Branding for referrals: two principles

Many, many businesses rely on a referral pipeline for growth and profit. You know if you’re one of them.

So can you develop a brand that helps you get referrals? Can your brand stimulate word-of-mouth “buzz” and generate referrals from qualified prospects?

I think so.

We’ve heard a lot about experiential marketing, permission marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and relationship marketing in the past ten years or so. Over that time, I’ve read and observed – always from the perspective of what it all means to branding and how branding can contribute to referrals.

There are a couple of ideas I’ve come to call the “principles of referral branding”. Though there are undoubtedly more, I think the following, if followed, will increase the number and quality of referral leads you can generate through branding.

First, I doff my hat to Scott Degraffenreid, a “social network analyst” and author of Embracing the N.U.D.E. Model – The Art and Science of Referral Marketing. That little book is based on his work in statistically analyzing major research on the behavior of referrals of prescription drugs by doctors and their patients. Through his analysis, he isolated four attributes of a product or service that helps generate referrals. Those attributes: Novelty, Utility, Dependability and Economy: the N.U.D.E. Model.

If you have a mixture of those four attributes people will refer your service or product to others.

Now why are those specific attributes important? Two reasons: Because unless they are present the product or service is not memorable, and because the referrer will only look good in the eyes of their associates if those characteristics are present.

Remember this: above all else, a referrer wants to look good in the eyes of those he or she refers a product to. That’s why people make referrals.

So the two principles I advance for branding for referrals are pretty simple:

One: Build your brand by incorporating and communicating the N.U.D.E. attributes.

Two: With every branding decision, ask yourself if it helps or hinders a person’s ability to look good while referring your product or service.

I’ll blog further about referral branding in the next couple of weeks, but for now, just remember the N.U.D.E. Model.

Martin Jelsema

2 thoughts on “Branding for referrals: two principles

  1. Good stuff, Martin. Actually, it’s an encouragement to me as I examine my pharmaceutical consulting business in light of the NUDE model – I think it fits!

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