A Referral Program That Gives Back (an Excerpt from Mike’s Book)

An excerpt from Mike Stromsoe’s book:

In the early days of our referral program, we hadn’t figured out our strategy in full, but we knew that we needed to do something—and then turn that something into a permanent promotional process. So, we started by sending out a letter. Every time someone sent us a referral—whether or not that referral became a customer—we sent a thank you letter that included a lottery ticket. The letter would say something like, “Thank you for your referral. I really appreciate it. Because I was lucky enough to get your referral, here’s a lottery ticket. Good luck!”


A friend of mine who had referred a lot of business to me actually won some money from one of the tickets. I saw him at a weekly networking event after he had won, and he ran up to me and said, “Mike, guess what? I won $116 from the lottery ticket you sent me last week!”


That got me thinking all during the meeting, and afterwards, I asked him if I could take a picture with him holding up the lottery ticket. Underneath the picture I would add a caption like, “Jim won $116 by telling someone he knows about our agency.” With that photo and caption, we created a green flier (since green is the color of money) that explained to people how they could also win.


We started sending out those green fliers with everything we mailed—and I do mean everything. We sent them in bills and letters and notifications of all kinds. Pretty soon, our referrals started increasing. It felt magical. Once the referrals started coming in, we made sure we continued to recognize the people that were referring us business by creating letters (with the lottery tickets included)—and of course, we’d include another green flier with the lottery ticket to keep the momentum going.


That is how our referral system was born, and it has continued to consistently work for us. After we had that system in place for a while, we decided to do even more to stand out, and to improve the program. So, we started partnering with some of our other client business owners. We contacted a client who owned some pizza shops, and I told him, “I’d like to give away a pizza for every referral, and I’ll pay you $ for every pizza we give away.”


Without hesitation he replied, “That’d be great.”


What type of referral program can you start that could benefit not just your client but your community too?

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