Everyone in the agency should contribute to new business and one of the best ways to encourage lead generation is through a referral program.
A referral program is one of the most cost-effective and efficient methods for generating new business for small-to-midsize ad agencies. Here are my 12 tips on how to create or enhance your agency’s new business referral program:
- Identify the kinds of clients you are looking for and set parameters for qualifying leads (size, niche or category, etc.) so all employees know the kinds of clients you want to pursue.
- Make your process simple and easy to understand. Your staff will not be willing to jump through lots of hoops to participate.
- Set goals such as getting a 75 percent participation rate or a certain number of referrals per employee by year’s end.
- Regularly encourage employees to make referrals. Get in front of them often and present a clear message of how your new business referral program works, why they are an integral part of its success, and what’s in it for them.
- As a way to increase the quality of referrals, pay out their incentives in two stages, offering an initial payout upon a referral as well as a second, supplementary bonus if the initial lead turns into a new account for the agency. The “right” reward will depend upon your agency’s size and the size of the new business account.
- For initial leads offer gift cards, movie tickets, dinner or non-monetary prizes like reserved parking spaces or a cubicle by the window, or thanking them at a reception with their peers. I would suggest rewarding ALL qualified referrals in some way to ratchet-up participation.
- If the referral leads to a new account for your agency, provide a much larger financial bonus or allow employees too earn extra vacation days – with pay.
- Be sure to publicly say “thank you” to the person who supplied the lead that generates new business. Make it impressive enough that employees will proactively feed you names on a regular basis.
- Teach your staff how to ask for referrals and train them to be better networkers, especially integrating social media into the mix of tools available. You will systematically turn your employees into indispensable brand advocates.
- Do a good job of providing periodic status updates. Employees will be frustrated with the lack of follow-up on the status of their referrals.
- Continuously find ways to improve the program.
- Create consistency. The deeper you draw your employees into the hunt for new business “hunt,” the easier it will be for your agency will stay focused and consistent in generating new business.
If you have a rewards program that works for your advertising, digital, media or PR agency, please share it in the comment section below.
Additional articles that may be of interest:
- 10 Tips For Creating a Game Plan For Ad Agency New Business
- Ad Agencies: Three Things a New Business Director Needs for Success
- 10 Advantages When Ad Agencies Focus New Business Efforts on Their “Sweet Spot”
- Add A Fact Sheet for Ad Agency New Business
- The Changing Role of Ad Agency Rainmakers
- 6 Practical Tips for Ad Agency RFP Responses