In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you five creative ways that you can get more referrals in your business.
This is an area where a lot of us just leave it to everyone else to do the work and get the referrals for us. We don’t necessarily take an active role in encouraging referrals. But this can be a big mistake because you can get so many leads simply by creatively and non-aggressively encouraging people to send through referrals.
I’m going to break it down for you in this episode.
Let’s dive in!
Before we jump into the five strategies that I have for you, I do want to quickly touch on the fact that for most people, this is an area where we don’t take a lot of responsibility or we don’t particularly get strategic about how we can use this as a strategy in our business.
Ultimately, it’s up to other people as to whether they refer their friends, colleagues and family through to us.
That is not something that I think we need to be overriding.
I don’t think it’s a smart business strategy to be so focused on trying to force other people to refer their friends and family through to us, that it feels overly aggressive, pushy or uncomfortable for our clients.
You want it to feel like it’s a win/win situation.
As with every business strategy and marketing tip that I give, all of this is grounded in consent and ensuring that we are not using guilt, fear or any other toxic strategies in order to get people to do what we want them to do.
I just want to reassure you that these creative ways to get more referrals are grounded in consent.
Strategy 1: Free session for referrals
This is something that I did when I first started my business.
At the end of my paying clients’ sessions, I would let them know that if they had a friend or someone that they knew who would benefit from a session with me, then they could tell their friends to say they sent them and their first session would be free.
No strings attached.
I would do a 45-minute free business mentoring session with any of their friends.
The reason why I did this was that when I was working with clients, they would often talk about how much someone they knew wanted to work with me. And I’d rather talk to that person than not. If that meant giving away a 45-minute session, it was worth it. It was always a really hot referred lead.
We already had an extended connection.
We already had some trust from that connection. Why wouldn’t I offer free sessions if they sent their friends through?
As I started getting more successful, I limited the number. If there were clients that knew someone who could benefit from a session with me, I allowed them to send three people my way to have free 45-minute sessions.
It was only about four or five months into my business before I had to stop doing free sessions because I had booked out fully with paying clients.
I’ve talked several times on this podcast about my early months in business. My number one priority in my early months in business was getting conversations with clients, serving people and proving that I was a valuable mentor and coach for people who were starting businesses.
Due to those priorities, I was happy to put my time into low-cost entry-level sessions, free sessions and free referral sessions. I did whatever I needed to do to have those conversations with people and do some work with clients.
That’s really what I wanted to do.
Having this free session for anyone who comes through referred was a fabulous way for me to be able to spread my network and also for my clients to have a reason to refer people through.
It wasn’t just a matter of them saying that I was amazing. Instead, they were able to talk about how valuable they think my work is, AND give them a free 45-minute session with me.
It was a much stronger case for referrals if people sent them through those emails to their friends.
That’s a really, really simple one.
I also had some suggested words in my follow up email from their first session. I would remind them about how I mentioned they could send through up to three friends to have a free 45-minute session, and I’d give them some words to use in an email if they wanted.
They were just some copy and paste words if they needed them.
I left blanks for them as well. For example, ‘I just had a session with Tash and it was _____’. I gave them a little bit of a structure around it.
That is creative referral strategy number one. That strategy alone is responsible for tens of thousands of dollars worth of sales in my business. In those free sessions that I did with people, I really brought my A-game to them. They often turned into paying clients.
I would say about 60% of the time, those referred sessions turned into paying clients.
I think the conversion rate was so high due to that trust. They’d been referred through and they knew their friend was already working with me. That created this really beautiful snowball effect for my business for referrals.
Strategy 2: Free resources that people can share
Letting your existing clients and audience know that they can share a particular free resource of yours.
This is something that you can do a little bit more at scale.
It might be that you have a gated free resource.
Let’s say I put together a special two-hour workshop on X, Y, Z, but I never promoted it publicly or put it on my website. It was just for people who wanted to refer others through to me.
If people wanted to tell their friends about my work, I’d let them know that the best thing they could do was share with them a secret freebie that is only for being people referred through.
You could totally do something like that. Or you could also just do it as a completely ungated freebie.
Here’s something that I’ve done before: Let’s say I’m on a client VIP session, and they ask me if I have a template for structuring a newsletter (I happen to have a lot of templates and resources behind the scenes that I have for my VIP clients and students in my programs). When I send through that template in an email, I’ll let them know that they’re also welcome to share it with friends.
When I first started my business, I had several different freebies and templates.
- How to structure your blog
- How to do basic SEO on your website
- Three different suggested structures for posting offers on Facebook groups
- Market research questionnaire templates
- 100 social media post ideas
I had all these templates and resources I made as PDFs. If that was something that I shared with a client, I always said that they’re welcome to share that with friends.
I had a quite a few referrals come through where people said that their friend had sent them one of my templates, and they loved it. Then they’d ask if I also help with something else.
I had a great bank of resources.
