The Referral Marketing Strategy That Signed Up 100,000 New Emails in 1 Week – And Probably Won’t Work For Your Business

Tim Ferriss recently posted about how a couple guys from a razor company,, grew their list from a few hundred to 100,000 in 1 week by deploying a sophisticated online referral marketing campaign.

Here is Tim Ferriss’ post.

Basically, the campaign offered great prizes and giveaways – and all you had to do was tell your friends about Harry’s.

This is referral marketing at its best, right?

Well … maybe.

Why Harry’s Succeeded – And You Might Not

It certainly worked for these guys; and if you’re a company like them, it could work for you too.

But if you’re not like them, chances are that a referral marketing campaign like the one they did could actually backfire. Meaning, you could lose way more than you gain, in terms of time money and other resources that get sucked up.

So let’s take a look at some of the other things they did, to gauge whether or not you’re like them:

  • they spent 2 years researching the men’s shaving market before launching their company
  • they had a team of 10 people working with them during those 2 years (which means they were also paying those 10 people)
  • they imported their blades from a specialty manufacturer in Germany
  • they had razor handles designed just for them, by engineers who specialized in knife grips and pen barrels

In other words, they started out with enough cash to fund their startup for 2 years, they had the vision and the ambition to build something this big this fast, and they had the practical and emotional resources to pull it all together.

If those things aren’t true of you – in other words, if you own a small business – then you probably wouldn’t have the kind of success they did doing a referral marketing campaign like this!

You Can Still Benefit From What They Did

Does that mean that their story holds no value for you? Of course not. Let’s examine some of the thinking behind their launch.

Free Downloadable Script to Get More Referrals

Step by step planning guide so you can develop a winning referral program! 

Step 1: Make Special People Feel Special

This is a step that any business can replicate. There are two fundamental parts:

  1. acknowledge that the first few people to find out about your brand, buy your products and services, help you grow your business ARE very, very special. Instill deep gratitude in yourself about these people.
  2. Discover ways to give them something that will make them feel special.

In Harry’s case, things like “insider access” and “sneak peek” and “free product” worked like a charm.

In your case, what is the most special thing you can offer to your early adopters? It must be whatever people most want from you and your products and services – and then kick it up a notch.

Remember that it’s possible to create or name a desire that your customers didn’t actively know they wanted. For instance, nobody was craving insider access to the evolving world of men’s shaving – until Harry’s told them they should be.

Step 2. Choose Tangible Rewards and Make Them Achievable

The heart of any referral program is the “what’s in it for me” part. Yes, people refer you because they love your products and services; and yes people refer you because it’s in their nature to help both you and their friends. [Tweet “The heart of any referral program is the “what’s in it for me” part.”]

But the thing that keeps your most active referral sources coming back with more referrals is the reward.

In Harry’s case, the tangible reward was free product. Depending on your business model, you may or may not be able to offer your products and services for free as referral bonuses. But what CAN you offer – a Starbucks gift card? a raffle ticket to win an iPad or a TV? dinner and a movie for two?

One key component of Harry’s launch that will ALSO work for you is they offered numerous referral levels, as follows:

5 friends = free shave cream

10 friends = free razor

25 friends = free premium razor

50 friends = free shaving for a year

If you currently do referral marketing, ask yourself: “Have I ever asked anybody for fifty referrals?? And did I actually expect them to do it??”

One of the biggest “secrets” to successful sales is asking. If you don’t ask, you’re almost certain not to get it. But if you DO ask … 😉 [Tweet “The biggest “secret” to sales is ASKING. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. But if you DO ask …”]

Step 3: Make Sharing as Fun as Humanly Possible

The way that Harry’s did this is admittedly difficult to replicate if you aren’t going full-out like they did. An on-screen tracker is one of the perks of having a fancy online system of doing this whole thanks customers for referrals

But can you make it fun in smaller ways?

  • Include a list of your top referral partners in your newsletter (this might even spark some friendly competition!)
  • Mention the name of every single person who sent you a referral that month
  • Come up with some fun way to let them know they’ve met one of your levels – send them a singing telegram; make a goofy video announcing their accomplishment and email it to them

Or my personal favorite – make a poster telling them what they’ve done and hang it around your dog’s neck in a photo!!

Step 4: Make Sharing as Easy as Humanly Possible
This is a fundamental principle of any marketing campaign – make it easy! Include the link, the buttons, the info right at their fingertips.

Step 5: Start by Telling Your Friends Using Email, Social, etc

This is the part of Harry’s campaign that any business owner can duplicate most readily. Because on a grass-roots level, it’s all about the relationships! And you have some relationships, don’t you? Of course you do.

  • Reach out to those people.
  • Ask them to support you.
  • Use the templates that the post gives you – they rock!

Step 6: Protecting Yourself against Fraud

There are some benefits to being a Small Fry, and this is one of them. When your referral marketing campaign is designed to attract dozens, not tens of thousands, of people your chances of being scammed are greatly reduced.

Trust in the fact that virtually everybody who will be participating is just one or two degrees away from you personally, and you’ll be fine.

Step 7: Cross Your Fingers. You Never Know What’ll Happen

Excellent advice for everyone, no matter what you’re pursuing in life.

If you think it’s possible – then it is!!

What did you think?