This InkSoft Marketing Kit is sponsored by our friends at S&S Activewear.


Bottom Line Up Front: In the quickest marketing strategy we’ve ever covered, you’ll learn how to activate your network to promote for you — in a manner that’s proven to be much more effective than any tactic you could tackle yourself. Details inside!

For the past several months, you’ve been receiving Marketing Kits from us that help you learn, earn, and grow. And from a results standpoint, this one’s no different.

But from a process standpoint? This is the easiest strategy we’ve ever delivered. The cleanest, quickest, most surefire approach to reaching higher marketing prowess and unlocking every morsel of selling potential.

Do we have your attention? Good — keep it peeled for the next three minutes.

Today, the name of the game is referral marketing. Social media referral marketing, to be exact. We’re breaking down how you can use your existing customers, and your existing audience, to fuel your marketing power — while you sit back and focus your efforts elsewhere.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Let’s jump in.

Social Media Referral Marketing: The Basics

As humans, we’re naturally inclined to believe what the people around us have to say. That inclination grows exponentially when it’s people we trust. That’s Given #1.

Given #2 also encompasses the human condition, but it does so in the reverse way: as humans, we’re naturally predispositioned to want to share our experiences with the people around us. Particularly if the experiences are good.

Referral marketing is built on those givens. At its simplest definition, it’s the process of your customers sharing their positive experiences (involving your brand) with their friends, their networks, or your larger audience. But it’s not that cut and dry; the strategy as a whole is rife with opportunities for customization, such as…

  • How will you motivate your customers to share?
  • Which platform(s) will they share through?
  • What kind of sharing (short product reviews, longer testimonials) will they do?

The wide potential for variability in process means that whatever your goals are, and whoever your audience is, this strategy can work. But before it can work, you need to believe in it. Here are some quick facts to help get you there:

Throw all of those facts together (and add in that referral marketing is the cheapest marketing tactic you’ll find anywhere) and you should be all set to confidently move forward with the strategy. No? Still not convinced? Well, if you want to see the strategy at work with real-world examples, we can’t hold that against you:

  • Case Study #1: Dollar Shave Club put out a deeply entertaining YouTube video featuring their CEO. The subscription service earned 25 million views — because viewers were so entertained that they kept sharing it with their networks — and by the end of the video’s first week, the brand had 25,000 customers. That’s referral marketing.
  • Case Study #2: Dropbox offered 16 GB in storage absolutely free when customers invited their friends — for every friend that installed, both parties would receive 500 MB of space up to that 16 GB cap. In 15 months, they lept from 100k users to 4M users. That’s referral marketing.

If those major companies — both still industry legends to this day — got the boost they needed from their unique referral marketing tactics, then the strategy can certainly do something magical for your business too. Greater reach, greater visibility, and greater interest — but really, that’s just the start.

Because where you have reach, where you have visibility, and where you have interest, you’ll always have selling power. Here’s how you take the strategy and make it your own.

Social Media Referral Marketing: The Implementing

So you understand that, at its core, this strategy involves motivating your customers to share your business with the people around them. That’s the simple foundation. Where things get more elaborate — and more fun — is in how you choose to bring it to life.

Like we said before: there’s room for massive variability. Depending on your goals, your audience, and your capabilities, your approach to social media referral marketing could look completely different from the business’s down the street. In fact, that’s sort of what you’re aiming for.

Like most marketing tactics, this one takes off when it gives its audience something different. When it causes them to do a double-take, and when it promises them something they haven’t seen before. So keep that in mind as you read the simple steps for activation — because creativity will be your secret weapon.

The steps for seamless implementing:

  1. Determine Your Goals: As the saying goes, planning makes perfect. (Oh, that’s not what that saying is? Well, it should be.) If you want a marketing strategy of any kind to work, you need to know what it ‘working’ looks like. Is it more sales of a certain product? More visitors to the site? More followers on Instagram? By establishing the criteria for success before you do anything else, you’re giving your team a clear destination — and encouraging creative ideas for getting there.

