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As any freelancer or small business person knows, the best kind of advertising is often word of mouth. There's nothing better than a satisfied client - excited about the completion of a job well done - sharing your contact details with a friend or colleague.

We've all done it - asked friends on and off line; 'Does anyone know any good photographers?' or 'Can anyone recommend a web designer? I need new website and not sure who I can trust'.

As a business person, a personal endorsement means you can hit the ground running. There's no need to do the hard sell (which is never much fun for either party) - you can talk through your best projects or portfolio, knowing the groundwork has already been laid.

But just because personal recommendations take place between people you've never met, doesn't mean there's nothing you can do to help the conversation along. In this current climate there's no point leaving things to chance, especially when it's so easy to get the conversation started.

These cute little packages were made by Cardiff based photographer Sarah Thomas. By dividing a pack of MiniCards into groups of ten, she was able to create ten unique 'recommend a friend' sets with photographs personal to each client. Adding simple, but (cost) effective packaging creates something really special - and worth talking about. It would be a hard heart that receives these cards and doesn't rush to share them with friends.

Sarah used a template for her cards, originally designed by children's photographer, Dawn M. Available for free, the template works with Photoshop, and can be downloaded here. There are several different variations, and it can easily be customised with your own colours and text.

In a very different style,Rayna, an Oregon based photographer, created these smart referral cards. Taking full advantage of the variable Postcard options, she created two cards per client, with a traditional postcard layout on the reverse. Recipients can post these to friends, and each card entitles the bearer to a free print, following a session with Sapphire Rain Photography. Super-smart, again you know these will be talked about and shared among friends.

On a completely different tack, we love the idea of this, from Brighton based web & social media agency, Nixon McInnes. At the end of each project, they send each client a pack of MiniCards featuring images of their newly launched site. On the reverse are the site's details, so they have not only a little gift, but an instant way to promote their new venture. Again, another way to get clients talking - and what better way to promote yourselves, create good feeling AND promote your work at the same time.

And what about you? Are you using referral cards? We'd love to see them and hear your stories.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
28th Jul, 2009 12:22 (UTC)
Great ideas!
28th Jul, 2009 18:25 (UTC)
I just realized that I should have cards for my tattoo blog. A lot of people have admired my ink lately and I feel dumb that I hadn't thought of having cards I could hand out to steer them to my blog.

Guess I better get busy and design something, hmm?
29th Jul, 2009 11:32 (UTC)
You should - because I've just found your tattoo blog and it's fascinating! I didn't know some people had reactions to different inks. Glad the red has healed now.
29th Jul, 2009 17:16 (UTC)
Thank you for reading my blog!

I ordered mini-cards and a case for them yesterday, so I can keep that in my pocket at all times and hand out the beautiful fractal-design cards.

One suggestion? If people are only putting a few lines on the back of a mini-card, could we have a choice of a larger font?
30th Jul, 2009 09:40 (UTC)
There's been a lot of discussion about the font sizes on MiniCards in the office actually. We have got some plans underway, but I can't tell you what they are right now. Having said that, we are listening to people's comments - and we do appreciate them. Thank you :)

Hope you love your cards!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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