One of the main challenges that newbie image makers going into business is generating more customers. Consider creating an effective referral program for your business and you might just see your business thrive. If you think about it, it’s so expensive to run traditional advertising even running your own Google Adwords or MSN Adcenter can also be expensive.

How much are you spending to get new leads / customers into your business using advertising? How much are you spending per buying customer? Why not supplement your advertising with an incentivized referral program, it only cost you money if a referral customer buys, won’t that be a powerful approach? Consider this idea:

Reward Referrers, Incentivize Leads

Baby and child photographer Tennille King, for example, uses two kinds of rewards in her referral program. Each referral wins a $50 credit towards prints after the client’s next photography session — credits that can be combined to deliver large value deductions. But the new clients are also given a $25 coupon to help pay for their print order.

Clients aren’t just giving a card to a friend and receiving something with an apparently low value; they’re also giving a friend $25 of someone else’s money and receiving $50 for doing so.

Remillet now does something similar. She still uses referral cards but she limits the number she gives to just eight to make them look exclusive and special. She has also handed out free 3 x 3 accordion mini-books which are more attractive than referral cards and therefore more likely to be kept close and shown off. She offers gifts with each new purchase, such as a printed iPhone case, which guarantees that her photo will always be in a client’s handbag and motivates new leads to buy. And she keeps in touch with clients who have given her referrals, sending them handwritten notes thanking them for their recommendation and complimenting their friends, together with a gift certificate to a local theater.

Even more importantly though, Remillet tracks her results, identifying the rewards and the programs that are most likely to produce the best results.

Read the full article here.

One other way to do this is to ask your current client for the top 3 friends that will benefit from your discount program, and if the referral buys, your current customer gets discounts towards either their next photo session or prints.

Also, You would want to make sure your current customers continue to buy. A great way to do this is to have specials for existing customers every time there’s a holiday. Be sure to make it exclusive for your current customers to make them feel special.

So sit down and think about the last time you were referred to a company, what did the company do to make you a customer. Jot down 10 ideas and prioritize them according to simplicity, the easiest first and then the hardest last. And take action now, don’t wait, implement an idea today. If you do this, it will lead you to new ideas down the road.