The Top 5 Referral Marketing Ideas for New Businesses

Do you have a brilliant business idea that’s taking off? Are you at a point where you have a product and your customers love everything about it? Have you considered leveraging the power of referral marketing to help even more people discover your product? There are numerous referral marketing ideas that can help you increase your sales.

Consider this – nowadays, a business has to sell more than just a product. You have to sell a full customer experience; An experience that has inspired your customer to share your products with friends and family.

Marketing conditions are continually changing. Unlike a decade ago, businesses these days do not only sell a product or service to customers, but also an experience. They are given a full experience that will inspire them to share the product or service with friends and family – all of whom are potential customers. Word-of-mouth referrals are the most effective way to grow your business, and this is especially true when you are just getting started as a business.

According to Entrepreneur, an ever increasing number of businesses in 2015 and beyond will try to be more open to feedback from their customers. Here are a few referral marketing ideas on how you can make the most out of your customer referrals.

1. IMPROVE YOUR REFERRAL MARKETING STRATEGY

A Nielsen Trust Study from 2013 showed that referrals are the most trusted form of advertising. This information should be good motivation to establish a solid referral strategy, one based on various referral marketing ideas.

Research is the foundation of any marketing strategy. When you want to craft a good referral marketing strategy, the initial research should include the basics, such as understanding customer desires and needs. But we also advise you to conduct research on any potential referral channels, such as news publications, influencers (bloggers and social media influencers), as well as finding all possibilities to produce customer reviews and opinions online.

Once your research is done, use the data to find the right referral marketing ideas, and then craft a successful strategy which includes:

– Exceptional customer service. Give customers or potential buyers a reason to engage, care about and tell others about your brand. Satisfied clients provide great referrals that are invaluable to small businesses

– The 80/20 rule of referral marketing

– Shareable product experiences. A simple Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram selfie can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers in a few seconds.

– Referral marketing program. Consider including an obvious incentive in your referral marketing program. Customers are more likely to refer friends and family when there is a valuable incentive involved. If the incentives are worthless or undesirable to the company’s existing customer base, the customers won’t be interested enough to participate in the referral program. Make the program more visible by placing signs in stores and using any internet marketing tools that apply.

Influencer. Find a person who is sufficiently influential in your niche. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity; A popular blogger, YouTuber or Instagramer will do the job.

References. Use references as referrals because people consider other people’s opinions before determining whether they should purchase a product or not.

2. FOCUS ON ONLINE REFERRALS

Referral marketing can be highly effective in an online environment due to the popularity of social media and sharing sites. Internet referral marketing can potentially spread information faster and to a wider audience than most offline marketing strategies.

These days, average customer reach is much larger than ever before and for many people with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Customers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online.

According to research carried out by social media experts, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals.

Dropbox, an online file storage company, implemented a very successful referral program in 2009 asking users to tell their friends about the service. The program offered rewards for both sides in the form of additional free space.

This program came to be very fruitful. Namely, by 2010, 35% of daily sign-ups were the result of a referral, while signups had permanently increased by 60% overall. The company estimated that within a 30-day period (April 2010), their users had sent more than 2.8 million direct referral invitations.

Dropbox debuted as a Y Combinator startup in 2007. It now has 300 million users and more than 500 employees. Follow the trend and take advantage of the variety of social media approaches to increasing your referrals. Brainstorm on various referral marketing ideas and try them out.

3. USE CONTENT AS A REFERRAL TOOL TO FORGE STRONG REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPS

Most often, customers are too busy to leave referrals, even though they are satisfied with the product or service. In situations like this, valuable content can generate referral introductions in ways that are constructive and valuable as opposed to shallow and fruitless.

Valuable content is an effective tool for attracting strategic partnerships as well. While many business owners focus most of their referral efforts on customers, non-competing businesses that serve your target market can be one of the most potent sources of referrals.

4. CONNECT WITH RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

The old premise “It’s not what you know but who you know” is still very popular in the business world. Even though you may be skilled and dedicated to your new business, your chances of success will rise exponentially when you connect with the right people.

Many companies collaborate with complementary businesses and cross-promote to each other’s customer bases. In order to promote your business, identify a connection that would be interested in setting up a barter program with you, one in which you’ll work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa.

Networking is the key to obtaining more customers and earning brand trust. For this reason, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.

