To meet the challenge of finding the right incentive program, tap into the assistance and insights of other people. An effective way to do this is to invite about ten people you know to meet with you. Include a representative sample of your customers/clients/patients, business associates, partners, and friends. Their purpose is to think up incentives you could offer to produce a larger word-of-mouth-based business. Host a lunch or dinner for the group and either take copious notes or tape-record the meeting. Invite those who are willing to donate about two hours for your benefit (and receive a free meal, of course).
Prepare yourself, well in advance of the group meeting. Think the subject over beforehand so you have an idea of the limits that you may need to set for an incentive program, such as cost, duration, appropriateness, etc. Have water, note pads, a preliminary questionnaire, sample materials, a flip chart, and even a few ideas to get the ball rolling. If you’re going to discuss a product, bring actual samples to give the group a point of reference.
Begin the actual session by clearly stating a specific problem. Make sure your group understands that the incentive has to be geared to the group you’ve targeted. Explain that you are looking for a variety of ideas and that you won’t make any immediate decisions.
An accountant in St. Louis thanks those who successfully refer a client to him by paying for a dinner or two at least one hour’s drive from their homes. This approach firmly plants the accountant in the minds of his referral sources: they won’t be able to use it right away because the distance requires that they plan for it. As the date approaches, because it has been planned, they’ll be talking about it, and probably about the accountant. Later, when the referring party runs into someone else who might need an accountant, who will he recommend?
I’ve heard many novel ways businesspeople reward those who send them referrals. A female consultant sends bouquets of flowers to men. A music store owner sends concert tickets. A financial planner sends change purses and money clips. Please share below in the comments about how you reward others who send you referrals.