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A Super-Simple Way to Land New Clients

You’ve put your monthly newsletter together and you’re ready to blast it out to your clients. But before you do, there’s one more little thing you can do that will turn your newsletter into a lead-generating machine:

Include a way to reward your clients for referrals.

This is an underused trick that I’ve seen work gangbusters in the photography industry. A photographer I’ve worked with hauled in an extra $18,000 in one month just by spinning his referral program off of his newsletter.

My husband and I are using the same system to quickly build a clientele for our new studio – and starting this month, I’ll be offering a referral program to my copywriting/design clients.

Works in Both Print and Email

This system works best if you provide hard-copy newsletters to your clients. That way, you can include actual referral cards that your clients can hand out.

But even if you have an email newsletter, you can still use it to generate referrals. Just tell your newsletter recipients, “When you send a friend my way, have them mention your name. You will receive such-and-such as a thank-you gift for the referral, and your friend will receive such-and-such as a welcome gift.”

How to Build Your Referral System

I design our referral cards in four-color, and lay out four cards per page. That makes them about the size of a small postcard. The front side of our photography referral card says “New Guest Welcome Certificate” and my copywriting/design card says “New Client Welcome Certificate.”

The back of my card says the following:

Dear Kammy,

I’d like to introduce my friend ______________________.

Please extend your New Client Welcome Package, including the (gift, project discount, etc.) valued at ($ amount) for their first project with you.

Thanks, Kammy, I know they’re in great hands with you!

Sincerely, _________________

The referring client should fill out the card before handing it off to a friend. The friend then turns the card in to you when they hire you for their first project. (They can’t just hand you the card for a gift. They have to “sign on the dotted line” for a project first.)

If you’re working long distance, the new client can enclose the card with the packet they send for their first project.

I print our newsletters and referral cards on my office inkjet, cut the cards apart, and slip them inside the folded newsletters so they don’t get lost in the envelope.

A Few Ways to Reward Your Clients

The rewards you offer in your referral program are limited only by your imagination. There are numerous promotional companies that can work with you to come up with unique, affordable gifts.

It can be as simple as sending a bottle of wine with a couple of glasses imprinted with your business logo. Or even an imprinted coffee mug stuffed with a bag of gourmet coffee.

Or you could offer a gift certificate to the client’s favorite store or restaurant. This takes a little more effort to arrange, but is a small investment of your time to build a lasting, profitable relationship.

But a bit of advice: Stay away from imprinted pens as promotional rewards for clients. When was the last time you made a purchase or service choice based on what’s written on the pen in your pocket? Probably never.

Should You Offer Discounts?

I’ve heard mixed opinions on whether you should offer discounts off your design fees to get new clients. Some designers believe it lowers the value of their work in a client’s eyes. Others say it works great, and they’ve never felt it devalued their service. This is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

We use a combination of gifts and discounts for our photography studio. We reward the referring client with a gift certificate to a popular restaurant and a free sitting for their next portrait session with us. And we reward the new client with a free sitting and an introductory discount off their first portrait package. The gifts/discounts have a total value of $150 for each client.

For design clients, you might give the referring client a gift certificate and the new client an introductory discount. Or maybe throw in a free order form design (or something else that goes with their project).

It may seem like a lot to give away, but if you consider the lifetime value of a new client over the next five or 10 years or so, it’s but a drop in the bucket.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 19, 2007

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