Generating new customers takes time, effort, and resources.
First, you have to figure out who the new customers actually are that you want, which requires research. Then, you have to reach out, book a meeting, give them samples, follow up, and hope they want to start a relationship with you. This process takes a while because each new customer you reach out to doesn’t know who you are, whether they can trust you, or why they should buy from you, so it takes a while to earn their trust.
One way to expedite this process and get customers faster and cheaper is through referrals. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to grow your business, and the customers you already have are your “low-hanging fruit.” It doesn’t matter how many five-star ratings your products might have online because the most trusted reviews are those that come from a friend. You should be tapping into your existing customer network to generate new leads. So how do you ensure that customers will refer you to friends on your behalf? Here are a couple of tips to creating your own referral program:
1. Set your goals.
Determine what you want to get out of your referral program. Are you looking to increase your customer base by a certain percentage? Maybe your goal is to have each customer refer at least one other potential customer you can go talk to. Setting your sights on a goal will help to map out your program.
2. Choose your referrals.
Who do you want to advocate for your business? Should your program target your biggest and most reliable customers, or should it incentivize your newest and perhaps smaller customers? Maybe you want the program to be inclusive to everyone. Consider several options in order to assure which makes the most sense for you.
3. Define the program.
There are couple of features to think about. First, now that you’ve chosen who the program is available to, consider what kind of deal would incentivize them the most. Should the discount go towards select, higher end products, or should it apply to everything? Secondly, determine how the program will work. Ideally, the discount should only be activated once the referred friend has made their first purchase. Other aspects to consider is timing, such as when to implement the program and how long it should last.
4. Alert your customers.
Once you’ve created your referral program, it’s time to spread the news. Emails and social media are one of the fastest ways to inform your customers of the special discount. Other strategies could be including flyers with your deliveries or adding a link to the referral program in your email signature. With any marketing plan, it’s best to be persistent and consistent throughout the program’s entire existence to ensure it becomes known to your customers.
5. Track the program.
Monitoring your program is necessary to see if it’s working. You should be tracking who and when someone was referred, who referred them, and if the new referral made a purchase. Tracking these metrics can be helpful to improve the program if you plan on launching it again in the future.
6. Say thank you!
At this stage in the game, it’s time for some recognition. Follow up with your existing customers thanking them for their referral, and then thank your new customers for joining. Asking for customer feedback can be a nice touch, too. A little recognition goes a long way in keeping customers happy.
The end result of implementing a referral program means you’ll have established credibility and trust with potential customers much faster. When you can get them to order faster, it’s less time you’ll spend on the research, samples, and follow-ups.
Referring a friend is a win-win for everyone. Your existing customer is rewarded for their loyalty by receiving a discounted price. Your new customer is learning about your business from the most trusted source of marketing: word of mouth. And, most importantly, your business just earned a new customer from an existing one!
Do you like the sound of offering referral discounts? So do we! At Local Line, we’re dedicated to helping food suppliers find solutions to improve distribution and grow their business. We’re working on setting up referral discounts now and will be launching this feature in the near future. If you would like to stay in the loop on when it’s ready, enter your name and email below!