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Surprising Research on Referral Marketing

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.49.26 AMPaper Title: Referral Marketing for Professional Services Firms

From: Hinge Research Institute

Length: 21-page white paper

Research database: 523 respondents.

Cost: Free


  1. Introduction
  2. Methodology
  3. Why Firms Get Ruled Out
  4. Conclusion
  5. About Hinge
  6. Additional Resources 

While this white paper was created primarily, the authors say, for professional services firms, its contents are worth reading for all business-to-business companies.  Referrals for all businesses are valuable.  These are not to be confused with testimonials, but are the one-on-one discussions that occur from one buyer or influencer to another.

Hinge found that of the 523 respondents, 72.1% said that attracting and developing new business is

a key priority, and 61.9% said that generating more referrals was their top marketing initiative in 2015.

They found that there are three types of referrals: 

  1. Experience-Based Referrals
  2. Reputation-Based Referrals
  3. Expertise-Based Referrals

Why it’s important:

Hinge found 14 reasons why buyers rule out referrals

(most often before they even talk to the company). 

 Hinge gives reasons for these types of referrals, with implied actions that can be taken to secure the referral.  In other words, Hinge doesn’t just tell you what people said, but what can be done about it.  They also give 14 reasons why buyers rule out referrals (most often before they have even talked to the referred company).  The ‘ah-ha’ in this report is why firms get ruled out before the prospective buyer contacts them.

In their conclusions, Hinge takes into account other research they have done.  If you are a professional services firm, read the report.  If you are not a professional services firm but rely on referrals, read the report.

 Disclaimer:  The SLMA reports on research papers offered to it.  SLMA does not get paid for the review.  The authors do not know about the review until it is published.  Hinge Research Institute is not an SLMA sponsor, but Hinge Marketing was interviewed on November 4, 2014:  Is a low cost enough to save email marketing as a lead gen tool?

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