How to Get Referrals: Create & Automate Your System

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Building a Storybrand" by Donald Miller. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to get referrals? Why are referrals good for your company?

Knowing how to get referrals can help your company grow. People trust recommendations from other customers, so getting referrals is an important part of brand trust and recognition.

Keep reading to find out how to get referrals.

How to Get Referrals

A referral system encourages satisfied customers to recommend your brand to others. According to studies by the American Marketing Association, recommendations and referrals are up to 250% more effective than other marketing efforts, and anecdotally, many business owners say that they get most of their new customers via word of mouth.

(To learn more about harnessing word of mouth, read our summary of Jonah Berger’s Contagious.)

First you’ll need to know how to get referrals. Let’s get started.

Create Your Referral System

So what’s the best way for learning how to get referrals? There’s a step-by-step process to creating a referral system:

Step #1: Assemble a database of existing customers. In order to help your current customers tell their friends about you, you need to know who your current customers are and how to contact them. Then you’ll work on learning how to get more referrals.

  • For example, Domino’s Pizza invites customers to create an account on their website through which they can order and pay for their pizzas online. Domino’s collects their contact information and can get in touch with them about anything from reorder reminders before sports events to a potential referral campaign.

Step #2: Create a transitional call to action, specifically a video or PDF, that customers can pass on to their friends. The video should show the solution to a problem.

  • For example, after finishing a project with a customer, you might send an email with a link to a video that says something along the lines of: We know many people experience this problem. You can pass this video along to anyone trying to fix this problem, and if they need more help, feel free to give them our contact information.

Step #3: Reward customers for referrals (optional). You can reward customers either: 1) by giving them a gift or discount if they recommend your brand and someone purchases as a result or 2) creating an affiliate program. An affiliate program gives a customer a percentage of the sale that resulted from them directing someone to you. This will help you learn how to get more referrals.

  • Reward example: A wedding photographer offered couples a free anniversary photo shoot if the couple could give her three referrals when they got married.
  • (Shortform example of an affiliate program: The Amazon Affiliate program works like this: Website owners place links to Amazon on their sites. When someone clicks through the link and buys something on Amazon, the website owner earns a small percentage of the sale.)

Automate Your Referral System

Now that you know how to get referrals, you can automate your system. You can use your email campaign software to set up an automatic referral system. Whenever a customer places an order, set up a campaign that sends them a transitional call to action to share or notifies them about a potential reward if they make a referral. Make sure you set up the system so it stops sending these emails after a customer places multiple orders so they don’t get annoyed.

Learning how to get referrals is an essential part of your business. You’ll need to be able to get referrals to get customers, and knowing how to get more referrals will help the business grow.

How to Get Referrals: Create & Automate Your System

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Donald Miller's "Building a Storybrand" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Building a Storybrand summary:

  • How storytelling enhances brand marketing
  • Why you should make the consumer the hero of your brand's story
  • The 7 elements that make marketing work

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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