McDonalds is Fast, Easy, and Cheap; Referrals are Not

“In this economy, developing a strong referral strategy is a fast, easy cheap way to build a strong business,” Palzewicz said. “Referrals are more important than ever because people are more careful where they buy and the words of satisfied customers, especially customers that are their friends, can be very powerful and more impactful than any other type of advertising.”

As is my habit, I was reading blogs, press releases, and other material on networking, when I ran across the above quote in a press release. I become very frustrated when I read information that is incorrect or misleading, not intentionally misleading but written by someone who really does not understand what the referral process is.  McDonald’s is fast, easy and cheap, but you cannot apply that to a solid referral strategy.

“In this economy, developing a strong referral strategy is a fast, easy, cheap way to build a strong business.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While networking might be considered fast easy and cheap, building a referral process takes time, it is a skill that must be learned, and requires a budget of time and money. When a client comes to me and wants to develop a referral strategy they must have a developed network that we can then develop into a proper referral strategy for their business.  McDonald’s is fast, easy and cheap, but it is not the first place you want to go if you are looking for a high quality meal.  While it is nice to sometimes have low level leads from fast, easy and cheap networking, it is not the way to sustain your business.

Let’s take a look at why the words of Fast, Easy, and Cheap cannot be related to developing a referral strategy.

Fast – A solid referral strategy is based on a relationship built on trust. Trust takes time, you have to be willing to take the time to build the trust. People are not going to refer business to someone whom they do not trust to make them look good. How long it takes someone to trust you depends, ask yourself, do you trust fast?

Easy – Once you have your systems in place for your referral strategy, it does feel pretty easy. Getting those systems in place and maintaining them is not easy, fast, or cheap. If building a strong referral strategy were easy, there would be a lot more very successful businesses generating high quality referrals. I know this is not the case by the number of businesses that hire me to help them implement a strategy and systems.

Cheap – Another big myth. If you are going to develop a referral system you must set a budget of both time and money. It is not cheap to belong to multiple organizations, have one to one meetings over coffee, lunch and even dinner, set up and implement a system of rewarding your referral partners, pay for travel to events and meeting, and get educated. Is it cheaper than running a TV Ad over and over, yes, is it cheap, no!

Anytime you go at something with the idea that it is fast, easy and cheap, you are bound to disappointed with your outcome.  Developing a referral strategy that works takes time, money and effort, but when it starts paying off, it pays in a big way.

In this economy everyone is looking for fast, easy, and cheap ways to build business, but if you apply that concept over a long period of time you are left with less that desired results.

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