Growing business, lessons from gardeners. Lesson 6.

Gaining customer referrals

Some plants grow faster from a cutting; your business could grow faster with referrals from happy customers.

In recent posts I’ve likened marketing to growing from seed but that isn’t the only way to get new plants, cuttings can be a cost effective way to fill your garden too. I see this as the gardening equivalent of a customer referral scheme.

It has long been recognised that word of mouth is the most cost effective form of marketing. A recommendation from someone who has used a service carries far more weight than any amount of self publicity. A referral from a customer is seen as objective and trustworthy and will be a positive influence in making a sale.

Do you have a mechanism for gaining referrals or gathering customer feedback? Do you ask for testimonials? If not here are some ideas:

Gaining referrals

  • Offer a referral payment when a lead given by a customer makes a certain level of purchase.
  • Give a discount to both the referrer and the new customer.
  • Organise a customer event, give each customer a guest ticket to pass on to a friend
  • Give a gift or reward in return for a referral
  • Run a prize draw, one entry for each referral given

Gathering feedback

  • Invite feedback following a purchase, include a feedback form or send a survey form or poll by email
  • Include a rating system on your website
  • Use a third party to conduct a customer satisfaction survey by email
  • Engage a mystery shopper
  • Invite feedback on social media

However you ask for the feedback ask for permission to quote the customer in your marketing and make sure you capture the details, preferably with the customer’s name. If you can, ask happy customers if they would feature in a short video testimonial. Sceptics tend to think that businesses make up testimonials and positive feedback so a video of a real person addresses this view head on.

Many customers will be happy to help promote your small business but you will need to ask.So today I’m challenging you to go and ask your customer for some recommendations.Can I ask you to give me some feedback on this blog here, or, if you find it useful, to forward it to some of your friends and colleagues? Thank you.


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