When people would ask me for a checklist that I DIDN’T have, often I’d just let them know that I could create it for them and that they could share it with friends. Then that’s what I would do that afternoon. I would go and make that checklist. and I would send it through. Due to the fact that I was creating these resources in response to what people wanted, they were more likely to share them and it created this great value as well.
That’s a really good one as well.
If you’re looking for ways to have it happen more at scale – you don’t want to give away free sessions or you’re doing that as well, but you want to really dial up those referrals – then having things that people can send off to their friends is great. Especially as free things.
People LOVE sharing free stuff!
A really great example of this is what Naked Wines in Australia does.
This is a company where they are helping to get winemakers out of terrible contracts with the duopoly of supermarket chains in Australia. A lot of winemakers signed up to be providers of wine for Coles or Woolworths in Australia (they’re our two major supermarkets). Then they found that the longer that they stay in business with them, the less sexy the conditions are and the more their hands are tied when it comes to their creative freedom and creating wines that they want.
You can become an angel for Naked Wines where you buy your wines from those winemakers and they’re freeing winemakers from these contracts one at a time. It’s a really beautiful story, some really lovely wines. (By the way – you can use my Naked Wines referral code here: CLICK ME.)
I would probably have received thirty Naked Wines vouchers for $100 from friends and family members over the years. People who sign up to get a box of wine from Naked Wines also get these vouchers for $100 off your first box of wine. They’re everywhere, but when people get their $100 off a box of wine, they give them out as presents because they see it as being so valuable.
We love giving away free stuff to our friends.
When Uber was first coming out, if people had never caught an Uber before, they could sign up with their friend’s code and both people would get $10 each off.
The main incentive for me was that they would get the $10, NOT that I would get the $10.
We often think that people are motivated by what they would get, but actually, we are also heart-centred entrepreneurs – we are motivated by what we can give to others as well.
It’s amazing having some great resources that people can give to their friends that are ungated – especially when they don’t have to sign up to your mailing list.
Often we get caught up in thinking they have to sign up to the mailing list, we have to then send them several emails and upsell to them straightaway.
Sometimes it’s just really nice to receive some free things that don’t require subscribing to a giant email sequence.
Being someone who gives away for free the types of things that other people will make you pay for, can be really great at getting those referrals out there.
That’s number two – a free resource that people can share.
When you tell people that they can share it, make sure you’re really specific about the problem that it solves.
Strategy 3: Platform your clients
Not platform them by doing a case study on how amazing you were in their journey, but simply platforming them because they’re doing amazing work and are amazing people.
The reason why I say it in this way is because I see with a lot of people that if they’re going to do something, they want it to do 10 jobs for their business. But in doing so, it loses some of its authenticity and magic.
When it comes to putting your clients on a pedestal – putting your clients in front of your audience – we can read through your motivations when 90% of what you say is about how amazing you were with that person or what YOU did for that person. (Let’s not even get into a conversation about claiming people’s successes.)
If you’ve got some clients who’re they’re really amazing, and you want to share that person with your followers, then share about them, do an interview with them and promo their website. Not by saying that they’re your client. Simply by giving them a shoutout.
The reason why I recommend this and talk about this as a referral strategy is because that type of platforming of your clients is the one that they’re most likely to share. But it’s also the one that’s most likely to get more engagement and more people following and creating better algorithm results by proxy.
I am someone who does this very naturally.
Even if someone’s not a client, if I have a sales conversation with someone and I find out about how amazing their business is, most of the time (even if they don’t join my program), I will share about them on my Instagram stories, or I will do a little post on my Facebook page or post about it in my Facebook group. I just think it’s really valuable.
I often will jump into my Take Off program or into my Leverage and Launch program and let people know about something that I’ve just discovered through a client or through a sales conversation.
I’m genuinely sharing it because I think more people need to know about it. Of course, that does very well.
Rather than only ever talking about your clients through the lens of taking credit for their success because they’re your client (please don’t do that at all), instead just share the story of that client and give them a shoutout.
Without expectation. Without having to make it about you. Just be a nice person.
For most of you, this probably seems obvious and you’re already doing it. But for some of us, we don’t even think about it. We’re so caught up in how to get more clients, how to get more clients, how to get more clients, that we’ve forgotten the social side of social media. We’ve forgotten how to be a good supporter of other people without expectation.
I think that’s a really good strategy: Platform your clients without expectation, without claiming their success, without having to even mention that they’re your client. The minute you say that they’re your client, it changes the tone and it changes the feeling for people reading that post or seeing it. That’s my perspective.
Strategy 4: Be a good referrer
You know how they say the fastest way to experience a feeling is to give it to someone else? If you want more referrals, go and do more referring.
It’s a pretty simple energetic exchange, isn’t it? When I want to make more money, I go and give more money away. When I want to attract more people who invest in high ticket and no-nonsense stuff, I go and invest in something high ticket.
If you want to experience a feeling, give that feeling away.
If I want to feel loved and cherished and nurtured as a friend, I go and love and cherish and nurture my friends.
It’s the same for referrals. If you want to get referrals, go and give referrals.