5. SEEK CREATIVITY IN REFERRAL MARKETING IDEAS

Having a variety of electronic devices available to you and your customers, you have infinite possibilities of creating inspirational referral marketing ideas. If your client is willing, try to capture a testimonial on video. This can be a really powerful asset. Offer them an incentive to motivate them to make a creative referral.

Another idea you can try is thinking of a witty way to ask for referrals. There is an interesting example of a computer repair company using stamps reading “We Crave Referrals” on every paper that customers receive – including newsletters, marketing material, and invoices.

Remember, the best referrals are the ones you don’t even have to ask for. Thus, provide your customers with an exceptional experience that will make them eager to share it with others. Try various referral marketing ideas and see how they work for your business.

Friendly Advice on How to Start a Farmers Market

If you would of told me that I would be managing a farmers market a year ago I would of thought you were crazy. The opportunity arose quite suddenly to be the manager of our local farmers market. I am no expert on how to run a farmers market, but the following are important concepts to consider when you are thinking of starting a farmers market for your community or taking over one as a manager.

Before you even begin to formulate your location, vendors, layout, marketing strategies you need to have a board of directors. This board will be the governing entity of your market. You will need people who are experienced in urban planning, business, the agricultural scene, and active with your community. It is also a good idea to talk to other farmers markets; how did they start their market? What advice do they have? Would they be willing to help you? Once you have your board members selected, you need to come up with a mission for your market. What do you stand for? What do you want your community to gain by your presence?

You can’t have a farmers market without vendors. The type of vendor for your market really depends on your location. Here in Asheville, artisan vendors don’t do great. Produce vendors those are the vendors you want. You need to make sure that they are not all selling the same crops. Variety is key. At our market we have five produce vendors. They all have different items for sale. With the new craze of food trucks, it would be a great idea to recruit one or many for your market. My market is a smaller farmers market and I found that it’s best to try to reach out to food trucks that are just starting out. The ones that have been around for a longer period of time may consider your market – if it’s on the small scale or just starting up – a waste of their time because they may not make what they would consider to be a good profit for their time.

Marketing is a deal. Based off data the best way to market is using social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,etc. These are valuable assets to any business. You can also use Google Business to let people know about your market. Social media posts are free, which is great when you are just starting out. Once you get your market sustainable cash flow, you can look into boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter. Both Facebook and Twitter offer you to set your advertising budget which allows for less stress; once your budget has been spent the advertising stops until you reset it. Another great idea is to partner up with local businesses that are willing to promote your market using their social media. From my experience going and talking to local restaurants, breweries, kitchen supply stores that do food demos are all great prospects.

Location! Location! Location! This is very important to farmers markets. Last year my market was behind a church in their parking lot. There was no road visibility. We lacked new customers due to no visibility. During the off season we worked diligently to find a new location that was more visible, had walk ability, as well as good parking. We are now partnering with a local business to use their parking lot which has road visibility, parking as well as walk ability for our neighborhood. This move was a win-win for everyone involved. Our customers are now their customers, and their customers are now our customers.

If you want to start your own farmers market here are some resources to consider reviewing before starting the process. There is a course you can take through the Farmers Market Federation of NY, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Broome County and SUNY Cobleskill and funded by NYS’s Fresh Connect Program. This program costs $200, after taking the certification course you will be a certified Farmers Market Manager. It is an online course. I plan on taking it in the near future. Another great resource is ASAP. They have a section dedicated to how to become a farmers market manager with Powerpoint slides, PDF’s on farmers market rules and regulations. The best part is that this is a free resource.

Resources:

http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/fmm-pro-suny-farmers-market-managers-certification-program

http://www.asapconnections.org

Digital Marketing Lessons From Yoda, Luke, Princess Leia & Han Solo

Marketing inspiration can be gleaned from many sources, and in this case, we look to the famed characters of Star Wars to help us on our way. Let’s review a few pithy quotes from likes of Han Solo, Princess Leia and the great and wise Yoda, and see how they might apply to digital marketing.

LESSONS FROM HAN SOLO

“Punch it.” Take your content to the next level, make it relevant and continually review and refine. In other words, punch up your content!

“Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.” Though most organizations are in it for the profit, the goal of many digital marketing campaigns is to establish credibility and to build an online rapport. This is especially true for considered purchase items. So… focus on educating and helping first, and selling second.

“Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.” If your business is growing nicely, now is the time to invest in new ideas, technologies and resources to continue that growth. Don’t get cocky and think that you can continue to sell and market the same way you did a few years ago (or more).

