lead generation

Lead generation strategies are all around you!

When we meet with a new client, we get them to fill out a questionnaire which asks them what their major concerns are in their business. What is the most common answer, you ask? Not getting enough traffic ‘in the door’. Unfortunately, one of the common reasons that 8/10 small businesses fail is their lack of strong lead generation strategies. Almost every business owner we speak with is looking for more new leads. And there’s a good reason for this: the bigger your list of leads, the more opportunities there are to convert into sales for your business.

So how long does your search party for more leads need to go for? You will be pleased with what I tell you next… you can call it off! Our clients are always left gobsmacked once they realise the simplicity of increasing the number of leads in their business.

Now, there are roughly 84 different lead generation strategies, but if you start with these four you will most definitely be able to generate enough leads to keep your business growing.

Referrals 

Being absolutely free of charge whilst providing amazing results, referrals from existing customers is a strategy not to miss. Every existing customer is a walking, talking testimonial! And considering that in today’s world, one of the major factors that deter or encourage someone to buy from you are the reviews that are shared face to face or written online, having your customers share a positive review of your business is imperative to generate more leads. An easy way to do this is by making a habit of collecting testimonials and reviews and using them on your website and other marketing materials. This is a great investment in the future of your business, because repeat customers mean repeat business – so this lead generation strategy has an exponential effect. 

Strong Online Presence

Over the past decade, there has been a noticeable shift in buyer behaviour with our access to the internet becoming much more efficient and reliable. These days, 60% of the buying decision is made before someone will pick up the phone and speak with a sales person. If you have a strong online presence, you will consistently find new customers at a higher rate than your competitors who don’t.

Understand Target Marketing & Customer Acquisition Costs 

Do you look at your marketing as an expense or an investment? Good marketing which gains new customers is most definitely an investment. With that mindset, you will be able to develop a more targeted marketing plan, allowing you to market specifically to your niche. This brings good customers to any business far more effectively than broad-based marketing. Test and measure different strategies then invest the money to “buy” more customers at an acceptable acquisition cost.

Using Strategic Alliances

Need a new database of your target market? Why not exchange yours with another business?! One of the greatest resources for generating leads for your business is other businesses. A strategic alliance allows you to sell your product/service to your target market, by using a database from another business that sells a different product/service. Make connections, and find new customers!

Start by making small improvements in the 4 lead generating strategies above and you will notice a dramatic difference in your sales funnel.  Keep developing these tools and you are sure to generate enough leads to get your business soaring!

If you want to generate more leads in your business, let us teach you more strategies that are just right for your business. Click here or call us on 9146 4439 to organise a coffee with one of our coaches!

Now that you have a clear idea of where to start with your lead generation, I want to share with you a few helpful strategies on how to convert these leads into clients. But I will leave that for my next blog. For now…

“…You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is”

marketing plan

Get your marketing plan into shape with these 5 easy strategies!

Have you ever felt like your marketing activities just aren’t generating enough profits for your business, so you just give up on them? Or do you pause your marketing plan in order to save more money? Well consider this…

…If you put an end to your marketing plan, will you really save money? Yes, you will… in the way that stopping your wristwatch saves time. In other words, don’t kid yourself.

A marketing plan needs to be clear, simple, and most of all, consistent. Then you have to actually stick to it and, rather than halting its use, update it and make it better. If you let it go after 3 months of not seeing any results, you are guaranteeing that you’ll never see results.

Most business owners think that you must be a marketing guru to generate and implement a strong and profitable marketing plan. Well this should be music to your ears… there are only 5 key areas of marketing and sales that you need to focus on to build your business!

Over the next few months, I will cover each key area in detail. Here is a summary to start your journey to becoming your own marketing guru:

Number of leads – This area is all about how many potential clients you attract. Unfortunately, being unable to generate leads is one of the main reasons that so many small businesses fail in the first few years. The lead generating strategies we will teach you are both simple and mind-blowingly effective.

