A B2B referral program will be a highly successful as a source of new business if you promote it with success in mind.

Marketers generally like acronyms, so in the interest of the K.I.S.S. principle, I offer my fellow marketers an acronym to emphasize the key principles of referral program promotion:

S marketing

P ainless

I nnovate often

C reate trust

E mpower your advocates



Smarketing is a cool term that denotes the mutually beneficial and strategic alignment of sales and marketing teams.

Make it your top priority to involve sales at every point in your planning from concept to benefits to how the program is promoted and optimized.

A successful B2B referral program is dependent on smarketing to bring home the ROI, so the more you work with and prove the benefits of your program to your sales team, the more successful and visible your program will be.



A basic marketing principle, keeping your program simple and painless from registration to making referrals to earning rewards will ensure that your advocates stay engaged, excited and empowered.



You’ve geared up for a killer program launch and taken every step to drive your customer or partner advocates to refer and refer often. And it works! You’re a marketing star! Everyone is lavishing praise on you and your team and asking how they can create their very own referral program thanks to your super powered marketing ingenuity!

Don’t get too comfortable, Mister and Missus Marketer.

Just like you wouldn’t run the same TV spot for years on end, you can’t just let your referral program go. It’s like any other marketing or promotional best practice: keep it fresh and innovate often. Change it up. Offer a “double your rewards” promotion. Spice up the creative. Stay on your toes!



A referral program requires the same marketing discipline as any other strategic initiative. We mentioned that a lack of planning for your referral program can result in a flop.

The same goes for creating trust with your advocates and the prospects they refer to you; if you fail to create it, your program won’t work.  We’ve seen it happen and we don’t want it to happen to you.

But you can still easily lose all that hard-earned trust if you:


  • Try to run your referral program manually, which more often than not, leads to missed or dropped referrals, forgotten rewards, or a lack of appreciation for every advocate’s referral and closed deal that results from that referral.


  • Make the program clunky, cumbersome, difficult-to-understand or too much work to implement.



There are numerous ways to empower your advocates but the three most important are:


  1. Give your advocates many ways to refer – email, social, printed cards, SMS, and any other way they communicate with your brand.


  1. Offer advocates a pre-written suggestion for social sharing, but also allow them to change your suggestion and personalize it.


  1. Make registering for the program as quick and easy as possible so that they can advocate for you without too much effort.


Remember that a B2B referral program can easily become your demand-gen bread and butter. Your bacon when you bring home the bacon. Your referral program will take the cake. But when you’re shakin’ and bakin’ up your program, don’t forget the SPICE!

What is brand advocacy?