Recently, when visiting our favorite Napa Valley winery, Chateau Montelena, my wife and I decided to take a tour of the agricultural side of the operation. The vintner shared with us the technique the winery uses to ensure the quality of the juice from the grapes year after year after year regardless of the climate–a technique known as “dry farming.”
As he explained the benefits of dry farming, I began to see a business metaphor emerging for how referral marketing works for those businesses that understand doing business by referral.
When vineyards are dry farmed, they are not irrigated, dry season or rainy. As a result, the roots of the vines must grow deep to get to the year-round underground supply of water, no matter the climate. This reminds me of how we teach business owners to develop deep-water relationships between themselves so that they can support growth no matter the climate–the economic climate.
Doing business by referral truly is not about getting rich quick. We want to be able to produce a bumper crop of referrals year after year after year regardless of the climate.
That is the gift of dry farming: the stability of the juice’s quality. Just like the dependability of Chateau Montelena’s wine, we feel that deep-water relationships ensure a dependability in our own business stability unavailable to the average business owner.
There is another metaphor from nature that helps to illustrate the strength of doing business by referral–that is the story of the giant redwood trees in Northern California.
The giant redwoods average a height of 85 meters or 250 feet! You’d think that with such an amazing height they would also have a deep, deep root system. But they don’t. They actually have a fairly shallow root system, much like our California eucalyptus trees. The California eucalyptus trees tend to blow over easily in heavy winds, but not the giant redwoods.
You see, the giant redwoods also use an amazing technique to remain upright when those around them fall. They intertwine their roots with the roots of their neighbor, thereby supporting one another when the winds come. When one is under the direct pressure of the wind, the others help to hold it in place, not allowing it to succumb to the destructive forces of that wind.
Relationship marketing puts you in a similar position as those giant redwoods. When you learn the intricacies of doing business by referral, you begin to metaphorically intertwine your roots with the roots of those with whom you are networking. When the economy pressures one member, the others help hold him in place!
This is why networking and relationship marketing are so important–especially in a tough economy.