I love being a megaphone – amplifying the reach of excellent services which more people should know about.
But what difference would it make if I were getting paid for doing this?
And what difference would it make if you were getting paid for spreading the word about me?
Earlier this year, I tentatively started a referral reward system. I invited a few dozen people who were already spreading the word about my work to register as referrers so that they could receive gratitude payments: 10% of whatever their friend or colleague paid me.
The intention was to shower these people with appreciation. They were helping my business grow and it felt like they deserved to share in my profits.
Some people were delighted by the idea and registered straight away. Others said they weren’t comfortable receiving the 10% themselves but registered in the name of their favourite charity or organization.
And others said they didn’t want any money, that the good karma of spreading the word was enough. Some even said they hated the idea of getting paid, that it made them feel ‘icky’.
This, of course, got me thinking. Was the ‘ickiness’ because giving feels good but receiving can feel uncomfortable? And if this were the case, should I be taking a stand and insisting that it’s okay for good people to receive money?
Or was there more to consider, in terms of what happens when we add the money dynamic in with word-of-mouth referrals?
I became hesitant about rolling the system out more widely until I got clear on my position.
I’m clear that I’m unclear
I’m passionate that money should flow towards those who do good. But should that just apply when the person is offering a paid-for service like coaching, acupuncture or yoga? Or could spreading the word count as ‘doing good’ and you could be financially thanked for that?
Should saying nice things about a service be ‘pure’, with no money motive? But that suggests that money makes things dirty, which I don’t believe. And there’s a delicate but important distinction between paying someone for spreading the word, rather than to spread the word.
One way of keeping it clean is to insist upon transparency: that when the referrer mentions me, they fully disclose that they receive these gratitude payments. But that doesn’t change the fact that we believe a friend’s recommendation of a service because they have no agenda other than to help us, as opposed to a salesperson on a commission. Does knowing money is involved skew the trustworthiness of an endorsement?
I have lots of questions so I decided: what better than to open the discussion up to you? Maybe you heard about my work via a recommendation or perhaps you’re already out there, spreading the word about me (thank you!). Maybe you’re an affiliate for other services or perhaps you’ve considered this minefield in relation to promoting your own business.
So, what do you think?
What system could I put in place for encouraging people to spread the word about my services and thanking them for doing so? It has to feel good for me, for the people referring and for the people hearing about me.
And, moreover, what kind of system could you have, as you expand the reach of your own business and acknowledge your ‘megaphone’ people?
It’s a rich topic for discussion – so leave a comment below, let us know…
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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes, 2011