Referral Marketing Communications Plan — Tip #3: Reward the Referrer

Referral Marketing Communications Plan Business IncentiveAs part of your marketing communications plan, when you ask your friends or acquaintances to refer leads for someone who might be interested in your services or products, many may give you a name or two. But to really rev up your referral responses and get lots of leads, promise a reward. They will suddenly think of long-lost relatives and old roommates who have been looking for someone in your business or with your qualifications for quite a while.

Rewards cost money, however, so, with these five tips, create a productive referral marketing rewards program:

  1. Reward referrals only for QUALIFIED leads. What’s worse than having no referrals at all? Having a long list of unqualified leads or worse, disconnected phones. For instance, if you’re in the car business, you don’t want referrals for people who are too young to drive. If you sell cosmetics, your customer’s Uncle Joe might turn out to be a perfect lead… but your chances are much better with Aunt Betty. Do some initial qualification of your referral leads, and only reward your referrers based on the number of people who actually turn out to be at least somewhat interested in your business.
    For instance, instead of giving your referrer a $5 credit for each friend they refer; give them a larger credit for each friend they refer who actually purchases. You’ll get fewer leads, but those you get will be much better quality and more likely to buy.
  2. Reward referrals with related items. If you’re thinking of offering a free oil change for anyone who sends five new clients to your house painting business… you might want to re-think that. Try a nice discount on some trim touch-up. Make the reward fit your business model for continuity and branding; it’s just one more way to make your image stronger.
  3. Reward referrals quickly. A delay of a few months, or even weeks, slows the action-reward cycle. People who are rewarded quickly are much more likely to repeat the behavior so they can get rewarded again – nothing like enlightened self-interest to motivate people to action.
  4. Create “Bonus” Rewards also. A set reward schedule (for instance, $20 credit for each new customer who makes a purchase with you) is important. But it is even more powerful to send “surprise” rewards as well. Once a quarter or so, send a thank-you email with a coupon or other small gift to say an additional, “Thanks.” These small, surprise “perks” solidify your program in your customers’ minds and also promote repeat business.
  5. Reward the referred customer as well as the referrer. Rewarding referrers is great. But it’s equally important to reward the new lead. Current customers will be much more likely to give you the name and contact info of their friends if there’s something in it for the referral as well. You can offer $10 off for the new customer as well as for the referrer. Then it’s a win-win-win; new business for you, reward for your current customers, and rewards for your future customers.

A consistent referral marketing program as part of your overall marketing strategy will earn continuing benefits for years to come, so get going and get your rewards.

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