and Pinterest. But a lot of other website do not have the same fancy design and graphics as the big boy websites might. So internet marketers were told that by adding certain graphics and design to their website this would help keep users attention and it would lead to more sales.

The internet markets that followed the prediction found out that design might make a website look better, but it does not translate into sales. Here is what ended up happening:

  • Internet markers who focused on design and graphics invested too much time in this and not enough time on the quality of their content or the quality of products/services they were selling. Because of this they ended up losing ground to competitors who although they might have had plain looking websites, they were offering better value all around.
  • The big boys can focus on graphics and design because they have the financial means to hire other people to do the work. Plus they are already established brands. Most people do not even buy the products directly from these websites, but by using other avenues.
  • People who decided to focus on design and graphics found out that because of the widespread use of smartphones and tablets people were not able to load up their websites as fast as they would like. In some cases the website did not load at all. So all the traffic a website could of got it did not get. What do you believe this does for sales? Having a plain looking website that is able to load quickly is better then having one with a lot of graphics or fancy designs, especially seeing as how a lot of people use a smartphone to access the web these days.

In the year 2013 Video marketing is going to dominate

Internet marketers already knew that making videos was going to be one of the best ways to get traffic in 2013. This trend has been growing for a long time now. The only problem is that as good as Video is it is just not applicable to all type of business. What the experts do not tell you is that you need a high quality video that actually offers a reason to watch.

Yes, 95% of what is watched on a short video is remember, which is way better than regular text. But the type of business you run just might not be suited for it. This can lead to all sorts of problems like those listed below:

  • You try to make a lot of videos, but you try to force things. Your video might not be suited for the type of audience that is going to be on video sharing websites like YouTube. People come to these types of websites most of the time to be entertained and not marketed to. The problem is that people associate video with YouTube exclusively and they believe if they do not use the existing traffic YouTube gets then making a video is useless.
  • The type of video you need to make you might not be able to put on YouTube or people might not be willing to watch it all with so many other choices. On your own websites your videos can be more detailed and they can be longer. On your own websites there will not be so much competition where people can easily click another video that interests them. Plus you own the video and not YouTube. When you put something on this website it becomes their property, because you are using their existing traffic pool.

There is a difference between predictions and trends. Trends are usually based on what is popular at the moment, but they can be unpopular tomorrow. As an internet marketer you cannot build based on this. Predictions are supposed to be about looking to the past in order to get a good idea of the future. Sometimes these predictions are wrong though, because there are just too many variables that get ignored. Plus people also tend to have confirmation bias.


Emily Smith is a freelance writer who is keen on writing about online marketing, online advertising, seo reseller program among various other topics.

Proactively Managing Domain Name Reputation Online

Both an entire corporation, as well as individual domain name owner are finding out that online reputation matters now more than ever with shady practices, ineffective products being offered and other problems arising frequently. Consider how potential domain buyers, employers, and long-lost friends looking to get back in touch go about finding about domain owners these days. Inevitably, they’ll perform either Google, Yahoo or Bing searches; what your domain name shows in search results can determine if you get sales, the new job, or an email from the friend you long to see again.  Protecting your domain name – and personal – reputation using these simple tactics should shield your good name.

Keep Domain Conversations ‘Within Morality’

If you follow the rule of not posting anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see, then your domain’s online reputation is likely intact. But maybe there’s something out there that you forgot about, like a curse-filled rant you made on a Linux User chat board years ago, or something you put across Warrior Forums about someone’s domain. Or maybe an ex-wife or ex-boyfriend posted nasty things about your personal hygiene habits. Most people have at least one vindictive neighbor, disagreeable family member or jealous co-worker in their lives, any of whom would be willing to slander your domain name online.

You can’t control every nasty or unreasonable comment people make about your domains online. Haters are going to hate. But being aware of what is being said about you can enable you to (carefully) reply to the critic, post new content that is optimized to push the negative comments down the page, or in some cases complain to the webmaster of the site and ask them to remove the comment.

Google Yourself

Do you take the time to Google domains within your portfolio, or yourself, every few months or so?  If you don’t, you should. Your social media activity, photos, even personal information about you can be found in a Google search. It’s important that you are aware of what people might be saying about you and what impression you might be making to others without even knowing it! You’d be surprised what consumers placed on Pissed Consumer, Rip-Off Report and other sites just to ‘get a rise’ out of you or your domain name.

Site Design Matters

Technology continues to evolve as new hardware and software are coming blazingly hot on the market. The use of the latest technology available continues to elevate not just businesses, but also the lives of ordinary individuals. The world of web designing is also vastly improving with new ways and means to build and design your business on the web. To this day, professional web designers have come up with new ways to improve, innovate and make your websites more user-friendly.  SEO design, when implemented correctly, will engage your audience, have nifty looks and will always have your best interests at heart.

Just Remember…

Google Alerts is not a catch-all system. For example, it doesn’t capture every mention; just the ones in the first page or so from the Google search results. It’s advisable for anyone checking their domain name’s online reputation to go beyond the first page or two of their results, especially if they think anyone might be motivated enough to search several pages into the results to catch items that didn’t make it into the Alerts.  Keep your domain portfolios clean, take steps to ensure your credibility, and your reputation will remain flawless.

Featured images:

Roger Klawinski is a freelance writer and domainer who follows domain trends, internet marketing and acquires domains from