Conversion rate – Now that you are generating enough leads, how many of them do you convert into clients? Many business owners ‘wing’ the sales process and hope for the best. If that’s you, how is that going for your business? Having a detailed sales strategy will not only improve your conversion rate, but make it much more reliable.

Number of transactions – How many times a year do your clients buy from you? Increase this frequency by devising the ways you can encourage past clients to buy from your more often. Think about this… your existing customers already like what you do, which makes it about six times easier and cheaper to get a past customer to buy again than to acquire a new one! Get brainstorming!

Average dollar sale – How much do clients spend with you each time they buy? Imagine what would happen if you increased the value of each sale by 10%. That’s not a big jump, but it makes a big difference. By executing only one well-implemented price increase strategy, you could make a big difference to the bottom line.

Margins – What is the gross or net margin your business achieves? Improving your margin is one of the quickest way to improve your cash flow. Our clients are often left shocked when they learn that this, the easiest part of a marketing and sales plan, is the fastest and least costly to implement and will have the most immediate impact.

If you are thinking ‘this is too much to work on right now’, remember that all you need is a slight 15% improvement in each area, and that will be sufficient to double your profit! These 5 areas provide you with more than 350 different strategies to explore. All that’s left for you to do is to select the ones that are right for you, implement them effectively, and watch your business soar.

If you feel like you are investing in expensive marketing; that being, marketing which you do not receive a profit from, and just aren’t seeing the return, join one of our coaches for a coffee to discuss the ways in which we can help you.

Can you afford any more expensive marketing? Register here or call us today on (02) 9146 4439.

In my next blog, I will dive deeper into Lead generation and share with you my favourite strategies which will help you increase the number of quality leads attracted by your business. Till then, here’s a thought to take with you…

“…Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans”

lead generation

It’s never too late to increase your lead generation!

Okay, so we’re three months into the year and how are things looking for your business? Are you doing as well as you’d hoped or could it be better? As we all know, action speaks louder than words and it’s never too late to plan for a successful 2017, especially when you look at implementing lead generation strategies that work for your business.

The first thing you need to do is think about your lead-generating strategies in 2016.  Did they measure up to your business plan and expectations? If you were less than delighted with the results, what’s your game plan to improve on that? It’s an important question that’s linked to the success of your business.

Bottom line: what are the methods you use to generate leads and are they working for you? For example, if you’re not looking at your existing customers as the first port of call to generate leads, this is something you seriously need to re-evaluate. Use your current customers as “crusaders” for your business, and you’ll very much be on the right track. If they like your business, it’s human nature that they will want to pass on their recommendations and experiences by word-of-mouth to their family, friends, acquaintances and so on. Be sure to prompt them with appropriate questions or promotions so that is activity is maximised.

So what’s the best way to implement lead generation strategies that work for your business? Customer service counts for a lot. Do your staff know what to say to your customers and how to say it? Do they know how to talk about your business? This can be an extremely valuable method of lead generation.

Its also vitally important for businesses to understand that you don’t just get customers, you buy them. When you have that mindset, you can begin to understand just what you need to spend on your marketing. What can you afford to spend (in marketing activities) to buy a customer? Now go and spend that amount as often as possible in ways that generate them!

Similarly, it’s critical to have an online presence for lead generation. Having this, and especially a presence on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, is a great way to market to potential customers without the concerns of outrageous costs while creating the buzz every business needs to thrive.

One of the greatest resources for generating leads for your business is other businesses. Working in harmony with other organisations that sell to the same group you target as customers, but sell a different product, can be incredibly beneficial to all parties, including the customer.

As you can see, actions really do speak louder than words and there are countless ways to implement lead generation strategies that work for your business; in fact, there are more than 80!

To set up the right lead generation and sales and marketing strategies for your business, speak with one of our coaches here or call us on 02 9146 4439.

lead-generation-strategies

What lead generation strategies will you be implementing for 2017?

