Why referral based businesses still need to brand

Share-a-SecretAt my networking meeting this morning, the roundtable topic was ‘Where do you get your business from?’

The answers, almost exclusively, were ‘through networking’. Undoubtedly influenced by the fact that we were at a networking event with the purpose of growing our business, but also because that’s a reality of small business. We focus on servicing the local community because it’s that reciprocal support that we rely on to grow our own business.

During that meeting, I too found myself realizing that almost all – no, all – of my clients have come through referrals. Either referrals through past and present business connections, or people I’ve met through networking events and word-of-mouth.

However, I still place a high value on marketing and branding, and would never advise anyone running a business to do otherwise. So why, when all of my current clients have come from referrals, do I think it’s so important?

Because consumers research. 

And we’re increasingly careful with how we spend our hard-earned money.

I can’t think of a single new product or service I’ve purchased in the past six months that I didn’t research first before purchasing. This ranges from a new globally recognized brand of facial moisturizer to a local artisan engraver.

Why? Because what they stand for, how they position themselves, and how they’re perceived by customers (THEIR BRAND) ultimately impacts my decision.

And I’d wager it does for you too.

And I do my research online. Full-stop. Even when a friend or family member recommends something, I still go online to form my own decision. Is their brand something I relate to? Is there product one I want to try? And if it’s positioning doesn’t speak to me, my decision is made.

Not every business needs a Facebook page, though if your target audience looks to Facebook when forming their opinion, then you gotta get one. But every business needs a website that’s optimized for mobile.

And every business needs a brand.

A recent statistic shows 83% of US consumers go online to research products before purchasing them in a brick and mortar store. That stat doesn’t include those who are just forming an opinion, or ‘checking you out’.

So here’s a question for you:

If you are referred to a company by a buddy or colleague, do you do any research yourself first before contacting them?

Maybe you’re too busy, and your friend’s opinion is all you need. But I’ma bet you do.


I help small and medium sized businesses connect with their audience with strategic, meaningful creative.

Contact me to find out how Bizbee Creative‘s graphic design and visual branding and brand strategy services can help grow your business.