Referrals are just a fancy way of saying "word of mouth" advertising, which is always the lowest cost and most effective type of advertising there is.
So how do you start to generate referrals?
First, start by asking for them. If your business has been around for five years, you probably have a number of valuable customers. Use your best customers to give you testimonials, or to refer new customers to you.
What will they get in return? Maybe a month's free services, or even a nice trip to an upscale restaurant or spa, depending on what your customer likes.
Most of the people you want to target simply don't look at the types of media you are currently advertising in. However, they will take the recommendation of one of their friends very seriously.
Another strategy you should consider is a host/beneficiary strategy. Try partnering with another business that caters to the type of customers you want and work out a deal in which they promote your business. Maybe you could clean an upscale boutique for a discounted rate in exchange for access to their database of customers, from which you would ask the boutique owner to write a letter recommending your services, to serve as both an introduction and a testimonial.
Start to think in terms of the relationships you already have, and you'll be surprised at the types of programs you can come up with.
You'll also be surprised how easy it is to get new customers this way -- customers that are more loyal, will stay with you longer, and don't cost so much to acquire.
Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. As an entrepreneur, author and business coach, he has owned and operated more than two dozen companies including his main company, ActionCOACH, which has more than 1,000 offices in 34 countries.