Referology: How To Use The Science Of Referrals To Attract Your Dream Clients With Edwin Dearborn
Do you want to create a system for your best clients to offer and facilitate referrals? Then you have to understand the science of referrals using referology. Mitch Russo presents Edwin Dearborn, the CEO of Premiere Lead Systems and author of Referology. Edwin talks with Mitch about how the first thing you have to do is to change your mindset. You can move from a place of accepting referrals to being proactive in causing them. The next step? Assess the resources you already have. For more actionable steps, tune in!
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Referology: How To Use The Science Of Referrals To Attract Your Dream Clients With Edwin Dearborn
I have something very special for all my coaches in the audience. As a coach myself, I realized that I had been spending about 30 minutes between sessions doing admin. I had five applications all open at the same time on my screen for note-taking, spreadsheet, browser and Zoom. I was spending so much time dealing with all the stuff on my screen that I hardly had enough time to coach. I decided to get myself some professional coaching software.
I couldn’t find any that was easy to learn, low-cost and simple to use. I did what I hope all of you great entrepreneurs do when you find a problem that hasn’t been solved, you solve it and that’s what I did. I built a SaaS platform for coaches. It’s for you. It’s called ClientFol.io. For $20 a month, you can manage your entire practice, unlimited clients, as much notes as you want. Everything you need at your fingertips and produces professional-looking homework to boost the way you appear to your clients. Give it a try at ClientFol.io. See what you can get because, let me tell you, it’s worth the money and it’s fun to use.
Now, on to my guest and his incredible story. As with most of us, my guest started working in corporate to find his way and practices hard one skill. It’s funny, we all start somewhere, but we don’t end up where we think. In this case, my guest is like us. This led him into basically asking a simple question, which is, “How can we build the business? How can we get more clients?”
That set my guest’s imagination on fire. From there, over the next several years, he carefully constructed a system of creating a great environment for his best clients to offer and facilitate referrals. That’s when he realized it was his superpower. I want you to meet Edwin Dearborn, the author of Referology. He’s here to help us all make some money. Edwin, welcome to the show.
Mitch, thanks for having me. I feel very honored that you brought me on.
You’ve created something of value here, Edwin, and that’s what we try to do on our show. We bring folks on who could add value to our community and you’re one of those people. Tell us how this all gets started for you.
Originally, I worked with my parents, who owned a travel agency in the ’80s. I was nineteen years old. That was back in the ’80s when marketing was Rolodex cards, flyers and ads in the local paper. As a small business, you couldn’t access television or radio necessarily. I went to Orange Coast College in Orange County, California. I decided to take a class in Advertising going, “I might as well learn about this if I’m starting my business career. Let’s take some business classes.” That advertising class sparked so much at me. I was like, “This is something I love.” I loved the psychology, the design. There were so many elements about advertising and marketing, but it spoke to me.
I have to say though, we’re lucky when we find those. Most of us think of college. In fact, most of my education was a wasteland. It wasn’t until you had that one moment where one individual class or teacher sparked something in you and that caught fire. Tell us what happened after that.Look deep within yourself to find out how you could change. Click To Tweet
We’re limited in resources. I thought, “I’ll do well-designed flyers.” I was reading books by Trout and Ries, all the classics, and I thought, “I’ll go around the business parks and I’ll hand out flyers.” To my surprise, here I am, nineteen years old and I’ve never been in the business world. My mom and dad are like, “Those flyers are working. We’re getting phone calls. We’re getting clients. We’re selling international tickets. We’re selling cruises.” Of course, I expanded it. Within a year and a half, we were doing over $1 million in sales, in travel sales. $1 million in the ’80s was good money. I thought there was something to this.
I then met a gentleman who ran an advertising agency. He heard about my passion for it. He offered me a job. Then I got to work in an actual advertising agency for two years. I was now graduating, not through reading, which I continued to do, but I got to work in it and be mentored and see the daily grind of what it took to create campaigns for everything, from selling seafood to financial services. I realized that this is an actual technology that can bring success to a business. That put me on the path for the rest of my life, working in sales and marketing up to the point of now.
