For a week, forget the expensive, complicated marketing efforts and focus on something simple, cheap (and very achievable): Make a referral.
In an effort to jump start small businesses – and remind them of the power of a single referral – marketing expert John Jantsch is launching Make a Referral Week 2010 March 8 through 12.
The goal of the event – in its second year – is simple: To provide 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses across the country. And yes, the event hit its goal last year.
Here's how it works: Click here and refer whoever you think could use the business. That's it -- one item ticked off your to-do list.) One referral story will be chosen as "best of the day" and both the referred business and its source will win signed books from marketing experts. You can also share and spread the word on your blog or web site by clicking here. For updates, follow #marw10 on Twitter. (Unconvinced about the power of referral? In supporting the event on their blog, marketing experts Randy and Donny Vaughn write that they know of businesses where 100 percent of new customers come from referrals.)
Along with what Jantsch has dubbed the "small business referral stimulus package" there's also a weeklong free web event that will feature daily educational programs to help company owners put referral marketing to work. The featured topics include strategic partnering, face-to-face networking, low-cost referral strategies, using social media, word-of-mouth marketing strategies, creating customer evangelists and more. For a list of guest experts, click here. The big event: a Jantsch-moderated panel on "Creating a Referral Engine," to be held March 10 at noon CST featuring Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and author Masters of Networking, Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals and the Go-Givers Sell More, and Ben McConnell, author of Creating Customer Evangelists. To register, click here.
Jantsch himself will speak on the seven simple steps for marketing success during a one-hour webinar at 2 pm EST March 17. (Yes, after Make a Referral Week is over.) To register, click here.
"Small business marketing is an event, not a system," Jantsch said. "Too many business owners fall into the chaotic cycle of producing the 'marketing idea of the week' and miss an opportunity to produce significant and sustainable marketing results."
Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing (and an occasional Inc. contributor), hopes to remind businesses to refer throughout the year by tagging Mondays "Make a Referral Monday." And if you haven't gotten around to using Twitter yet, here's your moment: Jantsch calls it an "awesome" accountability tool and is asking followers to Tweet their referrals with #marm as a hashtag each Monday. (Need a Twitter primer? Click here.)
How have referrals helped your business? What strategies do you use to get good ones?
Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.