    It’s worth noting: beyond just giving you the right jumping-off point, this step also gives you the right scale for weighing your progress. You’ll be able to articulate how well your tactic is working based on how well it’s hitting your expected (and hopefully quantified) goals, enabling you to shift gears and adjust where need be down the road.
  2. Know Your Audience: Once you have your goals set, start shifting your gaze away from your operations and towards your audience. Think about your customers — what would be meaningful enough to motivate them to share? What kind of communications/platforms do they like? What types of people/businesses comprise their networks? These are the questions that’ll help you figure out the most effective way to reach your audience, appeal to them, and drive them to act.
  3. Pinpoint Your Incentive: When you have a good understanding of the people (and businesses) you’re appealing to, get to work on translating their needs and behaviors into actionable incentives. Here’s an example: if a large proportion of your customers is in the corporate space, their orders are likely larger in scale — which means a $50 off coupon won’t motivate them in the same way it would motivate an individual who’s purchased t-shirts for a family reunion in the past. For this referral marketing program to work, the incentive needs to be strong enough to drive mass action — and that comes down to meeting your audience’s needs where they are.

And keep in mind: a specific amount of money off an order isn’t your only option for incentive. You can offer a Buy One Get One Half Off incentive, a 5% off every order for the next month incentive, or even an automatic entry into a raffle for a larger reward incentive. The sky’s the limit, so get brainstorming.

  1. Determine Your Ask: Armed with a clear idea of what you’ll be offering in reward for completing the task, it’s time to consider the task itself. Will you be asking your customers to leave a testimonial of their experience with your business on Facebook? Will you be asking them to share pictures of their products (and tag you) on Instagram? Will you be asking them to retweet your latest ad video?

    You have tons of options, and the right path forward will come down to the goals you outlined in Step 1. If you’re looking for an increased Instagram following, asking for mentions on Instagram is crucial. If you want to accrue more positive testimonials for your business’s website, then asking for reviews is the way to go. The key? Ensuring the intensity of the ask and the intensity of the incentive are aligned. (If it’s a big ask, you’re going to have to pony up a bigger reward.)
  2. Shout From the Roof: Once you have the right framework in place for your program, it’s time to promote the heck out of it. Your audience will only be active participants in the tactic if they know about the tactic, so it’s your responsibility to make them aware. Post visually appealing graphics with participation instructions on your social media channels, post explainer text on your website (front and center on the home page!), and consider producing quick videos — for Instagram or TikTok — where your team outlines the opportunity and the reward.

    Whether the program is big-ask-and-big-reward level or much smaller in scope, the key to generating the attention you want to get is increasing awareness. The more you promote, the more bites you’ll get from your audience — and the more bites you’ll get from their audience.

There you have it: the five steps to quick and fruitful referral marketing success. The best part? When you get to implementing the strategy, you’ll be activating your customers to serve as your own marketing force — for virtually no payment.

And that free marketing will generate far greater impact than your own marketing ever could’ve accrued because people take the word of people they know. So when your customers share their satisfaction, their networks will listen.

Social Media Referral Marketing: The Tips & Tricks

Before we part ways, we thought we’d give you some industry specific tips & tricks for optimal execution:

  • Solidify the Story: As a business owner, you know how integral defining your brand identity, your brand’s story, is to maintaining your distinct place in the market. And just as story is crucial to distinguishing you from the competition, it’s also crucial to distinguishing this marketing tactic from all the other ones flooding your audience’s social feeds. So, at every moment in the referral marketing process, the why behind why you’re putting this tactic out there should be clear.

    Are you looking to expand your community? Say that. Are you looking to sell more products from your own brand line because you’re sending 15% of all profits to the local charity? Say that. Are you looking to set more small businesses up with your e-commerce capabilities? Say that, say that, say that.

    The more you can do to hook your audience with authenticity, the easier it’ll be to get them taking the action you want them to take. And when they take that action, their networks will be hooked by that same realness. (And your offerings won’t hurt either.)
  • Establish the Experience: With the capabilities, you already have as an apparel decorator, the concept of an unboxing experience is likely not new. You’re already paying attention to the packaging you’re distributing your products in, and you’re already maintaining your branding across all of the little details. The insert, the stickers, the tissue paper — whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it with an eye on customer excitement.

