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How to set up referral programs for your tattoo studio


In the tattoo industry, where personal expression and trust are paramount, a referral from a satisfied customer is worth its weight in ink. Establishing a referral program for your tattoo studio isn't just about increasing foot traffic; it's about building a community of clients who appreciate your art and ethos.

So, here's a step-by-step guide to creating customer referral programs that resonate with your clientele and amplify your studio's reputation.

Outline your goals

Before launching your customer referral program, you must outline what you hope to achieve. Is your aim to increase the number of clients, elevate your brand presence, or enhance the loyalty of existing customers?

By establishing clear and measurable goals, you provide a direction and a means to measure the program's success. Think about who your target audience is and what kind of new clients you want to attract to ensure that your program aligns with your business's ethos and aesthetic.


three people looking a laptop


Determine the incentives

The next step is to determine what will incentivise your customers to refer others. Incentives are the cornerstone of successful customer referral programs. So, the rewards should be enticing enough to motivate your current clients and economically viable for your business. It could be discounts, free items, or exclusive experiences.

Make sure these incentives or referral rewards are desirable to your clients and that they understand what they're getting in return for their referral. It’s crucial to strike a balance where both the referrer and the referred feel they are gaining something of value.

Simplify the referral process

A complex process can deter clients from participating in your referral program. To encourage engagement, the process should be as simple as possible. Your customer referral program ideas, whether clients are referring friends verbally, with cards, or through an online system, there should be minimal steps involved.

Ensure that the way to refer someone is straightforward and that the instructions for claiming the rewards are clear. The easier it is for your clients to refer others, the more likely they will do it.

Promote your program

If nobody knows about your referral program, they can't participate. Promotion is key. Make sure every customer who leaves your studio is aware of the program. Use in-studio signage, promote the program on social media platforms, through email marketing, and on your website.

The more channels you use to promote your referral program, the more your clients will be reminded to participate. Regular promotion not only reminds existing clients but can also attract new clients who hear about the program through various marketing efforts.


meeting of people for referral program


Enable easy tracking

For a referral program to be sustainable, you need to be able to track its success and ensure it's bringing in valuable clients. Use a unique referral link or a referral program software that integrates with your scheduling system to track successful referrals.

This allows you to see which clients are referring the most new business and ensures that they are rewarded appropriately. By keeping track of the program's performance, you can make necessary adjustments to keep it cost-effective and rewarding for all parties involved.

Provide a stellar first impression

The initial experience of a referred client is critical in setting the tone for their relationship with your studio. A first impression goes a long way and can determine whether a new client will return or further refer your services. To achieve this, the studio environment should be welcoming and professional, the staff friendly and informative, and the service impeccable.

Additionally, having a streamlined onboarding process for new clients that makes booking, consultation, and the actual tattooing experience seamless will leave a lasting positive impression.

Express gratitude

Gratitude is the cornerstone of any successful referral program. It’s essential to acknowledge and thank both the referrer and the referred client. This can be done in person, through a thank-you note, or with a follow-up message.

Showing appreciation not only solidifies your relationship with existing clients but also conveys a warm, personal touch to new clients. Such gestures reinforce the community feel of your business and encourage continued engagement with the program.

Keep the program fresh

To maintain interest and keep clients referring, it's vital to keep your referral program dynamic. This could mean rotating the incentives offered, introducing limited-time offers, or creating seasonal campaigns that re-engage clients.

By refreshing your program, you prevent it from becoming stale and keep clients curious about what’s new. It also gives you a reason to communicate regularly with your client base, keeping the studio top-of-mind. You can look for solid referral program examples online.

Legal and ethical considerations

It's important to design your referral program with legal and ethical considerations in mind. Ensure that you're not infringing on any privacy laws when sharing client testimonials or photos, especially considering the personal nature of tattoos.

Clients should give explicit permission for their images or stories to be used in promotional materials. Furthermore, make sure the terms of the program are clear and transparent, avoiding any form of misleading information that could damage your studio’s reputation.

Celebrate success

When your referral marketing program yields positive results, celebrate those successes. This could mean showcasing the number of customer referrals on social media, sharing success stories, or even holding appreciation events for top referrers.

Celebrating these milestones not only reinforces the program's value to your clients but also serves as a testimonial to the quality of your service. Public recognition of the program’s success can motivate other clients to participate and shows your studio’s commitment to and appreciation for its community.


three people happily talking to each other



Setting up a client referral program is an excellent strategy for growing your tattoo studio's business and building a dedicated customer base. With thoughtful referral incentives, an easy referral process, effective marketing, and a willingness to adapt, your own referral program can become a significant asset to your studio's growth.

As you harness the power of word-of-mouth, make sure your advocates have the best aftercare to keep their tattoos vibrant and healthy. Introduce them to the "Tattoo Goo Tattoo Care Kit (3 in 1)"—where each kit includes Tattoo Goo Lotion, Tattoo Goo Soap, and Tattoo Goo Balm. It’s a small token of appreciation that can make a big impact on both healing and satisfaction. Let your clients become your most vocal advocates, not just through their referrals, but through the glowing reviews of their well-healed tattoos.


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  • Mark Joshua Luz