Every small business owner knows that one way to inexpensively build a client base is to get referrals from satisfied clients. Referrals are almost always the best new clients, cost little to get, and remain very loyal. So, how do you induce existing clients to refer new ones to you?
Dick Wagner, Marketing Coaching & Consulting based in Cape Coral, FL, points out that the people his clients refer tend to "match that client in outlook and perspective, so when a good client refers people, they are usually good clients. Make sure the person you're asking a referral from is one of your all-star clients."
Focusing on word-of-mouth referrals to help keep costs down is a great way to supplement your primary marketing strategy. "As my rates have gone up over the years, clients can refer another client to me, and I am often able to offer that new client the same grandfathered rate as the referring client gets.” Plus, "instead of spending on advertising - and I don't spend a penny - I'd rather pass on the savings to the customer."
Many entrepreneurs reward their clients for their referrals. "New-business revenue generated by a member is automatically deducted from the existing member's account," says Wagner. "If my monthly consulting fee is $1,000 and you refer a new member who pays $1,000, the referring clients’ fees are waived for a month."
Some firms reward both the existing and the new customer by offering existing customers the opportunity to send an e-mail to their contacts with a referral code. If the referred person signs up for service, both customers get a credit to their accounts.
Other small-business owners offer gift certificates for items clients would enjoy - chocolates, flowers, restaurant gift cards and the like. Finally, don't forget one old-school incentive: a straightforward thank you. You would be shocked at how few people say ‘thank you” today! When you do say it, it can mean a lot!
I often send a handwritten thank you. It goes a long way toward strengthening client relationships. Also, it today’s world a hand written thank-you is so rare that they make a huge positive impact.
Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant. 419-202-6745