7 Ways To Get Referrals For Your Business

This information is designed to give you insight into some ways and means of putting together a great referral system. Find out just how powerful a referral system can be. The important point is to have one! As you can imagine, there are literally hundreds of variations on creating a system to capture referrals within your business. 

This information is designed to give you a snapshot of the best ways to implement a referral system. Plus, you'll see some examples of what does and doesn't work.

Awakening the ‘sleeping giant’ within your business (and some examples for you)

Every business should have some short-term and ongoing strategies to build a strong referral-based business.

1. Have your customers give their friends a gift from you. Offer something special.

Make it possible for your clients (A clients especially) to extend an offer or gift from you to their friends and family. Some ways to do this could be through vouchers, letters or asking.

The gift could be a voucher for a facial or a half-price haircut if the appointment is made between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on weekdays (knowing that this is a quiet time). It might be a “How to Improve the Profitability of Your Business” booklet or a ticket to a special seminar or event. When gifting items you need to find something that has a high perceived value—that is, customers feel it's a valuable gift, whether it's a retail price or so on—and a low cost to you.

Reports are a great way of doing this because the value of the report is not based on what it cost you to produce it, which might be as low as $1 or $2. Rather it's based on the value of the information it holds for a potential customer. Look into bulk buying an add-on product from your suppliers and then passing it on as a special offer. For example, your cost to purchase such a product could be $2 (or $20, or $200, whatever is in proportion to your average sale), however the perceived value of that item, for example its retail value, is $8 (or $80, or $800). When you promote this offer, the customers don't know it cost you $2. All they perceive is that it has a high value and it's being offered FREE.

What could you offer that wouldn't cost you the earth, but would have a high value in your customers eyes?

2. Get an influential client (or associate) to send a letter singing your praises.

Singing your praises means endorsing you and your business!

Review your customer base and associates. Look for people who might have other colleagues or a customer base that meets the profile of your ideal customer types. They could be a great source of leads for your business. These would be clients with whom you have a close working relationship, ones you know are happy with your business.       

In this instance, you'd approach the client and explain. One of the best ways to be able to offer you more would be to grow the business, and one of the best ways to do that is through referrals. And then go on further to explain that you thought they might have some contacts who could get value out of working with your company.

To make it easy for them, it's a good idea to have a tool, like a letter, already drafted, which the customer or endorser could send out. You see, how you and your endorsers go about communicating with their clients (your potential clients) is critical. It should be an endorsement of your business and your products or services, and an introductory offer.

For maximum results, DON‟T just take their list and write to the listees.

You'll be much less successful if you say, “[Name] gave us your address and said you might be interested.” AND that sort of approach could undermine the relationship the source had with their clients. Which, in turn, could affect your relationship and certainly discourage that person from doing it again for you.

Ideally, your endorsers would send out a letter on their letterhead, signed by them. They are the ones who have a relationship with their associates or customers, and it is precisely because of that relationship that the results from this kind of mailing will exceed many others. So it's critical that the endorsement actually does come from them.

It's a good idea to help develop the letter, provide a special introductory offer, and even pay for any printing and postage, if needed. But go to any length possible to make sure it feels like a legitimate letter offering an honest, heartfelt suggestion from the endorsers.

For example the letter could go something like this:

Hello David,

David, you and I have been working together for some time now, and I wanted to let you know the team and I do appreciate it. We really do enjoy getting involved in building your projects with you.

So much so I wanted to do something special for you.

While I was thinking about that, I realised we might have something in common. You see, for a while now I’ve been working with ‘Jake & Jake Architects’ on project designs and joint management of construction projects.

David, they’ve been very helpful. In fact, they’ve been great. Bill and the team at Jake & Jake are not only talented, but have also made our life easier. In fact, working with them has helped us improve the way we get the job done—profitably.

And come to think of it, I thought they might be able to give you some value, too. As a property developer, I’m sure you’re always looking at ways to improve a whole project, from design through to construction. One way to do that could be to talk with Bill.

To be sure, I’ve arranged something special for you with Jake & Jake Architects. When you call Bill on 555-2233 and mention this letter, you’ll be sent a paper titled:

‘The key factors to improving design & saving on project costs—without damaging the integrity of your project.’

This is normally valued at $78. This time, it’s on us. Please do consider it a gift.

Better yet, when you talk with Bill and mention my name, you’ll receive a free consultation. (I’m sure you know how much architects normally charge per hour, so be sure to take him and me up on the offer!) Bill will be able to do everything from discussing a specific design with you through to explaining exactly why Jake & Jake are not your average architects.

This is complimentary too. David, please consider it our small way of saying ‘thank you for being a client.’ And please do take us up on this offer. You really could get some helpful tips for your next project. Better yet, all you have to do to take advantage of this gift is to call Bill now.

Until then, I’ll look forward to hearing about how it went when I talk with you next.


