5 Ways to Build a Referral Program

Referrals are vital to a company’s success. In this blog post, I’ll help you develop a referral program for your small business.

business referral program ideas

Referral Program Steps

5. Think strategically

Your small business referral system should tie directly back to your overall financial and business objectives. Set a goal such as “I want to increase my referral business by 10% this year” and then create an outline around that. Segment out your top customers and ask them for referrals. This list should be made up of your top cheerleaders and their networks should contain the type of business you want.

4. Just ask!

Oftentimes clients are so busy with their own work, they don’t think about the referral process. Follow-up after a project or experience and kindly remind your customer that you’re in the market for new opportunities. Be specific with them about the type of clients you’re interested in, like this: “I know you’re a member of X non-profit group. My company specializes in accounting services for non-profits, so please keep me in mind should any of your group members need a CPA.”

3. Leverage LinkedIn

Ask customers and business peers to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. (And do them the favor of writing a recommendation back.) It’s not necessarily a direct referral meant to bring in business right away, but it helps bring in new projects your way down the line.

2. Build a network

Develop your own “referral tribe” – a group of people that have skills and services to complement yours. Recommend your tribe members to new business opportunities and ask them to do the same.

1. Develop a rewards program

Show your gratitude for referrals by sending flowers, a thank you card or a cool personalized gift. You can offer discounts on future purchases or even send a gift certificate to the person who referred your business. Be creative!


Photo courtesy of Flickr by Florian SEROUSSI

About the Author

Katarina Kovacevic

Katarina is owner of Redefined Communications which provides engaging content to the travel, fashion and consumer marketing industries. She's the author of The Food Lovers' Guide to Phoenix & Scottsdale and founder of Style Jaunt, a blog about fashionable travel.

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