What makes a strong referral program?

I wrote this post post for this blog and am reposting it here…

What makes a strong referral program? I can tell you what doesn’t… Free 8×10. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a nice incentive but that’s not (in any way shape or form) going to give you a solid base of referred clients. Why? Because there is no connection to an 8×10 – it’s a distant thing that they may or may not remember to even ask for. If handing a stack of referral cards is your referral program, it may be time for a new strategy!
Here are 3 ideas for a solid Referral Program:

1. Emotions! The absolute best referral program is simply connecting with your clients. When I put in that little extra effort or make them feel that I’ve gone a little further for them I help them know they are important to me. Add to that a personal touch and a genuine connection is made! When I accomplish that, I’m no longer a photographer, I’m their photographer and that makes all the difference in the world. Now they want to help me and they are rooting for my success.

2. Give them something to talk about! This is such a crucial step that I think to many photographer’s aren’t thinking about. Your clients may not be so overly eager for a stack of 8×10 that they want to hand them out like smut cards on Las Vegas Blvd but if you give them something personal… they will share it. The two best opportunities I’ve found for that is the mini books (here are two free template that I’ve designed for you to download, just click HERE and HERE).  And the other amazing mini billboard option that will jump start your newly strategiesed referral program is the iPhone cases!

The iPhone cases have been my best form of advertisement ever! And that’s exactly how I look at them too! I don’t mark them up at all, first because I want to get them in the hand of every client that owns an iPhone and second because if they go to the uncommon website and see the price I don’t want them to have any negative feeling toward the one they have in their hand. BTW – These templates work for the iPhone 4, 3 and iTouch so if they have ANY of those you have to get a case on their phone. It’s your own billboard that they WILL share!

3. Referral Cards. Last of all are the referral cards. Once I’ve made the connections and given the tools to talk about me then I think about the referral cards. I give each client only 8 cards. I don’t want them to take a stack of 50 and set them aside somewhere with the stack of mail they need to get through. Instead, I want them to feel like these are special, precious, like there is a dollar value credit on each of these little babies, because, really,  there is! I’ve found that using the mini moos has been a really fun and creative way to make my referral cards.

So there are a few ideas that I’ve come up with and used for my business, what ideas are working for you?

P.S. Please don’t email and ask me where the cases are made. I get so many emails asking and it’s very time consuming to try to answer everyone and honestly I’m really tired of them. When you buy the templates that information is included, if you read the whole article you should be able to figure it out.

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  1. Pamela says:

    The iphone link is not working. Where did you get them from? I want to get an iphone just so I can have a cover with my kids on it. lol

  2. hi leah,
    i love the phones too and don’t mark them up either… great conversation piece;)
    how do you work with the books – do you give them as a gift or do you have as an addon for purchase ??

  3. Vanessa says:

    Thanks Leah! I love the template for the mini album. I’m gonna be using this tip for sure! PERFECT!

  4. Rhonda says:

    I LOVE it, but where do you get the iPhone case made once the picture is in your template?

  5. Ashlee says:

    Love your blog! It has been so helpful to be; I’ve been reading through the whole thing. 🙂 Thanks for writing!

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Wow, Ashlee! I’m so glad it’s been helpful! I’d love to know which ones were your favorites or particularly helpful… It gives me insight on where to continue to go!

  6. Krystal says:

    I love the cases! Got one for my itouch, just wish they had them for android phones as AT&T isn’t a great carrier in my area!

  7. Carrie says:

    These are so awesome! I really need to jump on getting me some!

  8. Now that Iphone case idea is so smart!!!! This really is a wonderful article, you may have just saved me from wasting a lot of money by giving out those free pictures and referral cards!

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