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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Six ways to encourage clients to refer your business  

From offering previews of your products to throwing a party for clients, making them feel valued is a great way to further your brand

Among ways to help build your business is inviting clients on fun trips such as desert days, for instance to the Liwa desert, west of Abu Dhabi. Karim Sahib/AFP
Among ways to help build your business is inviting clients on fun trips such as desert days, for instance to the Liwa desert, west of Abu Dhabi. Karim Sahib/AFP

Advertisements, digital or traditional marketing and paying social influencers to mention your business are all great ways to market your brand.

But in the Arabian Gulf region, nothing works better than a good old word of mouth.

If a friend or someone we trust advocates it, then we will give it a try. An advertisement may intrigue, but a friend talking about the product or service will have our attention, and might convert us to buy or try it.

But how do you get your customers to refer your business? Do you simply ask them to? Or should you provide them with incentives to do so? There are many options to do that, but it’s best to be creative with your options, and to choose the most efficient way.

Here are a few ways to strengthen your relationship with your customers, and to earn more referrals for your business:

Get personal: Send thank you cards to your special clients after their purchase, or birthday cards to acknowledge their birthdays. You can also do that for first-time clients to retain them. Doing so in a creative way, either hand-written, or using a creative design, will not only catch their attention, but also means you’ll probably end up on their social media pages, especially if your packaging is creative. And being on Instagram is a strong referral platform nowadays. You will be exposed to their followers, and if your page is tagged, then that could drive clients to your page.

Break the news to them first: Keep your key clients in the loop. What many businesses do now is to keep their clients up to date with the latest news. Many retail brands where I’m a loyal customer share with me the latest images of products and inform me on sales via Whatsapp. Share the latest updates with your clients, and offer them access to view your latest collections or products before they hit the store. Not only will you make them feel that you value them as clients, but if the preview you're offering is creative and exclusive, then you can guarantee that the news will travel around, and more potential clients will know about your business.

Put your networking boots on: Consider every event, seminar, and conference as an opportunity to raise awareness about your business. What many tend to do is drag a friend to an event so that they don’t wind up alone or just grab a bite and leave after a talk. However, these events provide you with an opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals. Make sure your cards are packed, preferably attend an event alone and introduce yourself and your business to others.

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Throw a party just for them: A recreational activity, such as a trip abroad (if your business can afford it), a boat ride, or a desert day-trip, will bring you and your clients together in an informal setting. Everyone likes a nice treat, and it will also introduce you to a different side of them. You can start an informal discussion on how you think your business can perform better, or what products should you introduce next.

Many retailers and fashion brands in the UAE follow this approach, such as inviting social media influencers, who happen to be clients of theirs on fun trips, either abroad to an exotic location, or a day-trip in Dubai or the desert. In doing so, you turn your clients into friends, and also get to meet new clients.

Give, in order to take: If your key clients tell you they are facing an issue in an area that your business can’t assist them, with, then refer your contacts to them. Introduce them, for instance, to your trusted accountant, or videographer. This will build trust, as well as strengthen your relationship. Your clients will feel grateful, and most likely will reciprocate the act and refer your business to others.

Get social: It’s not enough that your active on social media, but engagement is key. If your clients share a post about your business, then you should repost or share on your social media pages. Not only will it show that you are supporting them, but you are interested in strengthening your relationship.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi