This Referral Program SAXX...
If your employer handed you a paycheck and said, "Here's the money you earned last week, but spend it in the next thirty days or it comes back to the company", how would you react?
That would be ridiculous, right?
You did the work that was required of you in exchange for your compensation, so you earned it and it's yours. And because it's yours, you should be able to spend it whenever you like, not before some arbitrary deadline set by your employer.
Hold that thought.
The other day I shared a referral code for SAXX underwear, a brand I discovered several years ago and now like more than any normal person should like a brand of underwear.
As a consumer, I'm generally a fan of referral programs when they're executed well. If I genuinely like a product, it's natural for me to want to tell my friends about it. I'll happily advocate for a favourite brand on social media for free, but if I can make someone else happy and earn myself a reward at the same time, well, why not do that?
As a marketer, I understand the benefits of a referral program. Acquiring new customers is critical for any business, but doing so at scale can be difficult and expensive. So if you can implement an effective way for your most vocal brand advocates to sign-up new members and make new sales on your behalf in exchange for a discount on their next purchase, well, why not do that?
What I don't understand, as either a consumer or a marketer, is why a referral program would send you a discount for a successful referral that expires after a very limited time.
It would be bad enough if the expiration of the discount code was clearly noted on the referral page.
But in this case, it wasn't.
You only find out about that particular piece of fine print after you've already made a successful referral and SAXX has emailed you the discount code you were promised.
Now let's get back to that ridiculous paycheck scenario.
A referral program isn't the same thing as a job, but they both work the same way: a company pays you to do something that contributes to the growth of their business.
And once pay is earned, it shouldn't expire.
In fact, it's self-defeating for a referral program to limit the rewards earned by brand advocates who generate new customers for the company, especially when that happens in the fine print after the fact.
Fooling your customers into doing something for you is never a good idea. But fooling the customers who are most willing to help you succeed?
That's just plain stupid.
I purchased several new pairs of SAXX last week, so I likely won't buy any more within the next 30 days.
That means my 15% discount code is going to be wasted...
... just like the goodwill the company could have earned by providing me with a "no-expiry" reward I could actually use the next time I was ready to buy more.
Referral programs can be incredible ways to engage your most passionate fans and enable them to help you grow your business.
Just don't design one that SAXX.