I moved to Las Vegas after a very difficult divorce. I don’t know if there is not a difficult divorce, but for me, it broke me not only emotionally and mentally but also broke me financially. There was that point of having to start all over again. I’m sure that’s something that other people have maybe gone through. Maybe it wasn’t a divorce, but for me, it was a turning point. Vegas, to me, was a new chance to begin. I had good friends out here. I literally came out here with nothing, Mitch. When I say I had nothing, it was a car full of stuff and a bunch of debt. I was hustling and trying to rebuild my life and my mindset.
In that journey of looking deep within myself to find out how I could change, I got fortunate that my content started to resonate with people. I got on the board of some good companies. I started to make more money, and then the pandemic hit. All of a sudden, people were losing their jobs and we couldn’t go out. That was another paradigm shift that, for me, I had my Jerry Maguire moment. Staying up at night, I had one of my last clients. I was like, “Am I going to go broke again?”
I’m having a glass of chardonnay late at night and my client calls me. He’s all upset that he wants something now. I said, “I had two glasses into a bottle of chardonnay. Can you give me until tomorrow morning to solve this problem?” He started yelling at me, so I fired him. I’m like, “I fired my most profitable client during the pandemic.” That’s when I had my Jerry Maguire moment. I stayed up that night and I wrote my mission statement. I sent that mission statement out in my email. It was the greatest financial decision I ever made. I attracted my best clients and my best partnerships after that.
I also want to share with you that something you said in the show is something I think many of us can identify with. I married an alcoholic and ended up with a very sick woman that I was married to, who later abandoned our family. I ended up joining a group called Al-Anon, which is for the families of alcoholics. They had a phrase that I remembered when you were talking. It was that you were given, as I was, the gift of despair.
The reason we call it a gift in Al-Anon is because it takes us to someplace we might never have gotten to without it. Your entire rebuilding process came from having to dig yourself out of that terrible situation you were in. It was compounded by, as you call it, your Jerry Maguire moment, which led you to have created that incredibly powerful mission statement. You then have that resonate at the level that it did. The other part I want to add here if you don’t mind, it’s a little bit off the pace, but I believe that everything happens exactly the way it should.
What I mean by that is that yes, you’re you fired your most profitable client. You had no idea what would happen after that, but it happened exactly the way it should, the way it was supposed to. It led you to write that incredible mission statement, which later opened up a whole new world for you. Do you see what I’m saying? Here you are. You’re finally in a place where you’re generating revenue. You’re doing well. Tell us how the whole Referology system came about.
During the lockdown, a lot of us had time because we were isolated. I decided that it was time to do some deep study and relook at the basics of business and get back to the fundamentals. For whatever reason, I don’t know what sparked that. I was like, “Referral marketing, we all love referrals.” If I called you and said, “I have a referral,” you’d be out the top. We then ask, “What’s your proactive strategy to create more referrals?” Nobody has them. I said, “In between the love of referrals and not knowing how they come about, I need to fill my own mind.”
It became this curiosity. I started watching videos on YouTube about anybody who had anything to say about referrals. I started buying books about the subject. I started reading them voraciously. I’m the type of person that when I read, I stop and think and I take notes. I don’t only flip pages. If somebody says something, I’m like, “I wonder how I could use that?” I’m always asking those questions. What does this mean to me? How would I use that? How could I fit that into a strategic activity?
We’re very much the same way. When I listen to a video or I am reading a book and I have access, I’m always taking notes. That’s why I use a program called Evernote. I think Evernote was designed to clip web pages or something. All I use it for is to collect snippets of things I’ve read and videos I’ve watched. You’re right. You get such incredible information if you capture it. One or two glasses of chardonnay in, a lot of that gets lost.Assess the resources that you already have. Click To Tweet
It does it or it gets altered. Here’s the thing. Usually, my study time is in the morning after I’ve had a good rest. I’ve had a cup of coffee. I’ve got the caffeine running through. I usually go to a coffee shop to get away from my home office, get that exterior feel away from my noise and mess. I sit down with a book and a cup of coffee and explore new ideas. Those notes that I took then became the foundation for my book Referology.
