Aiming to get more member referrals is a great way to grow your membership because there's no better way to prove that you're delivering value than to have happy members tell their friends. In fact, the time that you spend on setting up processes around member referrals will be well worth it for several reasons.
Benefits to Using Member Referrals
First of all, it's cost-effective.
Word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of advertising there is and it can literally cost you nothing once you get your initial systems set up. However, referrals won't just automatically happen. We might think that they will because we're awesome enough...but most people are busy and your organization is not necessarily top-of-mind for them. You definitely have to make an intentional effort to ask.
Secondly, it's scalable.
Scalable means that you can get more results without putting in more effort. Once you have the systems in place to ask for referrals and to follow up on those referrals, most of the work can be automated. At that point, it doesn't really matter if you get one referral a week, ten referrals a week, or a thousand referrals a week. Automation takes care of everything, so it's not additional work for you to get more member referrals!
Third, referrals build relationships.
And we are definitely in the relationship business! The referred person comes in as a much warmer connection than someone who is brand new to your organization. Plus, when you take exceptionally good care of the referred person, the member who referred them feels good about making the introduction.
Fourth, this is a sustainable strategy.
With other types of marketing, you often have to gear up for a big push or make a big investment anytime you want to implement. When you have a referral system in place, it just chugs away behind-the-scenes day-after-day without sucking up more resources.
Encouraging referrals is a really smart growth strategy. There's a big upside without much additional time and effort on the part of the membership leader.
To get those referrals rolling requires a bit of planning, though.
Things to incorporate into your member referral approach
1. Some type of landing page for your referral program, or at least a dedicated page on your website.
If you are offering any kind of incentive for referrals, you'll need someplace to talk about how that works. And even if you're not offering an incentive, you need someplace for members to submit their referrals.
2. A form for submitting the referred person's information
You'll want to capture the referred person's contact information so that you can reach out to them with follow-up. You should also capture the member's information so you can appropriately thank them and keep them in the loop if their referred person ultimately decides to join.
3. A follow-up sequence for the referred person
A well-constructed follow-up can make the difference between whether the potential new member is intrigued by what you offer, or if they just ignore you. When you use a software like JourneyCARE, you can build all sorts of things into a follow-up sequence to nurture this referral in a really special way. Incorporate emails, text messages, voicemail drops, personal reach-outs from one of your ambassadors, or a wide variety of other creative actions.
4. A follow-up sequence for your member who made the referral
At a minimum, you want to thank this person for thinking of your organization and going to the effort to refer their friend. Beyond that, be sure to add in a piece where you specifically let the member know when their friend joins. They may hear about it from the person that they referred, but it's also nice for them to hear it from you. It says that you noticed and appreciated their effort, which makes them more inclined to do it again in the future.
5. A process for automatic asks built into your membership journey
There are a lot of organizations that encourage referrals just at specific times during the year, like during a Member Appreciation Month or an annual membership drive. However, you can actually build the process of asking for referrals right on into your member care check-ins, perhaps timing them quarterly, or after major events, or when a member has submitted a testimonial, or if you've done a member profile story. As with most aspects of building an exceptional member journey, you are limited only by your imagination.
Most of these ideas could be implemented in your organization quickly. In fact, you may be doing some of these things, but not others...but all of these pieces kind of work together to create a well-oiled referral engine, so I encourage you to look at what's in place and what's not.
This last week, I did an over-the-shoulder training focused on how JourneyCARE can be used to encourage member referrals. If you missed that, you can connect with the live trainings here. You'll see all of the upcoming topics and be able to access past replays.
And, of course, if you'd like to chat about how to build this out for your organization, let's get on a Zoom and chat. In just 30 minutes, I'm confident I can show you how to start getting more referrals from your members in just 30 days.
You can hop directly into my calendar by going to joyofmembership.com/consult. There, you'll see days and times that are available and make an appointment instantly.
I'll be back next week with another great article. In the meantime, take care!
About Joy Duling
Joy Duling has been working with leaders of associations, trade groups, and nonprofits since 2005, through her consulting practice, which is aptly named, The Joy of Membership. In addition to her role as a trusted advisor, Joy served for more than a decade as Executive Director of a membership-based nonprofit herself and is a national speaker and podcaster on topics related to experience design and membership growth.
Connect with Joy on LinkedIn
Book a Consult on Joy's Calendar
originally posted here