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Koyona Duke: Business Referral Strategies that Work for Your Small Business

It’s the second quarter of 2019, and for your small business, I know the challenge is to double those orders and make those sales, despite it being just you or your small workforce. How do you do this without doubling hours and effort? The simple solution is referrals.



How many times have you told someone about your fantastic tailor and they have gone on to patronise her/him? What about your mechanic or electrician? Imagine if your electrician rewarded you every time you made a referral, or simply called to say a big thank you. Would that encourage you to do more? Well, yes.

It’s the second quarter of 2019, and for your small business, I know the challenge is to double those orders and make those sales, despite it being just you or your small workforce. How do you do this without doubling hours and effort? The simple solution is referrals. Referrals are a great way to double your customer base without doubling the effort you put into getting them.

Small businesses exist on the power of referrals. Your local barber or hairdresser will probably never have to run a single advert in any newspaper or on social media. They rely on you to tell your friends and you do. Now with technology is working for us, we can actually scale that system and make it work exponentially for our businesses.

The simple reason why referrals work is trust! Plain and simple. Using the tailor example above, you are more likely to use your friend’s tailor because:

  • They delivered a beautiful dress you liked.
  • They didn’t disappoint her/him.
  • You trust your friend.
  • Your friend trusts their tailor.

Simply put, the trust factor in relation to this tailor is high, even if you have never used them.

Here are five referral strategies to try to double that customer lifetime value and bring in more income:

Ask for that referral
It may seem simple, but I cannot say how often we underestimate the value of a simple request in our businesses. The chances that a customer knows, likes, and trusts you are high when they return. Target customers who: come back to buy and leave you wonderful reviews. These customers will most likely tell someone great things about your business.

Be specific about the referrals you will like to get
The reason why some of our request strategies don’t work is that we leave all the targeting up to our customer who is simply trying to do a good deed. Use your ideal customer profile to ask for the right kind of referrals. That way, conversions will be more likely from those prospects.

Give referrals to others
Yes, you read that right. Give referrals to others. People care about things that matter to them. Imagine if you referred clients to your hairdresser. Your hairdresser would be grateful, and more likely to remember you one day in her salon when she hears two of her customers conversing about the particular service you offer. She will be more inclined to call your business if she: knows about it and feels a need to repay a good deed. So don’t be afraid to give those referrals, especially to services you have tried.

Structure an incentive based referral scheme
Whether it’s outright cash prices (which I don’t necessarily encourage), gifts for referrals, free subscriptions, or points to help them shop more; creating a scheme that your customer or clients can benefit from will encourage them to lead another person to start using your service because there is something in it for them. If your points-based scheme actually yields results, people will be more motivated to participate and make active use of what it is you are offering. The problem with outright gifts are that they are simply not sustainable as a strategy, especially for small businesses. It is best to stick to what makes the best financial sense.

Games, contest, challenges
How many times have you tagged a friend on a brand’s Instagram feed so that you could win the offers they had there? These methods are getting increasingly popular because more and more clients like to feel a part of your brand journey, and we honestly just love free stuff. When you have that hyperactive audience it’s safe to run a game or challenge from time to time to get them to bring in their friends and build new interest in what it is you are offering.

When considering a referral strategy, however, it’s best to be clear on who can partake and what conditions they have to meet. Do not make participation compulsory. Instead, reel them in with the ‘Know, Like and Trust Factor.’

Happy Hunting.


  1. Tosin

    June 9, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Great exaltation,nice write up.
    More wisdom I pray.

  2. Gee

    June 10, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Thank you for this information.The major challenge facing small businesses especially in Africa is sustainability and continuity. I believe continuous referrals is the way out

  3. Nwoyi

    June 10, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m proud of you sis.

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