Referral marketing allows your loyal customers to “sell” for you by referring others to your business. Sounds great , right?

Unfortunately, getting helpful reviews and referrals is not as easy as just providing good service or a worthwhile product. The disconnect is seen in a Texas Tech University study , which revealed 83% of customers admitted they were willing to write a review or refer people to a business after a pleasant experience, yet only 29% do. So, how do you get those customers who are willing to review and refer to do it?

Believe it or not, the chamber can be a tremendous help to your business and its referral marketing efforts. Here’s how:

First, for brevity’s sake, we’re going to assume you have something worth referring. We’re going to assume you have a good business with excellent services or products. We’ll also assume that you provide an above ordinary customer experience. People don’t write reviews on “fine.” Good is adequate and doesn’t spark enough desire in a customer to refer you. You need to excite people by what you offer them. The best way to do this is to improve the customer experience. Provide excellent service and a welcoming atmosphere and you’ll be well on your way to your first (hundred) reviews and building a referral culture. But you don’t want to stop there.

How the Chamber Can Help Your Business with Referrals

First, the chamber has many active members. These people understand the importance of community. Being plugged into that network will bring you a handful of referrals and reviews with very little effort. Imagine what you would have if you worked at it!

Try these ideas:

Host an Event – The chamber is often looking for places for events. If you have a business with room for a few dozen people or more, this is a clever way to get active members through the doors and sampling what you have. The chamber will often thank the venue publicly as part of the event but ask your event coordinator to mention that reviews are as good as business and you would love for those in attendance to share their experience online. Don’t forget to mention the most valuable sites for you such as Trip Advisor, Yelp, or whatever fits your business or industry. You can also create table tents or signs with QR codes that will help people go directly to the review site. When creating a referral culture, you want to eliminate all forms of friction in order to get people to leave reviews for you.

Sponsor Something – Another terrific way to get noticed by members is by sponsoring something. Just make sure that if you’re sponsoring something to strengthen your referral marketing that there is a direct connection behind what you’re providing and what sort of business you have. For instance, a food sponsorship as a restaurant is a great idea especially if you bring tasting samples of one of your main dishes. This allows attendees to review your food easily. Sponsoring a drink tent at a golf tourney when you sell insurance probably won’t  get you immediate referrals but may get you customers who could refer people down the line. In that case, referral marketing is going to be a long game for you, not a short one.

Be Helpful – Business people who believe in “what goes around, comes around” do well in referral marketing. Yes, there are some industries like food and hospitality that drive people to share their experience immediately. But if your service or product is less “sexy” you need to think about building that relationship and the chamber will help you do that.The chamber offers a lot of ways you can be helpful to the community. When you provide your time, knowledge, and expertise for free or with no expectations, people will begin to like you. Customers do business with people they know, like, and trust. Effective ways to do this include: Contributing your industry expertise to a chamber blog post. Chambers have a large reach and your knowledge will be shared widely.

Presenting at an event – Volunteering with the chamber in an area you know a lot about. If you’re looking to improve your referral marketing, be upfront with the chamber. They can help you get in front of the right audience and motivate people to become more active referrers. Don’t assume that because the Chamber helps with marketing and getting you exposure that they will be working on the kind you want. If your goal is more reviews and referrals, tell them. They have a wealth of knowledge and can help you create a referral culture.

Finally, once you have the reviews coming in make sure you address each one good and bad. People took the time to write and share them. You should acknowledge each one. Plus, others will see that you do and feel that you care. This is all part of the giving economy and will feed your referral engine.