For small to medium-size company, these tactics are more than just low-cost; they are also very effective. They will provide you with a steady flow of incoming business year after year. They include personal contacts (or networking), face-to-face contacts, classes, free speeches, publicity, circulars, signs, and small ads. These tactics work for manufacturers, engineering firms, day-care centres, retailers, and every other type of business.
Once you have a customer, there is a good chance that he or she knows other people who are also prospects. The trick is to get these names without alienating the customers. It is usually easy to get an industrial referral, especially if your business is specialized. Many customers, on the other hand, don’t like to give out referrals, and you don’t want to upset someone who is already your customer.
Some of the many ways you can generate referrals are to:
- Ask people if they discussed their purchase with anyone else.
- Ask people if they know someone who would want to receive information on your product or service.
- Give customers something about your product to pass on, such as stickers, flyers, or circulars.
- Offers customers an award or certificate that they can put up in their homes – for example, a lifetime waterproofing guarantee, an interior design award, are all ways to make your name visible to new customers.
- Give away free or low-cost product to a key industry person. For example, a sign or plague manufacturer could give a plague to a major contractor who is visited by architects or corporation building committees.
- Offer customers advertising specialities like pens, magnets, or calenders.
- Send customers business reply cards offering free subscriptions to your newsletter.
- Send customers free tickets to seminars or classes to give to their friends.
- Offer free one-hour demonstration at a customer’s home. A beauty consultant might do this for a good client’s friends.
- Offer a free product for a referral. A restaurant could send a free lunch coupon to a secretary every time she booked a party for six or more.
- Sell a coupon book. For example, a car wash could sell a coupon book of ten coupons at a cheaper price.
- Place your product name prominently on the product.
- Offer a little gift that is closely related to your business