How to Ask Your Customers to Refer Your Business

Referral Marketing
Referral Marketing Photo credit IIIerlok_Xolms/Getty Images
By Small Business Pulse

It’s no secret that word of mouth is one of the best marketing methods for businesses. A referral speaks volumes to potential clients. Third party verification is almost a must when making a purchase, especially in today’s increasingly digital world. Many small business owners find it difficult to get referrals though. Most aren’t sure who to ask and how to do it. These tips help point any business owner in the right direction to get referrals.

Provide incentives
A great way to convince people to provide a referral is to give some form of incentive. This could be as basic as a percentage or dollar amount off one of their purchases or as elaborate as setting up a complete referral system. One common referral system is a reward system where referrals earn points and those points earn rewards. These rewards can be anything from a discount to a free product or service.

Count on top fans
Get top fans such as family, friends or continuously repeat clients to bring in referrals. After all, these are the biggest supporters so they will have passion when recommending products or services. That passion will show through when they discuss your business's products or services. Cision, a leading U.S. marketing company, calls these ‘top fans’ as advocates. In “9 Ways to Improve Word of Mouth Communication,” they share that “leveraging current advocates to get referral customers” plays into the tendency for people to want to imitate the people they like.

Utilize social media
Use social media to ask people to share posts, events, and pages. Going back to the incentive of giving a reason why to share, make it into a contest. This will create great exposure for your business as well as get many of new “likes” or followers. Constant Contact, a well-known email marketing platform that strives to help small businesses, elaborates in “How to Ask for Referrals Online Without Fear” that it’s important to “make it easy for people to share the stuff they like.” Therefore, it’s best to add a “share” button to all blogs and web pages.

Keep it simple
People already have enough to keep up with in their fast paced lives, so the easier it is for them to refer a business, the more likely they will do it. Have info sheets or tablets out at the storefront to make providing a referral easy. For those without storefronts, be sure to have an easy online way to provide referrals on social media or a website. Another great idea is to have referral cards, which are similar to business cards, but includes information about a referral such as any discounts or rewards.

Be sincere
This last point is quite possibly the most important. No matter who it is, be sincere when asking for a referral. Don’t ask as part of a sales pitch, but as a way to genuinely help out their friends and family as well as them.