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How to Give Stuff Away to Generate Referrals

I write about the power of building a network of strategic marketing partners a lot. I truly believe it’s an underutilized small business strategies.

Gift boxGetting a group of like-minded business to market each others products and services adds exposure, creates new demand and builds on some already established trust.

I think people get the idea, but the challenge is often in finding ways to logically work together and promote each other. I shared a number of ideas on sharing content for referrals last week, but in this post I would like to offer another great way to work with your partners – give their stuff away.

I bought a pair of running shoes a while back from an online seller and when I opened the box I found a note from the owner along with a pair of socks and some energy bars and snacks. First off, I loved the surprise element, but being a nosy marketer I contacted the owner and found that these were gifts from a couple of his closest strategic partners. Of course there was also information about how I could order more of these items as well.

Think about how you might use this idea with existing or future strategic partners.

Do you have a trial or small product that your partners would love to give as a gift? Are there partners you work with currently that would have something you could give away?

By building gifts into your products you create extra buzz with your customers and gain extra exposure both for and from your strategic referral partners – all of these elements can create even more referrals.

And you don’t have to limit your thinking to free products. One way to get a potential or current strategic partner’s attention is to buy some of their products or gift cards for their products to use as thank you gifts.

As a matter of fact, you don’t have to limit your thinking to products at all. I received a subscription pitch from a business publication that included a free offer from a partner to evaluate my pay-per-click advertising efforts.

Any consultant could offer a valuable 30 minute audit of sort. (My consultant network uses something we call a Signature Brand Audit to offer a very useful marketing analysis by way of a questionnaire and one on one meeting – this kind of tool could be a great gift to a customer base.)

There are a number of service cropping up that can help organization make gifts to clients by finding local businesses. For example, a service called Yiftee allows a business to find something unique right in the community where a client or prospect may live. Yelp allows local businesses to feature gift certificates as well making it easy to find good products and services locally. I think this approach adds a nice personal touch.

Along this same line of thinking, check out this free eBook from HelpScout – 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers for some additional ideas on gifting for referrals.

This is such a simple, powerful and elegant idea that any business with a little creativity can employ.

So, what will you give away today?

Weekend Favs February Twenty Three

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

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I’m in Phoenix this week and snapped this on a hike

Good stuff I found this week:

MagicFuture – Suite of goal setting, habit forming and future planning tools.

Drafts – Interesting note taking app that integrates with lots of actions, networks and services.

Yiftee – local gift service allows you to send local gifts to people from your mobile.