Why Offline Referral Marketing Beats Peanut Butter On Pancakes

offline referral marketing

One of the main ways I grew my businesses in the early days was through referral marketing. To be honest, it wasn’t that popular back then (early 2000’s) and was more of an American thing (hence the peanut analogy).

My competition had no idea what I was doing and I made it my business to put referral marketing front and centre of all our marketing activities.

Once you realise the power of people promoting your company for free, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing it before.

Once you realise the power of people promoting your company for free you'll wonder why you didn't start doing it before. Click To Tweet

I made quite a few mistakes early on, though and was a little too aggressive – this meant I was upsetting clients and basically turning them off both me and my business.

You see, it has got to be done right…

Being too “in your face” just won’t work anymore. Once a client is happy with your product/service, there’s a right and wrong way to ask for a referral.

Why is it so powerful?

When clients refer you or your business to friends and family, it’s kind of like an invisible seal of approval. People like to use trusted contractors and shops rather than doing their own market research and taking a risk.

Ask for recommendations and referrals

ask your clients for referrals

Seems like a strange concept doesn’t it? Simply “ASK”. However, I can’t tell you the number of times we have carried out a strategic audit on a company and found out that they weren’t asking for referrals. The best time to ask is immediately after they have used your service or purchased your product.


We advised one of our clients who had a general hardware store (yes, they still exist) to try a little experiment.

Here’s what we advised:

If you’re selling a product in a store ask, the client if you can have either their mobile number or email because you would like to check to see if they were happy with the product. You would think that they would get a lot of objections, wouldn’t you? They didn’t…

Note: We asked the store to have their email addresses and not phone numbers.

Out of every 100 clients they asked, around 20 people declined. That’s pretty much an 80% conversion.

If you show compassion and caring towards your client’s well-being and truly want to get feedback on their experience, they really don’t mind handing over their contact details.

Need To Increase Sales? Follow up with your existing customers Click To Tweet

We designed a quick “Yes” / “No” survey using Survey Monkey and emailed the questionnaire out to their clients.

We followed up with every single person who handed over their email address and got a really good response. Don’t get me wrong, they also had a few disgruntled clients, but that’s to be expected.

Each client agreed for their first name and initial of the last name to be used so that we could post the results on the client’s website. It was a massive hit and we have, of course, advised them to do this every month.


Not only could we post the results on the clients’ website by way of a testimonial, their customers actually started telling their friends about the store and about the good service they’d received.

Follow up with your existing customers

Using the example above, we then slotted each of the email addresses into a spreadsheet and started to build a nice little database of clients we could follow up with. All of the clients were then emailed a voucher/coupon with a “money off” offer on a popular product. Powerful stuff, eh?

There’s no reason why you couldn’t do this in your business – simply add your current and past clients into a spreadsheet and either call, email or text them with your latest offers.

Even if you get a 20% response, that’s still an extra 20% of traffic through the door who already “like, know and trust you”.

Send your business network partners lots of referrals

This is done quite a lot in the States but hardly ever gets done here in the UK. If you are a member of a business network, use local suppliers or just friends in the similar trade, get into the habit of referring and recommending them on a regular basis.

Don’t forget to tell the client that they should mention your name when either booking or purchasing. If you do this regularly, your business network will start automatically referring you and your business to their clients too.

Have a leaflet/brochure to handout to potential customers

hand out leaflets or flyers to your clients

No matter what industry or niche you are in,  always make sure there is some form of information about your company, what you do, name, number, email and web address.

Start handing these out along with business cards like confetti – I’ll be honest, you won’t immediately see results but you start getting a small trickle of referrals within a few months.

You can either have a small promotion on the leaflet on another product or service you offer. This will then entice your client to revisit or give it to a member of their friends or family.

Try it, it works a treat!

Creating a business marketing referral network

Start asking your clients what business they are in and grab a business card. Keep a small Rolodex in the office of all the cards you have collected.

This will be your little business network.

Now, if someone asks if you “know someone who can xxxxxxxxxx.” You should have a nice selection of cards with previous clients’ details. Don’t hand over the card, though. Simply write the details down on a piece of paper and suggest that they mention your name if they call.

Can you see how this all works?


Referral marketing may seem a bit alien at first, but I guarantee that if you put this into action tomorrow you’ll start reaping the benefits a few months from now – it just takes a bit of patience.

Once we have delivered a satisfactory result for our clients, we always ask for a referral. If you don’t, they simply don’t or they forget.

Do you do this in your business and if so, has it worked for you? I’d love to hear any interesting stories that you might like to share with the community 🙂


About the author

Des Dreckett is the eCommerce Marketing Director of XenMediamarketing.co.uk: a writer, blogger and a paid media specialist. Writing content to help you grow and build your business.

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