Capturing Repeat and Referral Business


By Stacey Zable

Beyond delivering superior customer service, the promotional efforts listed below are some of the ways that small businesses can boost their repeat and referral business.

Product Giveaways

Use seasons and the holidays as hooks for special promotions, as Bel Essence – Nutrition for the Skin does. It is currently the “Season of Savings” through the end of the year for the natural skincare company based in Philadelphia. It offers “weekly sales/freebies with orders and monthly gift bags randomly awarded,” says CEO Debora Pokallus. The company also provides free samples and free shipping as a part of every order throughout the year.

Some 60 percent of Bel Essence’s business is repeat. “We are fortunate to have very loyal customers who love our products,” says Pokallus. “However, we do not take them for granted, and we want their experience to be memorable.”

Some 70 percent of business is repeat for Los Angeles-based, which provides financial advice and lending options for businesses, according to Mike Abelson, editorial director. He suggests a “freebie giveaway” as a thank you for existing clients. “Customers that shop with your small business—or even just subscribe to your email or engage on social media—can be rewarded with free products through a sweepstakes-style offer,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be much, and a giveaway could be a wonderful way to get rid of any excess inventory you may have.”

Loyalty Programs

Fitpacking, a backpacking adventure vacation company based in Hull, Mass., has what owner Steve Silberberg calls “an aggressive loyalty program that rewards customers for continued patronage.” Over half of the company’s participants have been on one of its trips before. It offers a $100 discount on second trips and a $200 discount for third trips. “It keeps increasing so that a client can receive up to $500 off of each subsequent trip ($700 for longer trips),” adds Silberberg. “The benefit never diminishes or expires. Furthermore, after 12 trips with us, clients receive a free ‘Baker’s Dozen’ trip from us.”

New Client Referrals

Mark Weinman, owner of Pivot Point Management Advisors, rewards existing customers when they refer new clients to his Bridgewater, N.J.-based consulting firm that helps small and mid-size businesses achieve success. “When someone contacts me and says they were referred to me from XX or YY, I always either call or send a note of thanks [to the existing client],” says Weinman. “Then the next time I send them a bill, the bill will show a 10 percent discount for the referral.”

Bel Essence – Nutrition for the Skin rewards both customers for a referral. It gives the new customer from a referral a 10 percent discount and the person doing the referring a 15 percent discount, says Pokallus.