I woke up at 4am.

“Oh no, the bath is the wrong way round, the lights are in the wrong place, I’ve ordered the wrong vanity unit and the feature wall needs to be on the opposite side!”

I lay awake for an hour, convinced that every decision I’d made about my new bathroom was wrong.

When I woke again at 9am, I decided to stick with Plan A. When I told my plumber, he was very relieved.

Yes, I’m currently having a new bathroom fitted in my house. I also had a new boiler fitted and an old chimney breast removed. The work should be finished any day now.

It’s been dusty, messy and a lot of upheaval. That’s what building work is like.

I’ve seen both sides, because many of my clients are in the property business. They include:

  • Landlords (we write web copy and Spareroom ads for them)
  • Interior designers (we write web copy and newsletters for them)
  • Painter/decorators and other trades (we write web copy, doordrop leaflets and other marketing materials for them)

We also generate ideas that will help property professionals win more business.

Here’s how I think about it…

Customers are usually happiest at the end of the job, when all the snagging has been done.

That’s when they are most likely to have friends, family and neighbours round to admire the transformation. And those people are likely to ask who did the work.

I therefore suggest that my clients have something to give their customers at that point, making referrals easy.

For example, an interior designer might produce a photo book (you can do it easily and cheaply online) containing images of the original mood board, the work along the way, and the finished room. Of course, their contact details will be on the back.

What is their customer going to do? Keep the book on their coffee table ready to show everyone who visits.

A painter/decorator might print some postcards with a lovely image and their branding on the front and, perhaps, a voucher on the back offering £50 off any work over £500 booked in the next six months.

If my client gives half a dozen postcards to their happy customer at the end of the job, those customers will have them ready to hand out to visitors. Their contacts therefore get a trusted personal recommendation and a ‘deal’. It’s a win:win:win.

Referral schemes like this used to be called MGM when I worked in corporate life. It stood for Member Get Member, although – don’t tell anyone – we sometimes called it Betray a Friend.

It works because of the EAST model (see Inside the Nudge Unit by David Halpern).

E = Easy. Make it easy for people to do what you want them to do

A = Attractive. Make your marketing piece look nice. This makes even more sense when you’re promoting something visual, such as home improvements

S = Social. Harness the power of social proof, because what other people say about you is more compelling than anything you say yourself

T = Timely. Do your marketing at the right time, when people are most likely to act on it

How can you adapt these ideas to help your customers to refer your own business?

P.S. Do I have a copywriter on my team who specialises in interiors? Funny you should ask. Yes, I do. Meet Sally.

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