I didn’t think it would, though. I didn’t sit there and go, “I will take notes and thus, write a book.” I started taking notes and reviewing them. I was like, “I think I’m stumbling upon something,” Not necessarily new, but my own spin on it and here’s where I believe it is part of my superpower. I can break it down into digestible actions that most people when you talk about marketing, get excited but get overwhelmed about what to do.
I believe that I can break down things into small bits of action. “Can you do this?” “Yes, I can do that.” Good. It’s not going to light the world on fire, but it can become a skillset that will give you another skillset. You’ll go from white belt to yellow belt, then we’ll get your orange belt and we’ll get you to get blue belt. Seven years from now, you’re going to be a black belt making a lot of money. It’s that gradient approach of giving guys skillsets that I think is critical to taking someone to the pathway to where they want to go.
I’ve interviewed many people who’ve written books. I’ve written, too. I have found that this process of collecting one’s thoughts is, I think, instrumental and planning what to write about. Here’s the key for me. It may not have been for you, but for me, I didn’t have what they called the spine of the book until a moment in time when all of it came together in my mind. I said, “A-ha. Now I understand how to turn this into a powerful volume of information that other people can use,” but up until then, it didn’t occur to me. That’s where that moment came for me when I wrote Power Tribes in particular because I realized that there was a real system there. I could articulate it well enough so that other people could use it. Did that also happen for you too?
I don’t know if I went through the same cognitive journey that you went through but what’s very similar is that I like to put things into systems or checklists because I’m like an assistance check like, “Good. I got it all. What do I do?” I’m a what do you do guy. Tell me what to do. Give me the instruction manual. I’ll execute. I tend to write and teach in a similar fashion because those are the people that I want to resonate with me. They go, “I’m on the same wavelength. Let’s work together. I have similar strategic thinking in this.”
Edwin, let’s switch gears here. I want you to teach me the Referology process. Where do I start? Tell me what to do.
The first thing that has to occur is your mind has to embrace the idea that you can proactively cause a referral versus playing defense. When I ask people, “Do you love referrals?” They’re like, “They’re the best.” “Great. Tell me how you proactively generate them when you need them.” The first thing is you have to go from a, “I love accepting referrals,” to a decision point of, “No, I’m going to proactively cause them.”
If you don’t shift your mind, that’s the first problem. It’s like, “Cause them? Proactively do something?” If I put these strategies into a mind that doesn’t think it’s possible, they’ll reject everything I teach them versus are you ready to be the Tom Brady and start throwing some touchdowns versus being the guy on the receiving end. Do you want to be the pitcher or do you want to be the catcher?
Clearly, the pitcher’s going to make more money than the catcher.
Pitchers make way more money than a catcher. Way more glory in pitching. You’re going to have to go out there pitching. Meaning you’re going to determine the speed, the pitch. It’s all under you.
Step one is a mind shift. I’m going to decide to cause referrals. What’s step two?
Let’s assess the resources that you already have. The reason why I say this is most people tend to look at what they don’t have and blame that as the cause of their problems. “I didn’t grow up with wealthy parents like you. I didn’t go to the right college like you. I don’t have your knowledge or marketing like you.” I’m like, “Great.” If we’re going to assess your resources, you’re sitting on your island like Tom Hanks. All you got is a volleyball and an ice skate and some other stuff that washed up.
You’re on a deserted island. I get it, but the first thing that he did after he washed up on the island was, “What do I have that I can use?” The volleyball becomes my friend. The ice skate is how I take my tooth out and build a raft. That’s what I got. We’re going to assess what washed up on your island. I grab a piece of paper. Most people don’t know what the word resource is. A resource is anything that you can use or leverage in your favor.
I love the fact that you’re defining your terminology. That’s something that I cover in great detail when I help people build their courses. That’s fantastic, so it’s anything you have.
Anything that you have possession of that you can use in your favor to get where you want to go. Now I go, it can be people, technology, money, your credit, influencers you know, your mom is going to loan you some money, or whatever. Who do you know? “I know these twenty people.” “Good. Do you have an email database?” “No, I don’t.” “Good, so that’s not on the list. Could you build an email database?” “Yes, I’ve got emails. I got business cards.”