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Old school thinking may not appeal to your progressively younger buyers. Innovate and stay ahead of the curve. That said, we never want to use an email “blaster” mentality. Always follow email marketing opt-in best practices.

“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, farm boy.” Email marketing to thousands of prospects list is a giant leap from a modest list of a few hundred. Keep this in mind when creating new, aggressive email marketing initiatives.

“Great shot kid, that was one in a million.” Any given campaign can prove to be a home run, but consistent, educational campaigns should be the goal for every business.

“Laugh it up, Fuzz ball.” It’s great to have fun with your marketing initiatives, but many B2B businesses should err on the side of professionalism with educational and relevant content. Explaining the origin of Foosball, or the best recipe for New England clam chowder in your business blog is unlikely the best way to engage your audience.

LESSONS FROM YODA

“Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” Marketing, including digital marketing, takes time and patience. Execute, Measure, Refine. Execute, Measure, Refine. There is no substitute for an experienced digital marketing professional. Don’t trust your digital marketing to a novice or treat it as a part time job to be completed by a salesperson, producer or account manager when and if they have time.

“Mmm. Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing.” Though it must be very embarrassing to lose a planet, forgetting to include a working call to action link can be embarrassing too! Double check all your links before launching campaigns.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” Just because something has worked in the past doesn’t mean you should continuing doing it in the future. Sometimes you need to step back and assess marketing initiatives, even if they’ve been successful in prior years and for many years.

LESSONS FROM LUKE SKYWALKER

“It’s not impossible. I used to shoot womprats with my T16 back home.” Laser like focus can be invaluable for marketing campaigns. Defining a target market, determining a buyer persona, creating a prospect scorecard and ensuring that your company has a robust prospect list are all crucial to effective and efficient marketing. Whether you’re targeting womprats or trucking executives, make sure you have the data and methodology in place when embarking on your next campaign.

I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.” Are some of your marketing initiatives going so poorly they need to be rescued? How are you determining which plans need to be rescues versus those that need to be jettisoned? Marketing initiatives need to be reviewed on a regular basis, and culled when they are beyond rescue.

“I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” My father founded this company, so I’m going to run it the way he did. As companies transition from fathers to sons and daughters, there are important elements to keep, and many to throw away. When it comes to marketing, look at what has produced recent ROI, and look at innovative approaches for future ROI. A simple example might be the website your father (Jedi or otherwise) created ten years ago. It might have been great then, but the time has come and gone to create a new, mobile responsive website.

LESSONS FROM LUKE DARTH VADER

The force is strong with this one.” Once you earn a positive digital reputation, the force will be strong with your company, and can remain strong with high quality content and consistent communication.

“It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.” Though ruling the galaxy may be beyond the scope of your business, you can dramatically increase your book of business with innovative marketing initiatives, leading edge tools and the talent to execute them. Considering outsourcing certain marketing initiatives to compliment any missing in house staffing or skills. Outsourcing can be a more effective solution than internal staffing for many organizations, especially smaller businesses.

LESSONS FROM PRINCESS LEIA

“Help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Though marketing can often be daunting for many companies, particularly small businesses, it’s not as hopeless as it might initially seem. And there usually isn’t just one silver bullet that will solve a problem(s), but rather many options which can provide successful outcomes. When initiatives are going poorly, start with the basics such as market, profile, persona, delivery options, etc. Use A/B split testing (or multivariate split testing) to better optimize messaging and calls to action.

“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?” Just because your budget is small doesn’t mean it can’t be effective. For example, leverage less expensive tools and platforms to expand reach. Use LinkedIn long form publishing as opposed to paid press releases. Cross pollinate your digital content by using free or inexpensive social media platforms. Small businesses and startups can use sweat equity when they have insufficient capital available.

“I have a bad feeling about this.” Well this one seemed quite obvious. If you don’t have a good feeling about your marketing campaign or initiative, think out of the box (or “poke the box”) and try something new. How about whiteboard videos, or a social media based referral program, infographics for digital content, on demand webinars, a new app, or pod casts. There are so many tools and technologies available today, there is something for companies both small and large.

LESSONS FROM OBI-WAN

Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” If at first you don’t succeed, measure, refine (or overhaul), and execute. Repeat!

Marketing inspiration can be gleaned from both traditional and innovative sources. Businesses need to embrace innovative marketing ideas and new technologies. And if your business is looking to “punch it” when it comes to marketing, you may wish to consider outsourcing some or all digital marketing to a professional and proficient marketing agency.