Make it a habit.
In the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs community, you can use #shoutout any day of the week. Any day of the week, you can go and shout out to someone who you admire, or whose work you think is amazing, or that you think everyone should know about.
You can go and shout out to those people any day of the week.
We used to have shout out on Sundays, but everyone was forgetting to do it on Sundays and they wanted it to be any day of the week. So we took it off Sundays and we made it any day of the week… and now there have barely been any shoutouts at all.
If you become a solid referrer, a solid shouter-outerer, then you are going to find that that makes you an energetic match for referrals.
It’s not just an energetic thing, it’s also a physical tangible thing.
When I get lots of referrals from someone and I continuously hear that someone has sent them to me, then I will begin continuously sending people to them in return.
It creates this amazing reciprocal relationship.
Send more people to the people that you know and trust and that you think are amazing. Make sure that you’re actively looking for people you can refer to them.
People will often get in touch with me and explain to me what their business is and ask if my program is for them. If I’m not the right fit for them, then I send them on to someone else who I know can help with where they’re at.
That’s actually another thing I do.
When it comes to having conversations, I often will be on the receiving end of a message that says it doesn’t fit so they can’t help me. And I understand that people are busy, but at the same time, it’s a very closed off no.
It doesn’t necessarily create a relationship between us. We could still have a relationship and I could still refer others to you now that I have more clarity around what you do, but you just kind of shut me out.
I think it’s a really beautiful act of service, not just to the people you’re referring people to, but also to the people who were asking – to keep this up as a collaborative relationship.
Just because someone is not the right fit for joining my Take Off program, doesn’t mean I want them to go away. It just means I don’t want them to buy from me.
I don’t want you to buy the Take Off program if it’s not the right fit. ‘Go and work with this person. I think that is absolutely more of a fit, and I look forward to keeping in touch with each other.’
We’ve got to look at this as a long term growth snowball.
I think that we’re very quick to cut things off and cleanse people from our list. We’re decluttering our networks, but at the same time, that network doesn’t necessarily need to be of value to you, in this instance, for it to be of value.
That’s my recommendation – be a really good referrer.
Give people a little more time, and start to get to know people in your adjacent areas of work so you can refer them through.
I don’t work with product-based businesses, but you bet your bottom dollar I know several people who are experts in helping people with product-based businesses. Why? Because I have people with product businesses get in touch with me all the time.
I want to send them to someone who’s going to look after them. I want them to be able to have the support that they need to grow their business.
Be a good referrer, be a good networker.
Just having those people that you know in your network is very valuable for your audience, and it’s very good for getting you more referrals as well.
Strategy 5: Pay people for them
On this topic, I want to say is that the fastest way to dry up referrals from people with money blocks is to pay them for referrals
If you don’t have some of the first four strategies in place, I would 100% wholeheartedly recommend you do those first before engaging in a formal structured affiliate referral system.
I hear about this all the time.
The first time I opened up my affiliate program, I went from getting 600 referrals of people joining my list every single month through referrals… to 50. The reason being was that when I didn’t have an affiliate program, people were shouting from the rooftops about me.
We’d have hundreds of people join the Heart-Centred community every single week. They were just coming from everywhere because everyone wanted to talk about what I was doing, our community, and the way that I was teaching business and marketing.
I decided that I needed to reward all these people.
I was getting clients coming out from left, right and centre and they were all saying they were referred through. So I set up a formal affiliate structure. I gave people affiliate links to refer their friends through, and I gave them affiliate links for freebies so they could go and share freebies. Then if someone eventually bought from me, then they would get a commission for it.
Crickets… absolute crickets.
It took me more than six months to even get people sharing consistently with their affiliate links because all the money blocks came up.
They were worried they were referring for the wrong reasons.
In a lot of cases, it’s better not to have a paid referral system. It’s better not to use affiliates, especially in the early stages. People don’t need to be paid or have a formal structure around referrals in order for them to refer.
99% of the referrals I give out and the people that I send to other people are not affiliated in any way shape or form.
I also think on social media these days, it can get really complicated when you recommend someone because it’s a promotion and you’re an affiliate for them, and then you recommend someone else simply because you love their work.
Yes, that’s amazing for that company, but for all the people who have just paid them for those influencer or affiliate posts, it kind of dulls their shine a little because it’s obvious that you’re sharing one of them because you’re paid for it, and then another because you genuinely support them.
Sometimes it also creates this little conflict of interest in your own feed.
Don’t feel like you need to dive straight into paying people.
There you have my five creative ways to get more referrals in your business. I’d love to know which one you’re going to do. Come over to the Heart-Centered Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group, let me know which strategy you’re going to use to get more referrals using #podcastaha and the episode number (290).
I’m also going to pop a little post up on my Facebook page the day that this podcast comes out so make sure you come over to my Facebook page.
In that post, I’ll ask who you recommend and if you’re looking for a service provider. We can provide our referrals there as well.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-Centered Business Podcast.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.