Posts Tagged ‘ethical bribe’

Moving Your Customers to Recommend You

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

A couple of days ago I posted on getting customer referrals and recommendations. The bottomline is you need to be in their head at the time it becomes appropriate for them to recommend you. Most will agree the best way to achieve this you need a fairly high level customer relationship with them. But it goes beyond that.

Unless your customer can see some immediate or tangible benefit to them for recommending you, they won’t be motivated to mention your name. There are many referral motivators, they’re not all monetarily motivated. Here are a couple that work well.

For instance, there are a huge group of people who pride themselves in being in the know and being connected. Think of the most popular kid in school who was always on the leading edge of anything. No matter what was going on he or she seemed to be in the loop on it, ahead of everyone else.

Who are those people in your community? Malcom Gladwell (The Tipping Point) calls them mavens or connectors. They receive their validation from the ego boost of knowing they’re ahead of the curve. The more you can do to make them feel that way, the more they’ll value you. You’re providing them one of the key drivers in their life.

If you keep these people fully informed of what you’re doing and how it’ll benefit the recipient, they’ll jump at recommending you. One of the best ways of doing this is through where interesed people “follow you.” You can post short updates telling people who you’re talking to, what you’re doing, where you’re going, etc. It definitely makes people feel more connected. Twitter is growing like crazy right now and lots of businesses are taking advantage of how this works. It’s not mainstream yet, but it will be soon.

The second way to get people to mention you is if there’s an organized reward involved. I call this the ethical bribe. You can give out referral business cards with the name of the referring person on the back and your company on the front. When one of these referral cards comes back to you, call the person who referred and give them some kind of reward. It can be as big or small as you feel is appropriate.

There is a patent pending business card system for doing exactly this. It’s called the Rip-Card and you can check it out at It’s an ingenious system that’s completely trackable for all parties. My friend Alf, who invented it, has come up with a winner.

Another way of dealing with this is to leverage your existing client base to create new traffic and business for them through your normal business relationship. It isn’t that hard to do and the results can be very well appreciated.

As an example, I’ll often trade restaurants the set-up fees for new work for buy-one-get-one-free lunch or dinner coupons. This drives business to the restaurant, introduces new customers to the restaurant, and generally stimulates business for the eatery.

On the flip side, your recommending customer gets a free lunch on us when they recommend us. It works for everyone. It also provides a great opportunity for you to take that client to lunch. His lunch is free and you pay for yours. You see the restaurant client and you have quality time with your recommending individual. The possibilities are endless.

Bottom line here is referral systems need to be organized and systematized. If you can track the referral rate, you can really grow your business in a very efficient manner with very little advertising and promotion budget.