“We’ve got some people we could put in an email database. How many followers do you have on LinkedIn?” “Three hundred and thirty-two.” “Good. How many friends do you have on Facebook and how much money you got in the bank? What skill sets do you have? What powerful people do you know?” It takes an hour and I list everything out. “This is everything you have. Is that correct?” “Yes.” “That’s a truck, my car, my cat, credit card.” Everything’s on the list.
It sounds like a Country Western song so far.
We’re going to come up with a bright idea of how to leverage those things to get you closer to the ideal way that you live, that you want to live. You know Bob, the banker. Bob, the banker, introduced you to some people into any opportunities or clients. I never thought of that. We’re going to develop an action of how to leverage that resource in your favor. Guess what happens? They know all these people and they don’t even have them in an email database. They don’t put any out any content like, “I’m this and I’m looking for this.” I say that every single day in so many words. Now you could bring to your database and your followers.
I’ve been in business now for a long time. I have an email database. It’s not very big, but I have an email database. I have podcasts readers. I have clients, past clients, current clients, subscribers to my software platform. To be honest, I’ve sent emails out and they don’t seem to have a lot of effect. I have a couple every so often who would respond, but not a whole lot. What am I doing wrong or what should I do next?
I don’t know if you’re doing anything wrong. What’s the frequency that you send out emails?
It’s not very frequent. If they’re on an autoresponder, they might go out every three days. Particularly that’s when someone signs up to my list. If someone downloads my free guide for publicity called ProfitStackingSecrets.com, they’re going to get on an education-based list that’s going to teach them all of those techniques that are in the free download. That’s going to take basically about 16, 17 emails before we run out of material.
There’s a couple of things that I would do. Again, this is all off the cuff. Modify it, change it as you see fit. The first thing that I usually have people do when they create content is I ask them, “Write down the 30 to 40 or 50 most common questions you get asked all the time. I want you to write them down exactly how they’re asked.” Also, write down what are the top 12, 20, 30 problems that you solve well that maybe they don’t know how to ask about the problem, but you observe it and they go, “I do have that problem.” Observations that you make, that you find, that you comment, that leads to resolutions.Come up with a bright idea on how to leverage what you have to get you closer to the ideal way you want to live. Click To Tweet
What I’m hearing is you’re saying to me, “Mitch, do you know who your clients are? Do you know the problems that they’re facing in their lives and their business? Do you know what you know that could help them?” These are great questions. I love this. What I’m thinking now as you’re talking is, “I do know a lot of that, but I’ve never quite utilized it to the way that you’ve described.” That’s great.
You write down the answers to those questions and email. The subject line is the question, how do I get more referrals on a monthly basis or is there a strategy to getting more referrals? However, the question is. Then I write the answer to the question. At the end of the answer, I go, “If you’d like to work with someone that can help you overcome these challenges, schedule a discovery call or let me know,” or whatever the call to action is.
You have some simple call to action but offer a lot of value first. I suggest you email it twice a week. What happens is when you do these questions and answers or these observations or your take on trends or your latest piece of content, after a while, people go, “Mitch is answering all my questions. He seems to be an authority.” Where does the word authority derived from? It’s derived from the word author.
In the Greek derivation, the word author means the creator of things. You can author a podcast, poems, a book, or a script. We intuitively assume that authors are authorities. If you were an authority, would you get more referrals? If they saw you as an authority about problems that they saw commonly being experienced by themselves and others.
Edwin, what you’re telling us to do here makes enormous sense, but this isn’t a referral system. This is a lead gen system, very nicely designed and well thought out. Where did the referrals come from?
Let’s say you’ve got 1,000 people within your database. How many people do those 1,000 people know?
That’s step two.
They’re out having problems. You mentioned your coaching software. I’m now aware of your coaching software. I go into your email database and you keep telling me you share my insights about how to coach software consultants. Each email goes over a specific problem that I have as a coach. Your software doesn’t solve a problem. It probably solves 10 to 15, 20 problems. They break all those problems down and you show me that one specific problem. I get that.
