How many of you are
in a business you love and want to stay in that business?
Business viability is the key word here and most of us, if
not all of us, are selling something. It may be a service, a product, a
housing option, or a caregiving experience. One thing that I have
learned as I work at expanding my coaching, counseling and training
business, is that if I don't stay on top of a strict marketing
strategy, I eventually lose track of potential business that might have
come my way had I followed up on a discussion, a chance meeting and a
In the end, it
all comes down to effective contact management, a concept that requires
effort, focus and creativity.
We all should
know that good intentions are not enough to make a business grow. Good
intentions with a clear strategy to stay in front and
available to our colleagues who can become clients or client referrers
is the name of the game. So, what does one do to keep on top of the
multitude of conversations and meetings we have over the course of the
Allow me to burst a bubble. We cannot expect our service to
pop magically into the head of a potential consumer when we are needed,
especially if we wait patiently for them to remember us. What does
happen is the following -- and think this through with me:
Let's say you
desperately need a widget. A certain type of widget. The options that
pop into your head come from "somewhere." They come from contacts you
have had that related to widgets, maybe a giant store that sells things
LIKE widgets, or a neighbor who was telling you about his widget, or a
business card you saw for widget repairs. Each of these cues came about
because you had contact with this subject on one or more occasions.
Marketing gurus tell us that you have to be in front of a
prospective buyer at least seven times before your service will
pop into their head when the need arises. So staying in front of our
potential referrals (or better, our best referral sources) is key to
keeping our product fresh in the potential customer's mind.
annual 12-point strategy with each contact might include, a note, a
call, a newsletter, a referral, a holiday gift, a visit, an invitation
for lunch and a meeting about something you have in common with this
contact. This is a great place to get creative!
We get a bigger bang for the buck if we do this with entities
that can be ongoing referral sources because they, if they are
successful and grow their own business, will continue to seek resources
like yours for their clients.
But staying in
front of them is not enough. We need a systematic strategy that ensures
that each contact we have with them leads to another ?touch.? Is it a
phone call and subsequent fax with the information you promised to get
them? Or a thank you note with an article that you published on a
subject you discussed during lunch? How about referring your clients to
them, which establishes a reciprocal relationship?
What do you think about a system that guarantees a return?
One well known marketing specialist uses a "100% refund strategy." With
every customer he serves, he gives them four business cards. If he
receives four referrals from them, he returns their payment for his
service in full. That is a 25% return on their investment with you when
they send a referral that turns into a client to you!
I gulped the
first time I heard it too. But think for a minute. This expands your
referral network and motivates your client to find other referrals for
you. A 25% refund per referral is a benefit you pass on to the next
layer of referrals. This is a strategy that salespeople use and could
be useful in our industry as well, This is an enticement to use our
service more because of our client's motivation to find referrals and
educe their payment to you while at the same time referring you clients
they feel you can help. And you gain more revenue. Everyone wins.
How about finding two interested parties who have
complimentary businesses but are not in competition with one another?
You plan a workshop that is of interest to all of your combined
clients, and each of you invites 25 to this workshop. What you have
done, in addition to offering a quality workshop, is expand contact
with 50 new prospective clients that you had previously not reached,
all as a result of the partners' invitations.
The ideas can go on
and on, some of them more sales related, others more marketing driven.
But either way, we are reinforcing our customer base with repeat
service contacts, sending them free information, offering to link them
with other services, as well as growing our own referral base.
Partnerships in this endeavor can bring greater impact to our and our
partner's businesses and as a result, the future viability of a
business we love is strengthened.