It’s no secret that word of mouth is one of the best marketing methods. A referral speaks volumes to potential clients. Third party verification is almost a must when making a purchase, especially in today’s increasingly digital world. Many small business owners find it difficult to get referrals though. Most aren’t sure who to ask and how to do it. These tips help point any business owner in the right direction to get referrals.

Provide incentives

READ MORE: Michigan Announces $1.5 Million Tuition Giveaway, 100 Children To Receive $15,000

A great way to convince people to provide a referral is to give some form of incentive. This could be as basic as a percentage or dollar amount off on their purchase or as elaborate as setting up a complete referral system. One common referral system is a reward system where referrals earn points, and those points earn rewards, which can be anything from a discount to a free product or service.

Count on top fans

Get top fans such as family, friends or continuously repeat clients, to bring in referrals. After all, these are the biggest supporters so they will have passion when recommending products or services. That passion will show through when they discuss the business’s products or services. Cision, a leading U.S. marketing company, calls these ‘top fans’ as advocates. In “9 Ways to Improve Word of Mouth Communication,” they share that “leveraging current advocates to get referral customers” plays into the tendency for people to want to imitate the people they like.

Utilize social media

Use social media to ask people to share posts, events, and pages. Going back to the incentive of giving them a reason why to share, make it into a contest. This will create great exposure for the business as well as get a lot of new “likes” or followers. Constant Contact, a well-known email marketing platform that strives to help small businesses, elaborates in “How to Ask for Referrals Online Without Fear” that it’s important to “make it easy for people to share the stuff they like.” Therefore, it’s best to add a “share” button to all blogs and web pages.

READ MORE: AAA Offers 'Tow To Go' Program During Memorial Day Weekend

Keep it simple

People already have enough to keep up with in their fast paced lives, so the easier it is for them to refer a business, the more likely they will do it. Have info sheets or tablets out at the storefront to make providing a referral easy. For those without storefronts, be sure to have an easy online way to provide referrals on social media or a website. Another great idea is to have referral cards, which are similar to business cards, but includes information about a referral such as any discounts or rewards.

Be sincere

This last point is quite possibly the most important. No matter who it is, be sincere when asking for the referral. Don’t ask as part of a sales pitch, but as a way to genuinely help out their friends and family as well as them.


MORE NEWS: Holiday Travel And Gas: What To Expect At The Pump

This article was written by Suzy Fielders for CBS Small Business Pulse