Referral Marketing also known as “Word of Mouth” can be a steady source of renewable business month after month. Creating a successful referral marketing strategy starts with two essential ingredients. Those are an excellent customer experience and a systematic referral program based on a few simple ideas.
Your customer’s experience has to be memorable whether they are a new client or a loyal follower. That is what makes a business referrable to start. If your customer experience is average or sub-par, you can forget about people talking about your business at all. In his book, “The Referral Engine,” John Jantsch says it perfectly in Reality #3 of referrals: “Nobody talks about a boring business.”
Having a referral program in place makes it easy for those raving fans to pass around the good word about your business. A thoughtful referral program also rewards the fans for their referral. The trick is not to limit your thinking to discounts or gift cards. There are simple gestures that reward your brand ambassadors that deliver value and show your gratitude for their referrals. A simple question to ask when trying to think of the right reward is to remember what it is that your ideal client values. What would just be a thoughtful gesture that might be a little unexpected yet extremely welcome? It could be as simple as upgrading their next scheduled service. Here are five simple referral marketing ideas to get you thinking:
1) Customers know that you have options or upgrades on your products and services but don’t always feel the need to try them out. Why not offer a trial upgrade when they refer new business to you? Here’s an idea: A cleaning company can organize and clean out the pantry on their next visit to the client’s home.
2) Some customers are just so busy they don’t take care of themselves very well. Offer something that would allow them time to do something they haven’t done in a while. Idea: For a day care center, the busy mom who has been referring other moms to you would love to get one night out a month to visit friends or go on a ‘date night’.
3) Strategic partners are a great source for referral rewards while giving them an opportunity to get new business. Idea: The Chiropractor who is always advising her clients to make exercise a part of their routine can send referring patients to a free Zumba or Yoga class offered by a strategic partner.
4) A personalized recognition or small gift can be a huge gesture. Imagine the hairdresser who sends a handwritten card thanking the person who made the referral along with a small handmade hair accessory that is perfect for her client’s long locks. This might sound the same as a gift card, but think about it. The hair accessory was picked out especially for the client. The handwritten note says “thanks” in a very personal way.
5) Now for service professionals such as accountants, financial advisors and attorneys. Your clients rely on you for their most sensitive matters. Reward them with something helpful and personalized. Idea: Accountants can give out a personalized accordion folder to manage those tax receipts along with a checklist. Educational pieces of content such as a guidebook or journal that can customized for these brand ambassadors will help them get even more value from the business they already do with you.
The possibilities to creating valuable rewards are really endless, but the one thing to keep in mind is that they should be useful and relevant to your customer. Knowing your customer well enough is what makes this work. This will take some listening skills on your part as the business owner, but also encouraging your staff to do the same. Put some tools in place such as feedback surveys and encourage reviews to monitor the pulse of what matters to your customers. For the most part, it is a matter of doing something memorable not expensive. It needs to have some authentic thoughtfulness behind it. If your customer is referring you, it is because they have already felt a certain trust with your business. Reinforce that trust and watch the referrals come in.
Want to learn more? Download the first complete chapter of “The Referral Engine” by John Jantsch