I was at a business/prayer meeting yesterday morning (yes, weird combination for some, but I roll with it), and I was thinking about how small business owners become clients, for businesses like yours.
Folks at this meeting were praying for their clients’ success and general welfare (something we do around here too), as well
as praying for the centers of influence around their business activities.
And I got to thinking: do YOU make pursuing centers of influence a part of your marketing strategy?
You see, business owners (as you know), we’re a funny lot. We like to work with people we trust. Now, that utilizing dynamic can be easily accomplished online, if you know what you’re doing (which, will be one of the short sub-topics of this month’s call). You can connect with influential referrers, and build trust with them by providing them with relational, authoritative advice … and establish that coveted “top-of-consciousness” relationship with them.
But there’s other ways to skin that cat, as well.
1) Gather a list of the key influences for business owners, in the course of their business activities. Who are these people? I’m sure you can create your own list, but try this on for size:
Commercial real-estate agents
Merchant account reps
Friendly “tax-only” practitioners in your market
Other B2B sales reps
2) Send them a friendly, personal, direct mail piece. What you communicate with this piece is up to you, but the critical component is this: Give them a low-risk way of getting to know you and your staff. This can be a catered lunch at your office, or an invitation to meet and share strategy.
Give them something they want — it might even be some sort of complimentary service you can provide them, just for the chance to meet them.
(Yes, it’s worth your time to cultivate these relationships.)
3) Do NOT push too hard for referrals at the first meeting. Simply see it as a chance to begin building that relationship of trust and mutual respect. After you’ve made that initial connection, THEN you follow-up with a friendly ask.
4) Don’t give up after a first try. These folks are busy (as are you). It helps to follow-up again, and again.
It all comes down to: “How much is a new business client worth to you?” Knowing the real answer to that question should determine your activities, and the relationships you should be pursuing in your local market area.
By the way, as I alluded to earlier: this process can (and should) be replicated online. The entire purpose of your online marketing strategy should be to build and cultivate profitable relationships, be they client prospects or possible rich veins of referrals. So this dictates how you set up your website, your social media strategy, and (especially) how you email your list (you ARE doing that, right??).
This might seem like “Networking 101” to you. If so, good. Keep at it. But if not, test it out — try me on this, and you won’t be sorry.
Talk again next week. Enjoy your weekend!