Asking Past Clients for Referrals-Best Practice Tips

By: Shama Hyder

Recently, we decided to launch a referral campaign for one of our clients. They have just opened a new office in Texas, and would like to get the word out to past and present clients. Since we don’t specialize in direct mail type pieces, I turned to the one man I know who is the best in his field. Dean Rieck of Direct Creative.

I asked:

Are there any best practices when doing a direct mail piece to current and past clients asking for referrals? As copywriter extraordinaire-I thought you might have some insight!

Dean replied:

I’ve always taken the straightforward approach when asking for referrals. During a phone conversation, I’ll just tell them that referrals are important to me and that I’d like the client to feel free to recommend me to others.

I’ve not done this in a direct mail piece, but if I did I’d be just as upfront. Maybe send a few business cards and say that while I’m choosey about clients, I know a referral from that client would carry a lot of weight. That way I get in flattery while asking for a favor. I might also send them a gift, like a free report or a recent article I wrote, as a thank you in advance. That gets reciprocity working as well.

I think the key to referrals is to build the groundwork well ahead of time. Do favors for your clients. Then when you need a favor, they’re indebted to you. I learned that from The Godfather.

I guess I owe Dean a favor! = )

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  • Life Coach Business

    I’ve found that most clients are happy to offer referrals if we just ask them. Setting the tone for it upfront is very helpful, I agree.

  • Small Business Coach

    Hi Shama,

    Great article, there seem to be as many ways to ask for referrals as there are experts to ask! I think the key to it is in The Godfather’s approach. Do favours for your clients so that they will want to do favours for you.

    There’s a good post on Seth’s Blog about referrals too, and of course I’ve got one on mine too ;-)