Bob Stone

PS David, I’m more than happy to introduce you personally, so please feel free to let me know when you’re planning to have your complimentary meeting with Bill, and I’ll be sure to make it.

3. Identify businesses that have the same kind of ideal potential clients as yours and have them promote your business.

From time to time, you may explore the possibility of using other businesses whose client base profile is similar to your own. Or people may have also looked to suppliers. You can handle this in a similar fashion to the above example.

4. Piggyback your mailing pieces.

Here you "piggyback" so to speak, or take part in someone else's mailing—when another business sends a mailer, a special promotional piece about you is included as well.

For example, when an associate's (or a client's) business sends out monthly invoices or a letter, they enclose a newsletter, flyer, special offer, letter, or some sort of endorsement.

It keeps postage or delivery costs down and has that awesome power of endorsement by association. If it really does target your potential customers, it could provide a great return on your investment.

Bear in mind that an endorsement is a referral. People are far more likely to purchase when the business is endorsed.

5. Put together an invitation-only event.

Make your clients feel privileged by running an invitation-only event to which they may bring a select number of guests. By allowing a limit, the event gathers a further air of exclusivity and makes the customers feel special.    

Closed-door sales, video presentations, or seminars with guest speakers are a great way to add value to your customers and gather referrals.

It could be a "Bring a Friend Closed-Door Sale‟ (where your customers and their friends and family can get in only with an invitation).

Or a seminar could provide information to help the individual or the business do more or have more. For example, a manufacturer or agency could offer a sales training or customer service seminar to train their customers staff. A landscaping or garden supply business could hold demonstration days on paving or designing a garden. Fashion shows and beauty workshops work well, too. It's important to place a monetary value on the ticket to add to its perceived value in the customer's mind.

Think about what could work for your customers, what they'd be interested in, what you can help them improve over and above just the use of your products and services.

The great thing about these events is that suppliers will often get involved. They might send special stock or equipment to help with demonstrations, they may send guest speakers, provide free samples, or help cover the costs of promoting the event.

These sorts of events are great simply because they make people feel special. All of a sudden they have an invitation to an exclusive event and can win kudos with friends or family by getting special tickets for them, too.

Plus, new leads are introduced to your business in a very positive light.

6. Throw a party!

Do just that. Throw a party for your customers. A real party with food, drinks, music—a celebration. It could be something as simple as a holiday party. Better yet, think of a reason for a party—Christmas in July, the anniversary of the business, and so on.  

Other great ideas could be specifically related to what you do for those customers. For example, a builder had great success by throwing housewarmings. As you know, like people travel in groups, so that builder knew that his first-home customers knew lots of other young couples looking to build or buy their first home.

So the builder decided he wanted to meet those other young couples. To do that, he offered every customer a housewarming with all the trimmings. All he wanted in return was the guest list. The builder would explain he was happy to throw the party because he wanted to show off the home he'd just built, be there to answer any special questions people might have, and celebrate as well!

So the customers would be asked to put together a guest list of up to 15 people like themselves and note the names, addresses, and phone numbers. The builder would offer a range of invitation styles, and the customers would choose the one they liked the best. Together, the builder and the couple would write and sign the invitations. The builder would pay the postage and kept the list.

The builder would supply the food and drink for the party and make sure the couple had everything they needed to have a fun night showing their new home to their friends. The owners would introduce the builder to everyone (he'd hand out business cards), show everybody through the home, and socialise. From that, he'd have some idea of who was in the market and he'd have a great time to boot.

A couple of weeks after the party, the builder would then send all the people he met an information pack about his business. A little while after that, he'd contact them by phone and find out if they wanted to have a free design consultation, valued at $XX.00 because they met at the party.

Some builders would probably think No way! That would cost a fortune. He'd go broke for sure! But really, all he needs to do is get just 1 sale from 4 parties and he will have covered more than his costs!

Another example: A children‟s clothing store could throw birthday parties for the children (every child had to be accompanied by their mother or father). A jewellery store could throw a mini-engagement party for newly engaged couples. And so on. What and how could you help your customers celebrate?

7. Purchase leads by offering a ‘spotters fee.’

In this case, gathering referrals becomes much more of a commercial relationship. You see, you could identify a business or an individual who might constantly be in touch with your ideal potential client. In this instance, depending on the lifetime value of your customer (that is, if it‟s financially worth it!), you could offer a fee for "spotting‟ potential customers and introducing them to your business.

For example, a representative from a manufacturing firm may call on your ideal customer every day to sell other products or services. Here, they'd be on the lookout for potential customers for your business. When they found someone and introduced that person to your business, they'd receive an appropriate financial reward. It could be $20 or $200, whatever is balanced with the value of that client to you.

Alternatively, this could be done in a less structured “you scratch my back and I‟ll scratch yours” arrangement.


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