We all want our businesses to grow and prosper.  Assuming that’s true for you, how were your lead-generating strategies this year?  Did they measure up to your business plan and expectations? If not, what lead generation strategies will you be implementing in 2017 to improve on that?

It’s a question you need to ask as it’s closely linked to small business success – or failure – and that’s often because the processes that have been put in place aren’t what’s needed. With each and every customer incredibly valuable to your business, you need to be clear on the best methods to generate leads.

 

So who are the best people to generate new leads for you? Sometimes we can’t see the woods for the trees: it’s your existing customers!  If you can turn your top customers into enthusiastic ambassadors of your business you have gone a long way to ensure the long-term viability of your company. Why? When one of your customers just loves your company, what are they likely to do? They will tell friends, who will tell their friends, who will tell their friends and so on.

 

How do you make sure your top customers are referring your business to their friends?

 

First, start with outstanding customer service. Train your team to know exactly what to say to customers and how to say it. In recent polls, customer service has been found to be the most important reason customers choose businesses, but also the most lacking category for businesses themselves. Too many businesses don’t concentrate on customer service, instead focusing on discounts.

 

Then, be sure to give your customers the ammunition they need to talk about you properly.  Do they understand who you’re looking for?  Do they know how to talk about your business?  Do they have “the story to tell”???

 

Another area to consider when planning your lead generation strategies for 2017 is your targeting and your customer acquisition costs?  It is vitally important for businesses to understand that you don’t just get customers, you buy them. When you have that mindset, you can begin to understand just what you need to spend on your marketing. And when you know what those costs are you can start measuring what works and what doesn’t from a return on investment perspective.  If it costs your business $5 to obtain a client and your product is only worth $4 per unit, then that would not be a great way to go about it. If it costs you $5 to obtain a client and your product will make you $100 then that would probably be a better return on investment.

 

Furthermore, for small businesses, in today’s world, it is important to have an online presence for lead generation. Having this, and especially a presence on social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, is a great way to market to potential customers without the concerns of outrageous costs while creating the buzz every business needs to thrive.

 

One of the greatest resources for generating leads for your business is other businesses.  Working in strategic alliances with other organisations that sell to the same group you target as customers, but sell a different product, can be incredibly beneficial to all parties, including the customer.

 

If sales and marketing is not your strength, check out this eBook to help you determine a few more lead generation strategies for 2017. Alternatively you can speak with one of our business coaches who have helped many businesses start the New Year off on the right foot with the right business plan.

4 Steps to generate sales leads that will multiply your business

Even if your business has an outstanding service or in-demand product; without new sales leads, there is a good chance that your business success will be short term. So how do you future-proof your business? The answer lies in the ability to consistently find, develop and cultivate new sales leads, so they actualise into sales for your business.

There are many time-consuming and costly ways to generate new sales leads. We’ve seen all the mistakes that businesses make time and time again which stop them from thriving. Let’s take a look at how businesses are doing it well, so we can help your business gain quality sales leads.

Step 1 –Ensure that your Customer service delivers “WOW!”

Too many businesses forget about customer service, instead focusing on discounts and incentives to generate sales leads that end up costing them in the long run. If you concentrate on the way each customer feels after they’ve done business with you and that’s its now just positive for them but makes them think “wow!”, you will see more repeat business and they’ll start talking about you with others. Sound simple? It’s a simple concept, but you need to take a good hard look at internal processes to improve customer service. For example, look at the telephone and email scripts that your sales staff use, and see where the customer experience could be enhanced. Re-write the scripts or rules if needed… it could be the most valuable hour you’ll ever spend on your business!

Step 2 –Create referrals and make the most of your customers

Your Number 1 source of new leads is right under your nose… it’s your existing customers! No doubt if you have managed to get repeat business from one or more customers, they will have something great to say about your business.  Ask them who else they know that is in a similar position or has similar needs to them?  Would they be willing to introduce you?  Be proactive about asking for referrals!