It’s either in video form, written and/or video form. I see as a coach, have you ever lost notes? I see this, so now I run into a coach and the guy goes, “I’m so disorganized as a coach.” You’re like, “You need to get Mitch’s software.” Do you see now how I become a referral source because you’ve been educating me on how to educate the guy when I see him having that problem, too?
What you’re trying to do is build a network of people who are cognizant and aware of what you do without even asking them to make a referral at all. You’re arming them with enough information. Hopefully, they’ll grok what you’re doing in case someone should come along and ask them a question. That is a great second-level technique. How do we elevate that further?
What I do is that the same information that I’m putting out on email is also my posts on social media. The question is how to expand that? This is where you should hire a virtual assistant to grow your connections on LinkedIn, as well as spend some money on using paid advertising to grow. It’s like, “How do I grow my list? If I’m sending that content out to 1,000 people, one could extrapolate that if I send it out to 10,000 people, I potentially could 10X my referrals. I’ve got great content, but I don’t have massive distribution.”
For myself, I have a virtual assistant who helps me set up appointments with you, as one example. Sends out invites to selected people through my LinkedIn profile. “Hi, I’m Edwin Dearborn. I do this. I’d love to connect with you.” She then sends out an acknowledgment, sending them to my landing page, “Get a copy of my free eBook.” What am I doing? I’m building my list.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, Edwin. The last estimate I heard is that we, as professionals in the business on the internet, are seeing somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 messages a week now. Maybe it’s more, maybe it’s less, but it’s massive. Why would mine stand out among all of the others? I like the way you’ve taken us through this. It’s very step-by-step. I can also tell that’s how your mind works, which again, makes a lot of sense. If you’re about to write a book about it, your mind has to work this way, which is incredible. How do we stand out from all the clutter in the world even if we have everything you’ve described?
First of all, remember, for someone to get your eBook or connect with you or opt-in for something, they’ve given you permission to market to them. They’ve given you permission to go, “Yes, I will be. When I’m on my feed in Facebook or Twitter or potentially, you could pop out with some content.” I’ve allowed that because I agreed to the connection. Number two, if your content is on point, it better resonate with some people because most people don’t get that part right. The consistent answering of questions. The consistent sharing of insights on how to resolve common challenges.
Are you saying that the Referology technology, the Referology process starts with this effort of delineating the problems, knowing your customers, sharing your solutions, creating the system to get it out there into the world then the referrals come or is there another part to this that we haven’t yet covered?
There are more steps. What I’m trying to do is make it transparent to my database, my influencers, people that know me, that I’m referrable. How can you refer? Do you know why 70% of people switch brands? Do you know what the number one reason is why people move from one brand to another? It’s because the brand originally that sold them, stop talking to them. They didn’t go from GMC to Ford because GMC pissed them off. GMC stopped talking to them. They started hearing about Ford. They walk on the Ford and they say, “They don’t lose brand loyalty because of upsets. They lose brand loyalty because the original brand stopped talking to them, stopped being in front of them.”
I can take a realtor or a dentist and go, “I’ve got 5,000 patients in my database or I’ve got 500 home buyers in my database.” Are they always buying from you and you alone or do they find other realtors? There’s a chance they might be. Why would they go to another realtor if they once bought from you before? Are they pissed off? Did you serve them well? Did you out of sight, out of mind? Why are you not getting the re-sign? You’re not getting them buying the second home from you. You’re not getting the daughter that wants to buy a home, their neighbor who wants to sell their home. You’re not getting the referrals.
They stopped communicating.
You stopped offering value because you were done.
Edwin, I could be here having this conversation with you for the next several hours because it’s basic stuff, but it’s so powerful because what you’ve done is you’ve pulled it all together. This is why I think it’s so important for me to read your book. I already bought it. Edwin and I had a chat. I love this story, so I went on Amazon and I bought his book. We have something special for our audience, which we’re going to talk about later.
