There’s a form of marketing that has stood the test of time and that has the power to drastically increase your sales.
And you’re probably already doing it... (kind of).
It’s called referral marketing. Also known as word of mouth marketing (which, in truth, is only a part of referral marketing).
If you’re like most small business owners, you probably built your business based on word of mouth. Your first few clients came from your network, the next batch came from referrals from your clients, and on it goes.
But it’s not just small businesses who use referral marketing. The giants do, too, like Spartan, Uber, and the world’s largest nutrition school.
The thing is that most businesses are not using it strategically.
Left to their own devices, the occasional client or customer will refer.
But when you create strategic ways to encourage them to share (yes - even for free!), your sales can skyrocket.
How can you easily adapt some of the giants’ strategies to your own business?
1) Encourage them to share when they first purchase your product or sign up for your program.
Uber does this really well.
Immediately upon signing up for Uber, they give you the option to share Uber with other people, through email or social media.
You can use a tool like ShopSocially to set this up for your business.
Or you can go super old school and just email new customers, asking them if there’s anyone they know who might also be interested in what you have to offer (framing it around your service helps - like “Races are more fun with friends!” or “Bring a friend, save 50%!”). Setting up an online referral program is worth the investment in the long run, as it automates your referrals, reducing the need to keep track of who referred who over extended periods of time.
2) Have your clients or customers share when they’re using your product or service.
Authors have this down pat when they have their readers take pictures with the book they’re reading.
If you have a physical location (like a restaurant, store, or gym), you can encourage your customers to check in on social media, or take a picture and tag your business in it.
If you offer an online course, encourage your subscribers to share what they’re learning online. This is a great way for them to reinforce what they’re learning and start a conversation online.
3) Create a rewards program.
This works really well for membership-based businesses, such as gyms, massage therapists, and subscription services.
A rewards program is meant to incentivize your customers to share.
A local gym may offer a free month of membership in exchange for a referral who becomes a member. A massage therapist or other practitioner may offer a free service in exchange for the referral of a few new clients (see how Spartan does it here). A subscription service might offer an additional product, or a free month, in exchange for a new subscriber.
A rewards program works great if you aren’t just rewarding the referrer, but also the referral.
Notice how Spartan offers a free race, but they also offer 30% off the race for the referrals signing up. That’s what we call a win-win-win - everyone wins!
These are all super simple ways you can start to be more strategic with referral marketing. I know it sounds too simple to be true, but I promise you it’s not. By incorporating the first two strategies into a referral program I managed, we doubled the number of unpaid referrals - so not only is it possible, but it’s possible to get new customers for free, too!
How will you incorporate referral marketing into your business? Share in the comments!