How Can I Get People To Recommend Me?


See Play Buy

Have a pen and paper ready.

Here’s the problem: “My list of contacts is growing and they seem engaged but they’re not recommending me, how can I get people to recommend me?”

If you’ve got this problem, we’ll get it fixed shortly. Bear with me.

Here’s the same problem rephrased: “I’ve got this product and it’s really good, wanna recommend it?”

Why should they?

  • Why should they care about you?
  • Why should they care about your product?
  • Why should they care about your business?
  • Why should they risk their reputation on you?
  • Why should they do anything at all?

So let’s use the Acid Test and spin it around. Grab your pen and paper.

Choose any product in your environment. It doesn’t matter what (not anything you sell though). Look around your room if you need inspiration – your desk, a book, a pen, a gadget, anything.

Got it? You must select something before moving to the next step.

What would it take for you to promote the object you just selected right now to all of your friends? Write down every objection that comes to mind.

Do it now. All you can think of. Think of at least 10 objections.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and play some background music if you like. I call this my 10 in 10. It’s been great for my brain.

Only continue reading when you’ve written your list (it will be worth the effort I promise).


There are many reasons we wouldn’t promote some random object to people even if we knew them.

And if we don’t know them, or even worse we don’t know who made the object we’re trying to promote, then why would anyone want to promote us?

Here’s the question: What would it take for you to promote someone else’s product or service (like the one you just selected)? Reverse engineer it. What would have to be done to that product to make you happy and willing to promote it?

The answer is not in the list you wrote. It’s in the fact you wrote the list at all. The answer is Objections. Your audience won’t (happily and willingly) lift a finger for you unless there’s something of at least equal value going back to them (and that’s before we get into whether the product is of value to the people they know).

AND that value is ONLY in the eye of the beholder. What we value is different to what others value.

Some of our values may overlap – but when it comes down to it, it’s like this: some love this, some love that, some want this, some want that, some don’t want anything at all, and so on.

And even when we get a value match, it still needs to be transactional. We find it hard to live with something for nothing. You can’t even give money away. Very few trust it. We expect to do something for money – even if it’s robbing a bank (robbing a bank takes work and risk – ethics withstanding obviously).

It’s how we’ve been brought up. We’ve been highly trained to be transactional. Chores around the house for pocket money. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. You do me a favour, I’ll do you a favour.

But we can be retrained. If you win someone’s trust and you start giving away free stuff in exchange for contact details, you do two things:

  1. Build an expectation (more free stuff?)
  2. Show them what your work is worth

It doesn’t alter their behaviour towards other people, just you. Think carefully about what you give away. Your reputation and value is built on it.

Think about a time when you dithered over a choice based on price. If you knew the product inside out, and you trusted the manufacturer to honour in full any guarantee no matter where you bought it from, you would still question an unbelievably cheap deal (is it real? is it a fake?).

You might even spend a disproportionate amount of time checking up on the person who was making the offer (if you really wanted the product).

The lengths we will go to to verify someone’s credentials are amazing. As are the lengths we won’t go to if we have justified to ourselves that we must have it now.

In 1961, Lavidge and Steiner published a paper called the “predictive measurements of advertising effectiveness”. It outlined 6 stages in the selling process. Later it became known as the Hierarchy of Effects.

Here they are (there’s a neat infographic of this below):

  1. Awareness
  2. Knowledge
  3. Liking
  4. Preference
  5. Conviction
  6. Purchase

First we become aware of a product or service. Then we learn something about it. Then we decide if we like it or not. Then we start to create a preference for it, which leads to a conviction that this is what we want, and finally we buy it. I call this the See Play Buy process.

What Lavidge and Steiner failed to point out is that this is not a one-way model. People can get to the preference stage for example, then go into a new state, a zero or negative one just by reading a bunch of (bad) reviews. Back in 1961 the only way for that to happen was through word of mouth, and even then, it was mostly contained locally.

But it’s interesting to see the flow – and to be aware that if you want a customer, client, prospect, acquaintance, or general member of the public to start promoting what you do, there is a mountain of work you must do to overcome all their objections.

And when you’ve done that, you need to think deeply about the transaction process that must take place. The value exchange that needs to happen.

Have you ever been asked to recommend other people? I know I have. Some have come straight out and asked me sight unseen. Anyone who does that tells me certain things about them. They educate me – I now know not to trust their reviews.

Those who I do trust have been through a process with me. A process that has answered every objection I may have had about them. They are the only people I would ever recommend. My recommendations are a serious part of my reputation.

The world is full of advice, and this article is just more of the same. But it comes with a caveat. A caveat of trust. Writing articles like this helps build my trust. It tells my readers who I am and what I care about.

Going through the process of figuring out every objection there is to your products and services will tell you everything you need to know about getting anyone to willingly and happily promote your stuff.

If you would like me to promote your stuff, you need to overcome every objection I have about it. And that includes wasting my time even looking at it, let alone talking to you if I don’t know you. Objections are tough – but they are the holy grail of business.

Objections are real. They are everyday. There is no short-cut to the process of winning trust.

Just knowing there are no short-cuts is a valuable thing. It gives you permission to spend time to really understand what you’re selling, who your audience is, and what your market wants.

Hierarchy of Effects - See Play Buy


About the author 

Quentin Pain

Quentin Pain started his first business, a courier company aged 23. He sold it 4 years later and used the profits to start a recording studio. A couple of albums later, he started two software companies, the last one being Accountz, which he grew from zero to 36,000 customers and retired from in January 2013. He is a director of ProofMEDIA, a specialist digital consulting business. He's also a published author (including a Dummies title), and has won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year. Copywriting is his speciality and he runs 3 groups on Facebook under the Science of Copywriting brand, which combined has well over 180,000 members. Quentin is also Founder of the International Copywriters Association and former SEO Lead for Circle Health Group, the UK's largest private hospital group.

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