Build and scale your online business.

Sharing Insights From Building A Solo Consulting Business, Working 15 Hours A Week, And Generating An 86% Profit Margin.

SSK #13: Establish your referral program the right way

Read time: 3 minutes.

Most of online businesses overcomplicate their business models and lead generation.

They come up with weird funnels, focus on competitors more than their clients, and are inconsistent in building their brand. 

Surprisingly, one of my most effective ways to build a $250k, 86% profit margin solo-consulting business (now scaling towards $1mil) is through referrals.

Before you roll your eyes and say "but you said yourself relying on referrals instead proactively chasing business is a mistake" hear me out.

Most people miss the mark when it comes to the referral game. A single, passive request like "Can you promote me?" rarely yields great results. 

Let's correct that.

Referral Program Blueprint

Here's a concise 4-step blueprint to establish your referral program the right way:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Incentivize
  3. Help them help you
  4. Remind

Be proactive

People won't promote your business out of pure goodwill; they have their own to manage.

Proactively ask them to promote you instead of waiting.

Remember that nobody will work on your business as hard as you. Which brings me to the next step


In every business move, place yourself in your clients' shoes and ask, "What's in it for me?"

Even if they're your biggest fans, they won't promote you unless you give them a reason.

Incentives address their "what's in it for me" concern.

The typical "kickback" for promotion ranges from 20-30%, similar to the cost of acquiring a new client through paid sources. You can tweak this percentage based on your situation, industry, and offer.

Additional ways to incentivize include:
  • decrease the invoice your client is supposed to pay
  • increase the scope of the work you provide them
  • make a valuable introduction for them

Help them help you

After proactively requesting promotion and providing incentives, ensure they promote you effectively.

Control the narrative – specify what, how, and to whom.

Rather than stating, "If you know anyone who needs my services, I'll pay you 30% of their first invoice," say:

"The next time you meet an e-commerce store owner struggling with low conversion rates, send them the below blurb about us and the attached PDF. We offer 30% commission for each paid invoice."

This approach specifies WHO, WHAT, and WHY to refer, while providing a copy-paste blurb. This streamlines the process and lets you manage what's said about you.

Why this works: you tell your client specifically WHO they should refer you to, with WHAT kind of a problem and WHY.

You also remove friction by giving them a copy-paste blurb about your business and what you do. That way you achieve two things:
  1. You make it easy for your clients to promote you
  2. You control what your clients say about you


Running a successful referral program is not set-and-forget situation. You need to remind your clients about the fact that you are looking for more business, the incentives and assets you have to help promote your business. 

A frequency of reminders will depend on the type of work you do, but a good rule of thumb is every 3 months. Another good moment is when you achieve great results for your clients, as this is when they're very happy with your work and will be more eager to support you. 

There you have it - 4 steps to a referral program that works:
  1. Be proactive
  2. Incentivize
  3. Help them help you 
  4. Remind 
Speaking of reminders - don't forget to Join our Online Business Growth Community on Slack. Almost 100 people are already there. And if you're part of it, make sure you check out what's been posted in the channels, as that's where I share exclusive content (ex. linkedin growth, content strategy, growth strategy, steps to start and grow a consulting business...)

p.s are we connected on LinkedIn or Twitter?

...and whenever you're ready, here are a few ways I can help you. If you're still trying to figure things out, I'd recommend starting with an affordable course:

1. The World Domination Strategy Game: a comprehensive tool for online entrepreneurs designed to simplify the process of creating a business strategy. A distillation of the best coaching exercises derived from working with over 800 online entrepreneurs. It provides clear, step-by-step instructions across 14 modules, supplemented with 20+ videos, exercises, files, and templates. The game can be used individually or with a team. The users are given access to additional resources like 40 pages of instructions, assignments, techniques, motivation.

2. The Marketing Agency Scaling Roadmap:Introducing: the 9 CRUCIAL categories and 27 power activities you need to focus on at each stage of growth: $5k-$25k/mo -> $25k-$50k/mo -> $50k-$100k+/mo. 5 Modules. 4 hours of ACTIONABLE content. Milk, honey, butterflies and rainbows and so much more...

3. LinkedIn Prospecting: In this training, I'm giving you the nuts and bolts of what it takes to make LinkedIn prospecting a success. I'm peeling back the curtain to show you exactly how I utilize it, while also sharing my personal insights and experiences from leveraging LinkedIn to secure leads and clients.

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