Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

What Do You Know About Networking?

Inspired by Mistake No. 20 from The Termite Effect.

Last year I taught an undergraduate small business management course at a local college. During our discussion on marketing, I innocently posed the following question, “What do you guys know about networking?” One of my students looked at me with a straight face and said, “You mean like networking computers?”

What do YOU know about networking? Is it part of your overall marketing plan or are you more like my students?

I think it is safe to say that the Holy Grail for any entrepreneur is to have 100% of their business coming from existing customers and referrals. I previously wrote about dealing with existing customer here and here so let’s take a few moments to look at how effective networking can help lead you to those precious word-of-mouth referrals.

#1 – It is said that the average person knows 250-300 people. Stop and consider this: you are two introductions away from 60,000-90,000 people. What do you think of networking now?

#2 – Think of networking as running for office. Instead of securing votes, you are securing relationships. Just like a politician running for office, you, as the owner of a business, are always on stage, always networking, always building relationships, always building your network.

#3 – Effective networking requires that you have a servant’s heart. You must be genuinely interested in helping other people in your network without immediately getting anything in return.

#4 – People do business with people they like but they do more with people they trust. Effective networking helps move people from “Like” to “Trust”.

#5 – Effective networking requires attributes that, quite frankly, most people do not possess – diligence, persistence, consistency and discipline.


All Leads Are Not Created Equally – Part II

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake #9 from The Termite Effect:

Click here to watch the video post about Mistake #9.

Hopefully I have convinced you that developing a referral-based business is a worthwhile exercise. Below is a brief discussion of how to accomplish that.

#1 – Become a Master Networker (Click here for a previous blog post about Effective Networking) 

  • Listen to your prospect. Focus on them – – NOT yourself. Ask questions. Remember, the more someone talks, the more they like you.
  • Learn about your prospect. What do they do and what do they need? Who is an ideal client or prospect for them? What makes them unique?
  • Help your prospects by connecting them to people, businesses, groups, organizations who will, in turn, help them achieve their goals. Follow Business Network International’s motto, “Giver’s Gain”. Have a servant’s heart. DO NOT ONLY BE A TAKER. You must be a GIVER before you should expect to receive. Take care of your referral partners and they will take care of you.

#2 – Build a network of referral partners who understand your target market so they can send you referrals. Define your target market as narrowly as possible. The reason you do this is because it helps your referral sources focus on who would be a good referral for you. When asked, “who would be a good referral for you?”, DO NOT say, “Anyone who . . .” You want to be very specific. For example:

  • “I am looking for an introduction to someone who owns and operates a florist shop” instead of “Anyone who owns their own business”.
  • “I am looking for a referral to a successful real estate agent in this area” instead of “I am looking for people in sales”.

#3 – Receive referrals. I know, I know! Receiving referrals is at the end of the process. Don’t forget that building a referral-based business is a long-term marketing strategy. You must augment it with short-term strategies such as traditional advertising, special offers, cold calling, direct mail, Internet, strategic alliances, etc.  |

First Impressions

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake #15 from The Termite Effect:

What are the odds that your online presence will be the first impression a prospect has of you or your business? 25%? 50% 80%. Whether it is your website, your LinkedIn profile, your blog or your Facebook page, odds are high that first impressions come in the electronic variety.

When I spoke to clients about the internet in the past, often our discussions centered around why they did not have a website. It usually ended with me pleading with them to get one. Today my focus tends to be on helping my clients develop a robust, wholistic internet marketing strategy, which includes social media.

What impression does your website make? Is it amateuristic or professional. If it leans toward the former with misspellings, no clear theme and a lack of a coherent message, you risk public perception that your company is equally misguided and directionless.

What about your social media presence? Do you have a profile on LinkedIn? If so, is it complete? Do you have something of value to share with the world via Twitter or Facebook. If yes, are you consistent in your posting? Are you relevant and value-oriented or are you telling people where you ate dinner last night? Don’t get me wrong, your personal contacts may be interested in your weekend jaunt to the beach but your current and future business associates do not want to hear about your kid’s triumph on the soccer field.

In the book, I offer several solutions to this mistake. One of the remedies that I suggest is to surf your competitors’ websites, follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn, subscribe to their blogs, and “Like” their company’s Facebook page. What image do they project? What are they saying? How are they conveying their marketing message? Do not limit yourself to your local competitors. Find companies in a different market that provides the same or similar products or services as you do and learn from them.

One final thought: If you are one of those people who are resisting the move to social media, I encourage you to rethink your position. If you want a primer on business social media, I recommend Jeffrey Gittomer’s Social Boom.  |

How to Differentiate from the Competition

Excerpt from Mistake #6 in The Termite Effect:

Why should someone buy from you instead of one of your competitors? Take a minute to answer that question.

Most people struggle to come up with a coherent answer. Oftentimes, those who do come up with an answer use empty or hollow words to describe their business – “We offer quality!”, “We offer customer service!”, “We offer quality customer service!” Doesn’t every business offer these things? Aren’t you really telling your prospects that you are the same as every other service provider?

Unless you are Wal-Mart or some other Big Box Store, the following response always sends shivers down my spine – “We have the lowest prices in town!”. My immediate reaction is, “you probably will not be in business for long if that is your main differentiator”.

What to do?

  1. Rediscover or discover for the first time your uniqueness. Look at your business differently. What makes you different? If you cannot answer that question, ask your customers, “why did you buy from us or hire us?”.
  2. At the most basic level, what problem(s) do you solve for your customers? If you can answer that question, you just might be able to pin-point why someone should buy from you.
  3. Don’t sell features; don’t sell benefits; sell overt benefits (See Jumpstart Your Business Brain by Doug Hall for details). Suffice it to say be bold and memorable in your descriptions of your products or services.
  4. Build credibility through longevity in business, testimonials and guarantees.
  5. Look at the numerous, more traditional ways to differentiate – price, service levels, demographics served, broad versus niche, ease of use and/or location.

Go on a quest to answer the question: Why should someone buy from you instead of your competitors?

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