No matter how advanced our technology or the number of new marketing avenues invented, there’s one time-tested path that enhances business growth: the referral. Most business owners think of current clients when they hear the word “referral,” but there’s another group that can launch your brand to success through referrals—your Centers of Influence (COI).
Your COI is anyone—whether an individual or an organization—who has a significant influence in your niche and can spread the word about your brand.
According to a study done by the Financial Planning Association’s Research & Practice Institute, participants who experienced the fastest growth were 68 percent more likely to gain referrals from COI than other participants. The study also indicates that client referrals and COI referrals are the top two most crucial aspects of business growth.
With this importance being placed on referrals, what’s the best way to keep them coming to your business? It’s simple—show your appreciation.
Appreciation and business growth
Besides the obvious common courtesy, sending small, low-cost expressions of appreciation for referrals benefits your growth. Why? If people know you’re grateful for their support, they’re more likely to continue referring clients to you.
There’s a concept that says “business goes where it’s invited and stays where it’s appreciated.” Saying “thank you” with a small gift shows you appreciate those involved in helping you reach your goals. It builds loyalty to your brand, shows your “human” side, and sets you apart from the competition.
How do you put the principle into action? We’re so glad you asked.
Things to remember
Giving gifts of appreciation for referrals does require a bit of brainpower on your behalf. You want the expressions to be seen as thoughtful and personal—not generic.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when deciding on referral gifts:
Consider if it’s appropriate. Some professionals may not accept gifts due to ethics (such as doctors and journalists, for example). Additionally, there are specific countries where gift giving is frowned upon and/or has certain restrictions regarding the gift amount. Do your homework to make sure you adhere to business gift-giving etiquette.
Be personal, but not too personal. A Starbucks gift card is a nice enough, but to really make an impact, be a bit more creative. If you know the client or business associate to whom you want to send a gift, give something that’s of use to them. For example, if the person loves to read, send an Amazon gift card. Just avoid intimate or overly expensive items that might embarrass the recipient.
Embrace the forgotten art of the hand-written thank-you note. There’s nothing better in today’s world of emails and social media than receiving a genuine, personal, hand-written note.
Send a gift before the referral becomes a client. This shows your genuine appreciation and implies that you’re grateful for the effort and support, not just the money.
There’s no shortage of items to express your gratitude for referrals that spur growth. But in case your mind is too overwhelmed for this sort of strategic thinking, here are some examples to get you started:
- Amazon gift cards for avid readers
- iRoller – a reusable touchscreen cleaner
- Eua Water Bottle for the environmentally-friendly
- A plant – signifies business growth
Whatever gift you choose, be sure it’s appropriate, personal, and thoughtful. Showing your appreciation for referrals isn’t just good manners; it’s a simple, cost-effective way to build brand loyalty and facilitate business growth.
What has been your most treasured display of appreciation for a referral you provided? Is there something special that you like to give?
This article first appeared at Synnovatia’s business growth blog.