When I researched building authority as a marketing strategy, I surveyed over 1,000 consultants at firms sized 1-200.

Referrals are the number one source of leads for independent consultants and firms sized 2-10, 11-50, AND firms sized 51-200.

The main reason that consultants rely so heavily on referrals for business development is because there is a huge requirement for trust.

However, referrals have a downside.

  • They are unpredictable.
  • You tap out your network over time.
  • When you pivot, you get the wrong type of referrals.
  • Your network size shrinks due to entropy: people moving jobs, retiring.
  • Having a dependency on referrals makes it near impossible to scale or change your business model.

That last one is really interesting to me because it can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy where if you’re consistently referred for the same type of projects, it becomes difficult to break out and offer new or different services.

Relying too heavily on referrals restricts your control over client and project selection, complicates scaling your business, and unpredictable referral flow leaves you vulnerable to market shifts and network stagnation, which can limit new business opportunities.

I am not totally against referrals.

In fact, like my opinion on owned channels vs social channels, I think different approaches have their place and can even work hand-in-glove together.

Referrals work very well with authority marketing: listen to my conversation with Steve Gordon where he talks about the power of combining referral marketing with a book.

For those who go the route of building authority, that path leads to the ability to:

  • command significantly higher fees,
  • scale your business,
  • not having to work with bad-fit clients,
  • being able to choose alternative business models.

For me, that’s worth the effort.

– Alastair.

P.S. I just opened a few spots for the pilot of my enhanced Authority Accelerator program, starting early January. If you’re an expert in your field and you have a high-ticket, transformative, impactful offer AND you have a commitment to integrity, i.e. you are the kind of expert who always puts your clients best interests before your own, this program might be a perfect fit for you.

Authority Accelerator is all about creating an authority-building and lead generation platform that will attract a consistent flow of high quality leads. There are only 2 spots left, significantly discounted for feedback and case studies. Your commitment is around an hour a week for the first 60 days. Interested? Hit reply to learn more. Act fast, doors close soon!