How to get customers to bring a friend

November 15, 2009
Written by John Stanley
In my conference presentations I often mention that women who shop with their friends spend twice as long shopping in store and spend money a lot more freely. I mention that every retailer should have a strategy to encourage women to shop in pairs.
I first came across the value of shopping with friends when I read “How to Shop with Mary Queen of shops” by Mary Portas. In her book she reveals the following research.
Average Shopping Times:
Woman with a Man: 4 minutes 421 seconds
Woman Alone" 5 Minutes 2 seconds
Woman with a female companion: 8 minutes 51 seconds

Delegates often talk to me after my presentation and ask for examples on how they could introduce such a strategy into their business.
Think about it, one of the best marketing campaigns you could develop would be one where your existing customers bring their friends, stay twice as long and both parties spend more money.

How can you develop such a strategy? Here are a few ideas.

1.    Coffee is an incentive.
I have a number of clients who have developed a promotion where they offer a complimentary cup of coffee to a regular client if they bring a friend who has not been to their store before. They pay for the regular customer’s coffee, the regular customer pays for their guest’s. During the transaction the retailer introduces themselves to the guest and offers them a complimentary coffee on their next visit if they bring a friend. The process is then repeated.

2.    Have a ‘bring a friend’ promotion.
Promote “bring a friend” through your loyalty scheme and have specific promotions that are only available to two women shopping together. This can be a “silent” promotion, one that is not obvious to your regular shoppers.

3.    Link with other retailers for a ladies day.

4.    I was recently visiting Lake Elsinore Shopping Outlet  in Southern California. This shopping centre arranged coach parties for ladies to the shopping centre. Lunch was provided and I’m told bookings were going exceptionally well.

5.    Promote an in-house fashion event.
Create a fashion show, it could be related to clothing, pets, indoor or outdoor living. Such an event will naturally encourage customers to “phone a friend” so that they can both join in the event.

6.    Which brings me to “Phone a Friend.”
Build a marketing campaign around “Phone a Friend”. Put the idea into the consumer’s mind. Develop some promotions and suggest they phone a friend to spread the message.

7.    Build a relationship and customers will bring in their friends to meet you.
Friendships mean that you have moved on past customer service, you have built a relationship with the customer. Once you have a friend they will introduce you to their friends. The real key to success is relationship building, not providing customer service.

8.    Get consumers involved in growing your business.
Consumers enjoy getting involved, why not ask your customers how you can improve your business and what ideas do they have to build your business with their circle of friends. I’m sure the ideas will start flowing.

John Stanley is an internationally acclaimed conference speaker and retail consultant.  The author of  several marketing and retail books including the best seller “Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know”, John’s retail expertise covers shopping centres, malls, supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centres, farmers markets and drug stores.  For more information on how he can help your business, council or centre, visit his website or email \n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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