While meeting with a potential client, the other day, I saw a common mistake I see among small business owners again and again. He was focused on advertising strategies while ignoring a great source of leads: referrals. And I am not talking about just asking for referrals. I am talking about building a system to regularly generate referrals. Why focus on referrals? They are the best and cheapest leads you can get. When someone refers a prospect to you, you already have a certain amount of credibility that comes from the person who referred you (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot). Plus, the prospect has already been screened to some degree. They know a little about what you do and presumably have the resources to hire you. So, you should look at ways to consistently generate referrals for your business. Three ways you can generate more referrals are: Client Satisfaction Survey - Asking clients about their satisfaction with your product or service is always a good idea. And for those who are very satisfied, you can also ask if they know of anyone else who could benefit from your product or service like they have. It’s a good way to catch them when they are feeling very positive about working with you. Plus, if you build it into your system to survey clients at the end of a project or on a regular schedule, you can generate referrals more consistently. Lead Magnet - A lead magnet is something that clients and referral partners can easily share with others. This can be a PDF (such as the one I created: Unlock Your Growth Potential) or an audio file, or a video. The goal is to provide them with useful information and position you as an expert in your field, which I expect that you are. Your client or referral partner can then share it with others without having to do an “introduction”. It makes referrals a lot lower pressure for the referrer. Newsletter - A newsletter can be electronic or print. The important thing is to be in front of prospects and existing clients on a regular basis. This helps keep you top of mind when they are presented with their own challenges or talking with a colleague about them. I had a student from my UCSD Extension class refer me two clients recently. We had not spoken in nearly 5 years, but he had been getting my newsletters all of that time. So, you should be looking at how you can get more of your best and cheapest leads before looking at spending money on advertising.