The power of customers as a marketing weapon cannot be underestimated. Experian reported that word-of-mouth is the No. 1 influence for purchase decisions of more than half of all Americans. But asking customers to spread that word-of-mouth about your product or service can be a delicate challenge. Business owners must navigate the boundaries of etiquette to achieve referral success.
Here are a few critical do’s and don’ts of referral marketing that help create return customers.
Do: Capitalize on the Momentum of a Happy Customer
When a customer expresses satisfaction, it becomes the perfect transition to invite more business.
The dialogue can start as simply as, “Thank you for your business, I’d love to work with you again. If you have any friends or family that might be interested in working with us, please pass along our business card.”
Business cards can offer a more tangible reminder to customers and potential referrals how your organization can help them. You can print business cards with discount companies and still have a 3.5 by 2-inch card that packs a punch with branding and a message that aligns with your company’s vision.
You can also seize a customer’s good experience by providing an incentive like a coupon discount, which can be incorporated onto your business card. This simple marketing gesture demonstrates your appreciation for your client while giving them extra motivation to spread the word about your business.
Don’t: Ask for Referrals if Services aren’t Completed for Customers up to Satisfactory Standards
Your product or service should also be so exceptional that it can stand on its own, so don’t follow up poor or incomplete business transactions with a bribe to achieve referrals.
Do: Use Personalized Direct Mail Techniques
Customers deal with floods of junk mail. Sometimes the only letters that don’t get tossed in the recycle bin may be handwritten ones from family and friends.
Take a cue from these personalized letters to show customers how much you care. A handwritten note specifically addressed to the customer and signed by you can create a positive association with your business. If possible, you can mention your interaction with the customer, provide referral incentives and follow up with continued interest in serving their needs.
Don’t: Succumb to Mass Mailing Techniques
Not only will you look like just another greedy advertisement, but also your inability to stand out through custom mailing means you may miss out on more referrals.
Do: Simplify the Referral Experience
Inc. Magazine suggests that word-of-mouth produces a better caliber of customers compared to solicitation.
Existing customers can reach these potential referrals better when you make the process easy for them. Provide them with accessible links to Facebook or Yelp on business cards, emails and home pages. Create a program where their honest review qualifies them for a future discount.
Don’t: Complicate the Referral Process with Extensive Forms for your Database
While these forms can help you quickly identify and mail existing customers, these extra steps may cause their enthusiasm for your business to fade quickly. The last thing you want to do is complicate their interaction with your business in a way that fosters negative feelings.
About the Author
As a graduate of business management and communications, Crystal Doyle utilizes her knowledge of public relations and applies it to her methods of managing.