Think Outside the Box for Referral Program Ideas

Small business owners are fortunate because they have the ability to quickly develop and test new referral programs to see if they’ll work for the intended target market. This is a great advantage that small companies have over large businesses that have multiple departments affected by deploying a new referral program. This ability to react quickly allows small business owners to think outside the box and have fun implementing new and different referral programs. Though traditional, tried and true referral program ideas should be part of your marketing toolbox, be sure to think outside the box when it comes to driving new business.

Give Something for Free

If you can give a small, low cost product away for free to your customers that they can use as a showcase of your business without having to think about selling, you will receive referrals. This allows you to provide value in the eyes of your customers without having to share revenue because they’re simply passing along your company’s information to their friends and family who are looking for a similar product or service.

An example of this would be a photography company providing a small product such as a mini-album of photos from a photo shoot that people will naturally carry with them to show off the cute photos of their kids and family. While the profit making sales are in the larger photos packages and scheduled photo sessions, a small mini-album promotes the quality of the photos and is branded with the company’s logo and verbiage.

Celebrate a Special Holiday or Event

While almost every retail business does special deals and discounts for all major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, your business can stand out by doing a special promotion on non-traditional holidays like Spring Break or April Fools’ Day. Send out a special coupon or discount to your existing customers and extend the offer to their friends and family. Let them email or print out the coupon for others to take advantage of the special deal on a day that happens every year, but might not be recognized by larger companies. Picking a special event can also be a good idea to take advantage of a promotional marketing opportunity like a special referral discount coupon that is good during the Tour De France bicycle event or the US Golf Open, etc.

Send Something That Lasts

Giving gifts that last a long time are excellent ways to remind existing customers about your relationship with them and provides your customer the ability to initiate conversations with others about your company’s product or service. Flowers are a popular “thank you” gift for doing business with your company but sending a potted plant or flower will live longer and hopefully be on display if they like it. While giving a gift that lands on a business executive desk can be the holy grail of business gifts, the typical pen, paperweight or calculator is likely to never be used. Be creative and tailor the gift for the individual you are sending it to. Maybe a nice set of towels for golfing, or another item that will still be seen by other business associates and not just placed on a shelf or in a drawer.

Have fun developing cool and unique rewards for your business clients to keep your business at the forefront of their minds. Talk with your sales and marketing teams and brainstorm ideas to fit your market perfectly. If you’re a small business owner make sure and take advantage of the ability to quickly try new things until you come up with the right customer appreciation gifts that help drive new business referrals.

Christian Fea is CEO of Synertegic, Inc. A Joint Venture Marketing firm. He exemplifies how to profit from Joint Venture relationships by creating profit centers with minimal risk and maximum profitability.

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