I started working with two young professionals recently who are interested in expanding their services practices (physical training and thai yoga massage). Both have a committed core of followers in NYC. I think one of the best ways of achieving their goal of growing this base is a building a solid referral program.
Helping people refer you
My go-to resource for reading on building a referral program is Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. I was re-reading it this morning and I came across a passage on creating a win-win motivation (p. 190 in the softcover version). John tells the story of a wedding photographer who marketed her services to “bakers, caterers, florists, and bridal shops . . . all places where her [target audiece is] sure to shop.” When the photographer shoots a wedding for a client, she also takes photos of the cakes, flowers, add dresses. She then returned to the shops with a framed enlargement of the photo and information to distribute about her services.
The shops would be so excited about having professional photos of their work that they’d hang up the pictures then and there! And as more brides-to-be came through the doors, they’d see the great photos, and want to hire the photographer to do their wedding.
Creating the win-win
In the example of the photographer, the feedback loop is pretty clear. The baker gets a free professional photo of their cake (which helps them look good) and the photographer gets free advertising for her services. The question then is how to set up a win-win for my new clients in the training and massage fields.
Who is likely to refer customers to physical trainers?
Julia specializes in helping already fit athletes avoid injury. She could start finding these type of athletes in the variety of sports leagues around the city. The trick is to create a win for the league. A league may be looking to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering additional services to its participants. I recommended that Julia get in touch with the leagues to see if they would be interested in sponsoring cheap or free classes for players in the league. Maybe Julia could offer a 15 minute warmup or cool down session at the field before or after the game. This would make the league look good and allow lots of potential clients to learn about Julia’s services.
What about Elyse, the thai yoga massage practitioner?
Elyse often works with women who need help with a combination of strength and flexibility training, thai massage, and general fitness. She will be teaching a class on June 24th at Ger-Nis, a new culinary center in Brooklyn, called Morning Yoga and Smoothies (Download a pdf calendar here). After class the participants will learn how to make (and enjoy!) healthy and delicious smoothies. This helped Ger-Nis by attracting people to the store for a free yoga class and helps Elyse by introducing a number of interested people to her services.
Part of the referral pipeline
Building a strong network of businesses who succeed when they refer you is a key element in building a referral network. What ways have you seen local businesses do well with creating a win-win referral system?