Connecting with your audience online is critical to your business success. To reach your prospects online, in addition to your digital presence initiative, you can leverage your happy clients’ experiences through a referral program, which helps you focus on your clients’ successes and stories above your business. If you do meet prospects, customers, and business partners in-person, professionally and informally, a collateral package can help you inform them on the fly.
Once you have your visual branding foundation created, it’s time to develop a collateral package for your business, including business cards, a brochure, and a flyer. These assets are critical for many consumer services businesses because they help inform and connect prospects, customers, and partners with your brand and team, even if you send them digitally (see Partners).
Go one step beyond online reputation and further capitalize on the benefits of word of mouth marketing by developing a referral program. This can also be called a loyalty or rewards program, but whatever you call it, this program will benefit your customers and encourage them to inform their professional friends about your business and services.
A referral program largely offers discounts, free services, or another benefit in return for a number of customer referrals. For example, if you have high-priced services, then encourage a one-for-one referral program where if one of your customers refers one friend and they sign up for your services, give them both a discount on their next service or time period of service, such as a month. If you have lower-priced services, you could follow the same format but offer a discount after five referrals result in new customer acquisition.
If your referral program is not bringing in new leads, go straight to the source and ask your customers why they haven’t taken advantage of the offer. You might find out that the benefit of the program is too small, the effort it takes to receive the benefit is too great, or maybe they just didn’t know about the program. Whatever you find out from your customers, take the feedback back to the team and modify the program to better serve your customers.
In addition to receiving referrals from your customers, reach out to businesses you trust that serve the same audience but in a different capacity. Create a referral agreement with one or a few of them to say that you both will recommend the other when the need arises. Most agreements entail providing a recommendation with a business card, collateral piece, or email.
The level of effort the partner offers in the referral process (and you for their business in return) is minimal. This takes advantage of word of mouth marketing because it will help you reach people in certain circles in different locations, whether those businesses serve only one city or the entire U.S.
Tip: When you enter a referral agreement with another business or business professional, include your business card and collateral pieces. Then, when they provide you with theirs, be sure to have at least business cards on hand to give their potential prospects.
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