Developing new leads can be the most time consuming and expensive part of growing your business as an entertainer.
You can run yellow page ads, mail sales letters and have a snazzy website, yet still not get the results necessary to support your family. You can spend hours on phone calls and run up a huge bill and still not be booking gigs. This can be frustrating.
The dream of running a yellow page ad and having the calls pour in have long died and now you are in the reality of running and promoting a business.
During the summer months, I perform several library shows. I do not advertise this. There is no link on my website for library programs, yet every summer I have new libraries calling me to book my program. I have never actually solicited library programs, yet I can make a little extra money every summer from these shows.
How does this happen? Referrals.
Several years ago I did a show for my local library. The next year my librarian referred me to several other libraries and I did four libraries that summer. The following year, my librarian asked me to do a small flyer with my contact info, and she took these to a librarians conference. More shows that year. Every year since, I have received calls not only from these libraries, but they also refer me to other libraries.
The best thing with the referrals is when they call, they are already sold on me. I have great credibility because they know some of my satisfied clients. All we have to do is find a convenient date for their show. Fees are easily negotiated. Such a fun and easy way to book shows.
The best thing you can do for your business is cultivate referrals.After a successful program, ask your client to write you a letter of recommendation and also for five to ten referrals. Even if you don't get the referral names, get the letter. By sending copies to potential customers who may know your client, you increase your credibility. But, if you can get the referrals, these are gold. A week after your show, send a thank you note and again ask for referrals.
Be sure to offer your current customers a bonus for referring new prospects that actually book a show. Maybe a cash offer, or a gift card. Don't be cheap here. You want your customers talking about you.
By now you should have the idea that I think referrals are important. They are. I spent 15 years in sales management and my highest paid salespeople were always the ones that generated the most referrals. You are in the business of selling shows. To be successful, learn to get referrals. Discipline yourself to follow-up with past clients.
Now, I'm also going to give you a little method that can generate a lot of great referrals for you.
Next time you do a show, get a photo taken of you and your client together. Promise to send one to your client.
Using your computer, design a postcard with the picture on the front and your contact information on the back. Also include a blurb about the event, the date and other pertainent information.
Buy some nice glossy blank postcards and run off ten on your computer printer. Send them to your client with a thank you and a note that you thought they might enjoy a few to send to friends. Don't be cheap. Put stamps on the extra cards. You may also want to print a nice 8x10 and put it in a frame for them.
Believe me, these folks will love sending postcards to their friends that show them with "the magician" at their last event. These cards will also be kept by a group of people who will remember you next time they need an entertainer.
Sit down this evening. Think of a few ways you can increase the number of referrals you are getting. Referral leads are an inexpensive and highly effective to mushroom your business. Don't let them get away.