Top Five Things to Say to Customers To Make them Beg to be a Reference

Senior Strategic Creative Director

Few marketing assets are as compelling or credible as a good customer reference. When done well, it has the ability to prop up your brand on a cushion of goodwill, shaping audience perception and paving the way for new and prospective clients to engage with your company.

However, getting customers to participate in a reference can sometimes feel like a daunting task. You might worry that it’s an imposition on your client and that they’ll see the process of capturing their testimonial as some kind of inconvenience. Or worse: that it will somehow tarnish the hard-won relationship you’ve built with them.

Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, we’ve found that most customers delight in the process of making a reference, especially when they discover its many benefits.

Centerline has produced thousands of customer references across a variety of formats, platforms, and channels. This has enabled us to work with clients of all sizes and industries all over the world, and along the way we’ve picked up several best practices when it comes to creating a top-notch story. One of these best practices is on how to approach your customers about participating in a reference so that they’re as invested in doing it as you are.

So what’s the best way to go about it? Here are five surefire approaches to gain your client’s buy-in.

1. “We’d love to showcase your thought leadership in the industry.”

Thought leadership is a competitive differentiator that can deepen a brand’s standing in their market. Let your customers know that by participating in a reference, they’ll be positioned as a trusted expert in their field. Detail the range of topics you want them to cover and explain how you plan to feature it in the final product. By spotlighting their expertise, you offer them an exciting opportunity to deepen their brand’s equity and establish themselves as a true thought leader in the industry.

2. “You have an amazing story. We’d love to tell it.”

Savvy customers already know that participating in a reference isn’t just good for you, it’s also a great opportunity to showcase their own brand and tell their story. So why not highlight that benefit and make it your main selling point when engaging your customers? Show them how the reference will position their company, their people, and their achievements in a positive light and they’ll be thrilled to take part!

3. “Congratulations and welcome to a very small club.”

Being selective about who you feature helps ensure that your message stays consistent and that the quality stays high. Plus, it’s a great way to persuade your client to become a reference. Make sure they know that you’re inviting them to participate in a very exclusive opportunity that is only offered to a select few. Those who make the cut will be happy to know that they occupy a unique place in your organization apart from the crowd.

4. “A mutually beneficial marketing asset.”

Making a good customer reference is no small task but when done well, the end result is truly something special. Often, clients are so delighted with the outcome, they find the asset to be just as usable and appropriate for their own channels. So, when approaching a new candidate to participate in a customer reference, why not position it as an asset for them to use in their own marketing? When you communicate the business value of the reference and how much your client can benefit from it, they’ll truly see it as an opportunity.

5. “Celebrating our continued relationship.”

Successful business relationships are something to be appreciated and celebrated. In many ways, your investment in making a customer reference communicates to your client just how much you value them and are committed to a long-term partnership. In this way, the process of making the reference is a kind of celebration, commemorating the positive working relationship you share. Your clients will be impressed with your dedication and you’ll be impressed with how quickly they agree to participate.

Each of the above approaches is based on specific case studies that resulted in successful outcomes for all parties. But are these the only tactics at your disposal? Far from it! In fact, we’ve found there are many more ways to engage your customers about participating in a reference. Like any good story, it all comes down to the details.

So, which approach is right for you?

Our Story Enrollment Workshop can help you kickstart your next Customer Reference Program initiative. Contact us to learn more!



Senior Strategic Creative Director