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One of the most powerful, but surprisingly underutilized, tools in the marketing tool box is the referral program according to Chris Moloney from Parogo Inc.. For generations, companies have witnessed the power of a satisfied customer’s referring products or services to someone they know.  However, most companies do not actively pursue referrals, thinking customer referrals is a phenomenon that occurs naturally, not one that can be encouraged.  

Other Industries:

Business author Frederick Reichheld believes the number of people who are willing to refer your product or service is the single most important customer metric in determining a businesses success.

Andy Taylor, the CEO of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, was quoted as saying, “The only way to grow a business is to get customers to come back for more and tell their friends”.  The MCI ‘Friends and Family’ program was one of the most successful referral programs in the history of marketing according to business author Arthur M Hughes.

A ‘hands-on’ approach to referrals can work for bingo halls just like its work for other companies.  To maximize the results from any referral program, it’s beneficial to offer an incentive to the referrer and a discount to the referred.  Remember to include an expiration date to call referrers to action by a date certain. See sample below.

A deeper understanding of the bingo player will aid in the design of a referral program that is right for any operation.  As we all know, in bingo, there is a progression that most bingo players go through:

1. Awareness of Bingo – Potential players may see an ad in the Newspaper, on TV, on a billboard or hear from a friend.  There are many ways a player may  hear about bingo and about your bingo hall.  They may have an old fashion notion of bingo…something like chips on a card, in an old smoky church, played by several old ladies to win $5.  Players with an old fashion notion of what bingo is will not be interested to play bingo until they see something or hear from a friend that changes this paradigm.  

2. First time players – First time players are often overwhelmed by the complication of the bingo game in the US and Canada.  A beginner’s bingo package is often appropriate for a new player.  Remember to give them something to entice them to come back…

3. Repeat player – Player has played before and has a good understanding of the process.

4. Winner (Advocate) – 5  -10% This player is still relatively new and is wide eyed at the buy-in window.  They know all the specials and feel very comfortable in your hall.  They love this game and your hall.  

5. Regular – 70% of the players in your hall are in this category.  The regular player has the front desk on speed dial.  They have a favorite seat and can not win unless they are sitting in that seat. They know the specials, the names of your staff and have several friends in the bingo hall.  Bingo is part of their everyday routine.

Capitalize on the Advocate Player:

According to business author Arthur M Hughes, capitalize on the brief phase of infatuation, before the winners become blasé regular players, by giving advocates something positive to promote the success of your bingo hall, to spread to others the joy and satisfaction that the winners feel.  The referral card shown is an example of a referral card that we used at in our bingo hall, with excellent results.


We mailed the referral card (at left) to all players who had won in the last month but had only been playing for 3 months.  The rest of the cards were available to any players who asked for them at the front desk. This process reduced the mail costs and made the ROI tracking much simpler using a much smaller number of players.


1. Winners had a tool to use to bring in their friends, family and the lady at the checkout counter at the grocery store, making them extremely happy to be able to share this ‘wonderful’ place.

2. New player membership cards went up by 10% on average with a surge during the first and last week of the promotion period.

3. Regular players often searched for new players who were already entering the building so that they could receive the offer.  We were happy to see this unforeseen consequence as we like to keep our regulars happy.  Regular players were asked to stay with the new player through the buy-in and seating process and to check on them throughout the session. Many new players ended up sitting with the regular players which increased the value of the session to the new player.

4. New players who did not sit with the regular players during the session were impressed with the friendliness of the players…not understanding that the regulars were receiving an offer for bringing in new players.

This is a good opportunity for you to share results and suggestions from your referral program so that other bingo halls across the country can benefit. Submitted comments will be posted.

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