Also be diligent to collect positive experiences from these customers as you go. When you’re ready, you can use these words or stories as content to help generate sales leads.Did you know that people trust their peers more than they trust brand advertising? Research shows that more than 8-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn’t confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online—the third-most-trusted format. (Nielsen Poll 2015).

Your referral resources don’t have to be strictly word of mouth. Consumer reviews, testimonials, online ratings and social media following will all help boost the chances of a cold sales lead developing trust in your business without even seeing any paid advertising.

If you can turn your top customers into raving fans of your business you have gone a long way to ensure the long term viability of your business. For more great tips on impactful sales and marketing techniques, download our eBook.

Step 3 – Understand your customer acquisition costs

Do you look at your marketing as an expense or an investment? It is vital for businesses to understand that you don’t just get customers, you buy them. When you have that mind-set, you can begin to understand just what you need to spend on your marketing to generate new leads.

One of the cheapest ways to buy customers is through social media, and probably the most expensive is traditional major media advertising like television or radio. But you don’t necessarily just go with the cheaper option. First, find out what will work to attract your ideal customer. If television advertising costs $5,000 for 30 seconds, but it brings you 500 customers who spend an average of $100 each, that media could be a great investment for your business. Ask the person responsible for selling you the media spot (online, event, TV, radio etc.) to help you to determine what sales lead outcomes you are likely to generate. Of course you know your business best, so trust your judgement as well as their advice.  Then be sure to track the results of all marketing activities so that you understand how well and how cost-effectively each one brings you leads.

Step 4 – Use strategic alliances

One of the greatest resources for generating leads for your business is other businesses. Working in strategic alliances with other businesses that sell to the same group you target as customers, but sell a different product, can be incredibly beneficial to all parties, including the customer. Consider how much easier would it be to get customers if you were using the database of a company that your potential customers had already done business with?

When McDonald’s has a new toy in its Happy Meal that relates to the latest summer movie, it’s a strategic alliance. The world’s biggest companies do it and their new sales grow because of it.

Strategic alliances also give you a sense of working in a team, rather that alone. You have another business owner, who is dealing with the same group of customers you are. You can discuss sale strategies, work on them together and profit together. If you need some help choosing a strategic alliance for your business, contact ActionCOACH for advice.

Using our proven 4 strategies for generating sales leads will ensure your business can generate enough new leads to keep your business moving forward. For advice unique to your business circumstances, book in a free first consultation with ActionCOACH, or call us on 02 9146 4439.

For more tips on sales and marketing download a copy of “Working with your niche so you don’t have to compete on price.”

define-marketing-metrics

How to Test & Measure your Sales & Marketing Plan using Marketing Metrics

So you’ve developed your sales and marketing plan, you’ve started implementing it, and 2016 is racing ahead. But how do you really know whether your plan is working or if you should revise or change it before time gets away? The only way to know is to actually test and measure your sales and marketing plan.

Believe it or not, testing and measuring is NOT new to you – you’ve probably been doing it your whole business life. At its most basic, the ‘trial and error’ method will have given you a catalogue of useful learnings over the months or years. The next step is to make decisions based on that information and adapt your sales and marketing plan for a successful business moving forward.

So, what marketing metrics should you use?

As well as objectives, budget, competitor market overview and SWOT, your sales and marketing plan should include the following FIVE marketing metrics, to make testing and measuring easier:

Metric 1: Direct feedback

You must start asking people where or how they found you. It’s difficult to judge how a particular advertisement is going based on sales alone. From working with thousands of business owners we can tell you that almost everyone will be happy to give you this info. Record this data, it could be a great indicator of what’s working or what in your sales and marketing plan you need to change.

Metric 2: Acquisition Costs

We discussed in a recent ActionCOACH blog the cost of acquiring new customers. The acquisition cost must, at minimum, be less than the lifetime value of the client – that way you know you will make a profit from them and that your marketing budget is sustainable. If it’s not, you will need to revise how you acquire new business in your sales and marketing plan.  Better still, if your Acquisition Cost is less than what you make out of a customer in the first transaction, then you have yourself an unlimited marketing budget!

