It isn’t a huge secret that word of mouth is the best marketing you can get. Businesses don’t always take advantage of this revenue opportunity. A commercial saying that your business is great is one thing, but your trusted friend telling you about how that business can specifically help you – that is priceless.
The trick is, you can’t “just go get it” – you have to earn it. Here are some ideas on how to foster a client referral program to build your business.
- You have to have happy clients first and foremost. Word of mouth works both for and against you. If your clients are happy, they may or may not tell friends. If they are unhappy, they are very likely going to tell several people.
- Ask clients about their satisfaction with your business. If they are happy, ask them to tell others. If they are unhappy, ask them how you can resolve their concerns.
- Tell existing clients (especially those happy with you) about your referral program. Make it conversational and include what’s in it for them and not what’s in it for you.
- If your business is based on regular use (hair stylist, accountant, etc.) you can offer a discount on the services they will get. Consider a program in which you can incent people to refer multiple people. It is nice to get a free haircut for a few referrals, but how about a nice gift for 10 referrals (obviously tailoring the number that is right for your business)?
- For businesses where repeat work is less likely or less frequent (such as construction or house painting, legal services, or car dealerships), a discount doesn’t make as much sense because the customer can’t use the perk easily. Instead, you might reward them with a gift of something fun to do with friends or family.
Avoid giving logo “stuff” as the perk for a referral. While it would be great for the customer to wear your t-shirt, hold your umbrella and hold your key chain and stand outside singing your praises – it is very likely going to end up at the bottom of a drawer taking up space and forgotten. Instead, give them a good memory that relates to your business.
- Here is a gift certificate for dinner – show off that new hair-do. (From a hair stylist)
- Another quarter has passed with you in the black – get a massage to relax for next quarter. (From an accountant)
- Take your new car out for a wine tasting on me. (From a car dealership)
What have you done to incent referrals that have worked?