We’re going to shift gears. Readers, if you’ve been enjoying this, you got to get the book. Edwin has laid all this stuff out for us. That’s my job as well. What we’re going to do now is we’re going to transition to getting to know Edwin a little bit better. We do that through a couple of questions I like to ask. Some call them silly questions and I call them questions that will allow us to know you. Here’s the first one. It relates to your values and whom you value, not just what you value. Here’s the question. Who, in all of the space in time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
Great answer. Tell me why.
When you study human history and you see the shift that happened in 1776, it was probably the greatest humanitarian effort to bring liberty to people. At the age of 33, Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence. He did read and write in multiple languages. He could speak Greek, Portuguese and French fluently. He was an architect and a connoisseur of wine. He was a new age man. To be able to sit down and delve into how many skills and knowledge this man had at the age and we will have an hour of his time to talk about the ability to create a Renaissance.
I’m going to do my best to arrange that meeting for you, but only if I could be a fly on the wall and listening. Would that be okay with you?
I’m so glad you chose him and the timing couldn’t be better with all of what we’re going through in the world. I would elect them for our next president if I could. Thank you for that answer and it’s very insightful. That’s why I said before. It’s how we get to know you. Here’s the second question. I like to call this the grand finale. This is the change the world question. Are you ready?
What is it that you were doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to change the world literally?
I believe that the core problem with so many social issues is literacy. If we could increase people’s literacy, they could understand money. If you can’t study, then everything is shut off for me. The moment you become literate, the world opens up. I would love to teach young children, young adults how to become literate and rediscover the joy of learning.
I’m getting the chills because I so resonate with what you said. I’m going to set up a little bit of a challenge now. Readers, if you resonate with what Edwin said and you know of a way that Edwin can help or even, I can help with the literacy project, please let me know. I’ll make sure to let Edwin know, too, or you could let us both know. Edwin, this is an incredible mission. I hope that you get some support from our little community here. Of course, you now know that you have my support as well. The next step is let’s mobilize this process and let’s get people to start learning again.Work with someone who can help you overcome challenges. Click To Tweet
Part of that is putting down the social media, the devices that distract us and that create unnatural shortness of attention span that we were not born with. We were born with quite a bit of attention span, but it’s been shortened by our products, if you will, and our distractions. There’s the challenge. This has been an incredible hour to spend with someone like you, Edwin. I hopelessness you had that same experience. We have yet one more thing. Edwin has a free gift for us. Edwin, I’d like for you to tell us a little bit about that gift.
You can go to my website, Branded Shareables. I have a free eBook, Referology. You can download for free. You’ll have to opt-in and give me your email. I also give you the option to buy it if you don’t want me to give me your email, which I understand. There are some people that don’t want the drip campaign that will inevitably follow. Also, if you go to the website, there’s a tab called Free Stuff. I don’t ask for your emails on that stuff.
I’ve got some worksheets and the ten principles of business growth and I have a poster that shows you the different ways that you can engage with an audience online and offline. They’re all learning tools broken down in simple stuff that I’ve sent people. I had this one dentist who took my poster. He put it on the wall and he goes, “Ed, I looked at it for an hour and I realized all the different ways that I’m not reaching my patients and engaging them to give me more referrals. The 90% of the stuff you put on the poster, I don’t do. I’m probably leaving a lot of money on the table.”
One of the things that I’ve learned about you in this hour that we’ve been together is that you’re a thorough person. You have a systems mentality. You understand the process. I was educated as an electrical engineer. What I learned about vacuum tubes in the 1970s didn’t have a lot of use now. However, what I got out of my education was the ability to think in process-oriented systems ways. You seem to have that quite naturally. I think it would be a great benefit for you to connect with Edwin to get his book and to download some of these amazing gifts.
I have to tell you. I’m cheating a little bit. I’m looking at them now. These are valuable. Go over to BrandedShareables.com. Edwin, thank you so much for your time. This has been eye-opening. This has been a great lesson for me. Now, you know why I do this. I get to learn from masters like yourself. Thank you for your time. I can’t wait until we get a chance to talk again soon.
Mitch, thank you. Having the opportunity to speak with you has also been very rewarding and I feel honored.
- Power Tribes
- LinkedIn – Edwin Dearborn
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