Metric 3: The 5 Ways

To maximise your chance of increasing each of them, you must track each of the 5 ways: How many new leads did you generate last week/month/quarter?  What percentage of them did you convert to a customer?  On average, how many times did each of your customers buy from you and what did they spend each time?  And what was your net profit margin?  Just starting to measure each of these will often get them moving in the right direction!

Metric 4: Lifetime Value

Closely related to Leads, the lifetime value of a client can be measured against the cost of generating the lead for this client, to work out whether this particular client is sustainable and also whether the methods used to generate them are worth keeping in your sales and marketing plan.

Metric 5: In & outbound marketing methods

Whether you are pushing your message outbound to a wide audience, or making yourself more visible online to attract inbound customers to your business, you can test and measure both to determine how to change them in your plan. Inbound marketing is proving to be a more and more successful form of marketing as the population gets inundated with more marketing messages each day, so look at the cost of these activities closely.

There are many CRMs, databases  and other tracking tools out there that will help you to keep track of these metrics.  One way or the other, every time a prospect or customer interacts with your business, whether a sale is made or not, this must be recorded. If there is a large slice of the budget going to an activity which your CRM tells you has made no sales, it’s time to address and revise!

If you would like to design a sales and marketing plan that you can test and measure to make this your most successful year yet, book in for a FREE 90min coaching session and you will walk away with ideas and tools to put these into place. BOOK HERE or Register for the 6 Steps to Building a Better Business Seminar here.

Selling from Stage

Selling from Stage is one of, if not the, most effective way for Professional Services businesses in particular to promote themselves.

Whilst it may not lend itself to mass marketing, it is typically a very high conversion marketing activity.  This is largely because, speaking to a group of people, it is possible to do two things that cannot be done by mail, by phone, or in an initial 1:1 introduction:

  •  Emphasise the pain felt by your targets.

There are questions you can ask and comments you can make about the specific challenges experienced by your prospects/clients that, in a 1:1 situation would be inappropriate and, by phone or mail, would be ineffective.

  • Demonstrate your capabilities. 

Sampling is a strong influencer in the psychology of decision making.  In a presentation situation, you can allow the audience to genuinely feel and experience what you do, how you do it and the results you could achieve for them.

 

The techniques below specifically to selling from stage. They do not constitute a complete set of tips and techniques for public speaking in general. To be able to sell effectively from stage, it is necessary first to master the generic skills of public speaking.  Those skills are not discussed here, although there are three in particular that are critical to underpin effective selling from stage and so those are worth highlighting:

 

3 generic skills of public speaking that you need to master to be able to sell successfully from stage:

 

1. Words tell, stories sell. 

Real life examples, case studies, testimonials and stories will be far more effective in engaging the audience. They will more easily relate to your material and, as a result, will be more likely to buy!

 

2. Tell ‘em…tell ‘em…tell ‘em. 

The overall structure of any presentation is just as relevant here as in any other situation: Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em….then tell ‘em….then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.  That is to say, begin by outlining what you’ll all be going through, then go through it and then summarize at the end.  In the initial outline and in the end summation, emphasise not so much what you, as the speaker, will do, but emphasise that they, as the audience will get out of it.  Use clear, directive language; for example, “what I would expect you to take away from today’s presentation is……….”

 

3. Any supporting aids are only ever that…..support.

There are certainly times when powerpoint, flipcharts and other presentation aids are valuable….just be sure to use them only as a minimalist support.  They should contain VERY little of your content and should just be used to demonstrate or clarify a point you’re already making.

 

Now to the specific skills of Selling from Stage…

 

1.       Before anything else, engage the audience! 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Literally the first thing you say can (should?) be 3 or 4 short closed questions that ensure every member of the audience raises their hand to at least one of them and produces at least some form of engagement; usually a laugh!  This will wake them up, get the blood flowing, engage both sides of their brain and will also program them to participate.

