Recognizing Those Who Refer You

Ashley Misner and Galen Metz

This past weekend, I was at a gallery showing for my daughter’s artwork and I overheard a man saying to his wife,  “These paintings would make great thank you gifts for those two interior designers that have been sending so many people my way.”€

(Photo right is of Ashley and Galen Metz, owner of Azo Gallery)

My ears perked up when I heard this and I listened in as he continued laughingly,  “But, then again, giving art as thank-you gifts will probably put me in the poorhouse faster than it would generate more money.”


That man had a good point. And no–it wasn’t that buying a truckload of my daughter’s art would make him go broke; because we all know that the investment would be well worth it, even if he did have to sleep in a cardboard box. Okay, all joking aside, his point was that although thank you gifts and referral incentives are certainly an important part of building a business, it’s not always possible to give extravagant gifts that will surely keep us fresh in the minds of those who refer us.

So, what options do we have when it comes to giving good incentives to those who refer us? Well, first of all, we need to remember that incentives can range from simple recognition, such as a thank you, to monetary rewards based on business generated. However, creativity is the key to any good incentive program. Let your contact know when a referral he or she has made comes through and be as creative as you can.

There are many novel ways in which businesspeople can reward those who send them referrals. For example, a female business consultant could send bouquets of flowers to men, a music store owner could send concert tickets or a financial planner could send change purses and money clips.

To make it easier on yourself, get opinions and feedback from others who have significant interest in your success. There are lots of options for referral incentives, and you should consider all that come to mind because the value of recognizing the people who send you business should never be underestimated. A well-thought-out incentive program will add much to your word-of-mouth program.
By the way, you can see Ashley’s art at Sorry, I just had to do it.

5 thoughts on “Recognizing Those Who Refer You

  1. All good points. A gift is a great idea, but one thing we often forget these days in this connected world with instant text and emails is the old fashined letter.

    A thank you letter has far more value. It can be treasured and kept. People remember receiving a letter much more than an email or a text message.

    And it costs very little.

    So why not send the letter and/or a gift depending upon your budget?

  2. A well timed post for me – we spent several hours last night talking this over after I had read your section in “Worlds Best Kept Marketing Secret” on incentives.

    With a low cost, high volume product which already saves more money for the customer than we make, a money incentive seems pointless. Gifts would need to fit our policy of helping the environment and again it’s down to cost v the price of the product.

    I did however like the story about the notice board with a thankyou each month by displaying business cards. Although I work from home, I think this could work well by having a thankyou page on our website and updating it monthly.

    I have not made a definite decision yet and will be doing some very creative thinking this weekend as a result of your insight and may put a survey together to see what everyone would prefer.

    A big Thank you

  3. As a REALTOR, the law prohibits me from giving any “thing of value” (those are the exact words in the law) in exchange for a referral. Many people do not know that; but it is part of the RESPA laws. These laws are intended to protect consumers from artificially inflated costs due to paying kickbacks or referral fees for any type of real estate settlement service. Unfortunately, the result is a business which is primarily built on relationships, repeat business and referrals, is handicapped and can not give thank you gifts.

    I’d love to read more suggestions that I could (legally) incorporate into my business plan.
    * I certainly believe in the handwritten thank you note for all efforts to refer me – whether or not it evolves into a sale.
    * I have considered the thought (and discussed it with attorneys) that I could give a monetary donation to the person’s favorite charity.
    * I also LOVE the idea of providing recognition on my web site. We will get started with that tomorrow morning!

    Please, share your feedback on these ideas; and offer up other suggestions you may have that would be good ways to show my appreciation without giving “any THING of value”.

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