Navigating Client Referrals and Gifting: Insights from Agency Leaders

7 months ago

Agency leaders discussed the in’s and out’s of client gifting and referrals

In a recent discussion on a digital forum, agency leaders came together to discuss the age-old question: how to effectively nurture client referrals?

During the digital age, word-of-mouth can elevate or sink a brand, so it is important that client referrals are no taken for granted. For businesses, especially agencies, a client referral can be like gold dust – and in recognising this, it can help agency leaders to to refine their approach and master the art of gathering valuable endorsements.

And this week a number of successful agency leaders took to a digital forum to discuss the in’s and out’s of client referrals. The discussion turned into a melting pot of ideas, strategies and experiences and gave the business heads an opportunity to deep dive into how to incorporate referrals from the beginning stages to creating incentives that resonate.

The conversation was started by a branding expert expressing the need for a more structured process that goes beyond casual mentions or emails. They said: “Like most agencies we get a lot of work via word of mouth/recommendations, but quite often clients won’t know we’re on the hunt for new leads. Outwith dropping into conversation or sending as a question email ‘will you keep us in mind to recommend…’ is there a more robust approach that’s been working well?”

Offering advice, one person suggested that during the onboarding process for a new client, it should be mentioned that they will be asked for a referral at some point to make it less awkward. They added: “Then at review stage you can ask the question (if all goes well of course). Also, if you measure NPS, that is a good trigger for asking for a recommendation from any high scorers.”

I’ve found that they sort of person motivated by a bit of small change for doing a referral isn’t someone I’d like my business to be associated with

A second person offered up four things that they have seen work well in the past, whilst also allowing the client to have some control. These are:

  • Referral Commission
  • Consultancy days in lieu to the equivalent amount of commission is seen as a no no
  • Gifting
  • Donate to one of three charities selected by your agency

And despite a number of leaders being interested in the gifting aspect, sharing that they use incentives such as memberships and beauty packs, a few were not a fan of kick-backs.

One person shared: “I’ve never been a fan of kick-backs or money for referrals. I’d usually a small amount of money and a large amount of admin.

“I’ve also found that they sort of person motivated by a bit of small change for doing a referral isn’t someone I’d like my business to be associated with.”

They then went on to detail that in the past they have found referral agreements work best. Finding something that could help a potential referral solve a problem or help them achieve a goal can end in a good partnership.

Another leader agreed with this sentiment, saying: “Some agencies will do charitable gifting in return for a referral, but actually mention it after the fact so it’s a nice surprise.

“Strategic partnerships are also a good idea. If you can find an organisation with similar target clients and complementary services you can refer each other.”

What is your view on client referrals and gifting? Is it something your agency struggles with or do you have a good system in place?

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