12 Referral Marketing Strategies

Are you finding that you lack a real way to organically create new customers from your existing client base? Would you love to have a referral program that really does work? Your referral marketing strategies could be backfiring on you and you may not even know it. You’ve got to intentionally stimulate people to want something that you’ve got instead of relying on accidental word-of-mouth advertising that happens after a job well done. You must have a formalized strategy for marketing.

Your best marketing efforts will always be based on a world-class experience. You won’t get intentional referrals from shoddy service. Accidental or the occasional intentional and unsolicited ambassador can crop up when they’re truly impressed, but that’s random. You don’t want random! You want these marketing strategies in your toolbox so that you can create a reliable network of referrals instead.

Referral Marketing Strategies That Work

1. Create Your Target Market
Instead of finding your target market, create it. This market can come from anywhere, but a good place to start is a select sub-group of customers or business relationships and begin the marketing effort. Give them incentives to refer business your way, such as a discount on a future purchase, and you’ll have created a target market that will be rewarded for their ambassadorial efforts.

2. Clone Your Best
Your best customers can also become your new best customers if you can clone them. What are the attributes of your very best customers? Now communicate these attributes to the ambassadors that are championing your brand so they can specifically target households and businesses that fit your description. This will help you create reliable leads instead of having you chase down empty promises and lackluster interest.

3. Have a Core Message
Every referral must reflect a similar message in order for any marketing strategy to work as advertised. You don’t need to provide people with a script, but you do need to give all of your ambassadors an idea of what strengths they should promote. They’re going to benefit from a referral too, so any tools you can provide them will be happily accepted. As an added benefit, you’ll get more consistency with a shared core message too.

4. Nurture Away
In referral marketing, there are a lot of good intentions and that’s where businesses tend to stop. You’ve got to follow through with every customer because each one could be a potential referral source. Nurturing them doesn’t have to be a free dinner and lots of free products. It can be as simple as sharing with them company news before anyone else. Work to give each customer the VIP treatment. Make them feel like they’ve been singled out.

5. Utilize Case Studies
What have you done for someone that truly changed their perspective? Did your new email program offer 5.5 million leads in less than a day? Were you have to save a client over $100k with just a quick overview of their policies and procedures? Feature your clients, show off the prize they received, and you’ll have experiences that work as referrals.

6. Make Everyone Visible
Sometimes you have to scratch someone else’s back first in order to have your back scratched too. Feature some of your best contacts in blog posts, published articles, and even in your sales presentations to give them referrals. In return, you just might find some referrals headed your way in return. Don’t surprise people with unsolicited referrals because you might say something they don’t want you to say. Talk to them about your intentions because this sets up a natural reciprocal conversation.

7. Let People Know
Consider publishing your client list so that their combined influence can work in your favor. Is there some risk in doing so? Of course – an enterprising competitor might contact one of your clients and try to undercut your business. The reality is this: if you lose a client because of publishing your list of customers, it’s because you did a lousy enough job that they were tempted to leave in the first place.

8. Get Interviewed
Interview marketing is one of the most exciting innovations in modern internet marketing because it shows people in a natural way that you’re an expert. Work to structure interviews so they can act as a mutual referral resource. Think of it like co-op advertising. You’re promoting yourself and you’re promoting your affiliates at the same time.

9. Focus on the Content
Referral marketing also comes from the quality of your content. You need to get people to understand what your speciality is and then educate them as to why your expertise is the type that matters. This will help people be your ambassadors because instead of forcing them to explain all of this on their own, they can simply point people to the content that you’ve created for a level of person-to-person value.

10. Make the Invisible Visible
Referrals are more successful when there is a visible figure of expertise at the helm of a marketing campaign. People are naturally attracted to a strong leader and will enter a sales funnel simply because of an established reputation. By making the invisible expertise in your organization visible, you’ll create a light in the darkness that people can be referred toward.

11. Offer Valuable Incentives
What kind of incentive does anyone have to refer someone your way? Once you’ve nurtured a core base of ambassadors into a referral network, you’ve got to expand it in some way. Offer people valuable incentives in order to become another ambassador, but don’t make it as valuable as the incentives that the core base receives.

12. Share Away
People relate to stories more than anything else. Create a simple story that can be easily shared across broad platforms so that your message can reach and impact the most people possible. These conversations will create a lasting impression that will keep you and your referral marketing efforts at the top of a prospect’s mind.

Referral Marketing and Customer Acquisition Channels