One of the best ways to grow your coaching business is by making your happy clients refer the people in their circle to you should those people ever need the services you offer. A referral program is a deliberate system that you implement to encourage existing clients to use word of mouth to market your business. When properly executed, referral programs can be responsible for up to 80 percent of all the business that comes your way!
So, how can you put together an effective referral program for your coaching business? All great referral programs have three things in common; an incentive or incentives, a targeted promotion and a team of passionate advocates for your business. Here are some suggestions to get your referral program working.
Nail Down Your Craft
This may seem obvious, but it is important for you to know that no referral program will work, or work for long if you aren’t good at what you do. Remember, the people recommending you to their family members and friends are putting their name and reputation on the line, so most will be hesitant to recommend you if your services weren’t topnotch.
The first thing you should be certain about is that the impression that your coaching clients will have after interacting with you (in person or over the phone) is that you are a consummate professional who delivers on what you promise.
For example, if you are a business coach, your clients should see quantifiable improvements in their business that they can attribute to the work that you did with them.
Once you have decided on your niche and mastered it, get a referral program started and you will be sure that your current and past clients will refer new clients your way because they will be sure that those people will benefit from your services.
Decide What Incentives You Will Offer
The best referral programs are the ones where the people sending business your way benefit when they do so. You, therefore, have to think carefully about what you are willing to offer to those individuals who work on your behalf to bring in clients. Here are some ideas of the incentives you can offer in your referral program.
Offer Two-Sided Incentives
One way to supercharge your referral system is by designing incentives that benefit both the person referring a potential client and the person referred. For example, I saw a referral program of Payoneer MasterCard in which their current customer and the new customer both receive a $25 bonus when the person who has been referred receives a total of $1,000 on their new Payoneer MasterCard.
This two-sided incentive works because some people may think that the person referring them is doing so just because they want the reward being offered. However, if both will benefit, then it ceases to have a selfish ring to it.
Try this technique in your coaching business and don’t even for one second imagine that you will be losing money by rewarding the person being referred and the one referring the client. I find this type of incentive works best for group coaching or online coaching programs. At the end of the day, what you give away is a tiny fraction of the money that has come into your pocket as a result of the work done by your past client.
Peg the Reward to a Charity
In some situations, it may not be considered acceptable to offer a monetary reward to someone for referring clients to your coaching business. In such a case, you may consider making a defined donation to a charitable cause each time one client sends another your way. Think carefully about the charity you choose because if it isn’t one that your target market is passionate about, then that incentive will not work.
For example, if your target market is wives of men serving in the army, then you can donate a given amount to a charity helping amputated veterans each time a “military wife” refers her friends to your coaching business.
Make the First Referral Irresistible
As you may know, doing something for the first time is always the hardest part of any undertaking. With this reality in mind, design your referral program so that the incentive for the first coaching client someone sends your way is very enticing.
For example, you can inform your current and past clients that they will receive a $40 gift voucher for the first successful referral they make, and any others that follow will earn that client a $15 cash reward. Once they get the first referral through your door, it will be easier for them to keep sending friends and colleagues, and you will be the biggest winner in all this since your client list will keep growing.
Reserve Special Rewards for the Most Active People at Referring Clients
For all its real or imagined faults, multi-level marketing businesses can teach you a thing or two about having a functional reward program. I am no expert in MLMs, but I do know that they assign some form of titles (which come with mind-boggling rewards) to people who reach high levels in the business.
The allure of joining the ranks of those privileged members who get to travel the world at the expense of the MLM company motivates those lower down to work harder.
You too can tap this technique and offer special rewards to the people who are most prolific at referring clients to you. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as what is done by the companies referred to earlier. The special reward can be as modest as dinner with the person, or even a handwritten note thanking them for having such trust in the services you offer. You can never know how such a simple act of recognition can unlock more opportunities for your business!
Design the Referral Program Effectively
Years ago, I read a cheeky quote about advertising that stated “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but no one else does!”
Think about your referral program along the same lines. What would you achieve with that program if no one else knew about it? Make sure that your referral program is known to the people you expect to benefit from it. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Give It a Catchy Title
The title you give your referral program can make or break it, so make it as catchy as you can. For example “Refer a friend and the two of you will get a $30 bonus!”
You can also craft different referral programs around major events on the calendar, such as the anniversaries of your business, the major holidays in the year, and so on.
Design an Appropriate Landing Page for It
Help your present and past clients to help you by giving them as much information as possible about your referral program. One of the easiest ways to inform your target advocates is by creating a simple yet effective landing page in which you provide a lot of content without choking readers. How? By creating a FAQs section, interested people can get answers to any questions that come to mind when they visit that landing page before they sign up.
Spread it Far and Wide
Use every communication you send to clients and prospective clients as an opportunity to spread word about your referral program. For example, a popup window having a signup prompt should appear on every page of your website and blog. Your emails can also have a link to the referral program, and so should your newsletter and any other marketing material you send out. The more people know about the program, the more likely they will be to make use of it.
Keep Tweaking Your Referral Program
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to putting together an effective referral program for your coaching business. It is therefore wise for you to keep trying different methods and techniques until you determine what the winning formula is for you. Don’t go to sleep once you find that effective program. Instead, keep looking out for ways to improve it or keep it relevant to the changing times. Remember, if you aren’t actively engaged in growing your business, then it is slowly dying under your watch. So, what are you waiting for? Use the suggestions above as prompts for you to think about a referral program that will automate the recruitment of new clients for your business as a coach!
To Your Success,
Jairek Robbins and Team PCU
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