    Here’s where you turn that up a notch. Create packaging, and create details, that are crafted around this referral marketing strategy. Let’s say you want your customers to snap pictures of their custom apparel and tag you on Instagram — great! Give them something wow-worthy to post. A box that has the posting instructions inscribed in glitter on the underside of its lid, on a background color of neon green. Fun stickers, boldly branded inserts, and, of course, a knockout final product.

    The more Instagrammable you make your packaging, the more Instagrammable you make the moments your customers will remember you by — and the more likely they’ll be to post about them. At the end of the day, it’s about the experience. So give it to them.
  • Highlight the Reel: This tip is bringing the focus back to you. If you’re getting tagged in all of these customer product posts, and you’re getting all of these new prospects — from your audience’s network — heading to your profile, what are you putting out there for them to see? Is your Instagram page filled with relevant, brand-specific posts and great community interaction? Is it barely populated with anything — and full of nonsense comments from bots?

    On social media, we’re constantly told that everyone is showing the ‘highlight reel’ of their lives; not great from a person-to-person perspective, but from a business-to-consumer perspective? It’s a must. Your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages — and every page on your site — need to be packed full of your A-game.

    That means intentionally curated posts that immediately convey who your brand is, what it does, and why it’s different. That means active social media management to ensure all messages coming in are responded to quickly and all spam (or otherwise strange) comments are getting deleted just as fast. That means putting out the face you want the world to see, and it means engaging with the people who are checking it out.

    Because well-maintained social media pages, in today’s day and age, prove the reputability of a brand. And if you’re reputable, your newly-reached prospects will have all the more reason to take that next step.

S&S Activewear’s Top 5 for Social

Bringing your A-game to social media, also means showing you’re on top of all the latest apparel and design trends. Whether you’re posting pictures of yourself, a new offer, giveaway, sample kit, or apparel line, we want to make sure that you’re showing off a wide range of products that people can’t get enough of. Here’s a list of 5 styles we’ve seen trending this year and will look great on your social media feed:

MV Sport – Women’s Striped Fleece Boxy Hooded Sweatshirt

Oversized sweatshirts are in, especially with the student crowd, and have been popping up in merch stores all over the web. Shop now →

Alternative – Women’s Vintage Jersey Headliner Crop Tee

Crop tops are a must-add for any collection, especially those that come in a trendy pattern like this one. Shop now →

BELLA + CANVAS – Jersey Curved Hem Tee 

Curved hems are growing in popularity now, because they turn a normal tee into a sleek fashion forward piece with a clean finish. Shop now →

Independent Trading Co. – Midweight Tie-Dyed Sweatshirt

Tie-Dyeing apparel became a popular arts and crafts project last year and the look keeps trending upwards. Show off those fun colors with a comfy sweatshirt and cap to match. Shop now →

Sportsman – Tie-Dyed Bucket Cap

100% cotton, tie-dyed bucket with sewn eyelets. This is the perfect compliment to the Independent Trading Co.Tie-Dyed Sweatshirt! Shop now →


Social Media Referral Marketing: The Wrap Up

That’s it. You did it. We told you: quick and easy.

You have the 5 steps you need for seamless implementation. You have the tips & tricks you need for strategic execution. Now all that’s left? Doing the work.

Planning your tactics. Creating the promo materials — whether an Instagram post or specifically decorated packaging. And shouting the opportunity from the rooftops for all to hear.

While this marketing strategy can’t get much easier, we thought we’d give you a bonus boost for getting started — so below, you’ll find a Marketing Kit full of all the goods. Email copy to send to your customers, promoting the tactic (in whatever form it takes). Social media captions to continue that promotion, making sure it comes across loud and clear.

We believe in this strategy, and we believe in you. So take it, make it your own, and then come back and let us know how it worked for you. We always love to hear your success stories.

And if you’re reading this and still not outfitted with the e-commerce capabilities your business needs to keep up in 2021, then now is the time to get serious about meeting our Online Stores platform. With industry-best features, smooth-as-can-be integrations, and overjoyed customers all around the continent, you don’t want to miss out any longer. Trust us. Take the tour now.


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