Book Review – The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

The Referral EngineMany people, including Chris Brogran, wondered how John Jantsch was going to top his best-selling “Duct Tape Marketing” book. Wonder no more. His soon-to-be-released book, “The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself” is the answer to that question. [Full disclosure – I am an authorized Duct Tape Marketing coach, but that doesn’t mean I checked my brain at the door before reading this book.]

I have read numerous business books throughout my career and I would have to say I can count on one hand those that were truly useful. Most business books are long on theory and short on practical advice. Not books by John Jantsch, especially this one. The subtitle tells you what you really want to know – and he delivers. 

The first chapter, The Realities of Referral, does a good job in defining the issues. He outlines the 5 realities of referrals:

  1. People make referrals because they need to.
  2. All business involves risk.
  3. Nobody talks about boring businesses.
  4. Consistency builds trust.
  5. Marketing is a system.

In the next few chapters Jantsch outlines additional need-to-know information about referral qualities, systems, and strategies. But, the practical and actionable part of the book is found in chapters 6 through 13. Not only does he cover every aspect in depth, he also provides a “Strategy Action Plan” at the end of each of these chapters. Try to find that in most of the fluff that masquerades as business advice these days.

The topics covered in those eight chapters include: content as a marketing driver, convergence strategies, your customer network, a strategic partner network, receiving referrals, referral specific campaigns, real success stories, and starter suggestions for dozens of different types of businesses.

 Seth Godin is quoted in a jacket cover blurb as saying, “This book will pay for itself in one day.” That is certainly very possible, but readers need to remember that they have to put what they learn into practice. This isn’t the principle of osmosis you learned in high school biology. It’s a system that has already been proven in countless businesses. Jantsch has extracted the details of what works and put into a form that all business can use.

 I have been a big fan of John Jantsch and use Duct Tape Marketing extensively in my business. My copy of The Referral Engine is more marked up and highlighted than any other business book I own. I will put it to work helping my clients immediately. I highly recommend you get a copy for your business and teach the principles to all of your employees. If you don’t have time to do the teaching, that’s what our coaching network is for.

For links on where to buy the book and to download a free chapter go to the Referral Engine page on this website.


  1. Hey Thanks Phil – looking forward to coming out to Orange County to share the ideas in this book with your customers and prospects in June!

  2. Joe, thanks for reading. The book is the best I’ve seen on referrals. Everyone agrees that referrals are the best way to grow a business, but most don’t create a system to be more referable.

  3. Thanks for sharing this post with us. It’s really an amazing post. Keep posting the good work in future too.

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