 

These questions must be closed questions and must require every single member of the audience to participate.  For example, Brad Sugars usually begins with the same three questions: “Who in the audience owns a business?  Who in the audience is an employee?  Who in the audience owns a business but wishes they were an employee?!”

 

When asking the questions, raise your own arms – left arm first, then right, then left.  People tend to mirror and the majority are right-handed.

 

2.       Ask questions…..a lot!

 

If asking questions is the most important skill in selling, then it applies equally to selling from stage.  This is an effective technique for engaging the audience in general and also a very effective technique for emphasising their pain and challenges.

Often, these can be rhetorical questions but should still be accompanied by hand-raising.  Open questions can also be used, albeit sparingly and typically more with smaller audiences.  It is hard to get long and varied answers from 1,000 people!

 

3.       Position the audience to take action at the end.

 

From the very beginning of the presentation and then again during the presentation, prepare the audience for the fact that they will have an opportunity to buy/take action at the end.  Whether you have a particular special offer for them, whether you have a particular package you’re selling at the end, or whether you’re simply looking to arrange meetings with attendees, allude to this opportunity early in the presentation and then again during the presentation.  That way, their sub-conscious mind will be preparing to take up the opportunity and won’t be taken by surprise when it arrives.

 

4.       Any sized audience is made up of individuals. 

 

The most effective way to engage with anyone is 1-on-1.  In the course of your presentation, engage 1:1 with as many members of the audience as you can.  It may be by picking up on their answers to your questions or may be by responding to their questions.  Ideally, it is in a way that adds value to them.  Their direct connection with you and the law of reciprocity will then increase the chance of them buying from you or taking action at the end.

 

5.       It’s only relevant if they have a challenge or a situation.

 

In all likelihood, the only reason they’re in the audience in the first place is because they have a challenge that relates to what you’re talking about, or they want something you’re talking about.  Furthermore, if there is to be any chance of the taking action or buying from you at the end, they must have a challenge relating to what you’re talking about or they must want something you’re talking about.  So make sure that your questions, your stories and your content emphasises the challenges and/or opportunities that are relevant to your subject matter.

 

The biggest hurdle to clear with an audience before they will take action or buy from you is simply getting them motivated to do so.  The only two things that motivate people are pain-avoidance and goal-achievement so be sure to bring real emphasis to the pains and the opportunities they may be feeling!  In reality, pain-avoidance is typically the stronger motivator so usually it is most effective to bring more emphasis to bear on pains than on opportunities.

 

6.       If you don’t brag about yourself, who will?

 

This is also a great opportunity to demonstrate just how good you are.  Not only can you emphasise pains and opportunities that your audience are likely to be feeling, but you can also let them experience and feel just how great you can make things.

 

In the course of your presentation, case studies, stories about the results you achieve and how you achieve them, statistics about the results you deliver and testimonials from clients, can all be effective in emphasising this point.

3 Ways to Grow Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s the best form of advertising?  Word of Mouth!  Anyone who’s ever received one of those phone calls “Hi, my friend Peter recommended that I call you – I’d really love to engage you to do XYZ” knows the feeling – it’s exciting, it’s efficient and its great business!

 

Word of mouth referrals do sometimes happen with absolutely no effort on your part, other than the continued delivery of great service.  However, there are a number of ways to proactively stimulate increased word-of-mouth business:

 

1. Customer referrals – mandatory!  Be sure to have a program in place through which you actually ask customers for referrals.  It’s as simple as ABC:

  • Do your customers know who you’re looking for?
  • Do they know how to articulate your key messages?
  • Have you offered a reward to them or to the people they refer?

 

2. Referral partners – to increase your referral sources beyond just clients, join a group of like-minded (but non-competing) businesses and start referring business to each other.  The best-established, and probably most effective, is BNI.  Attend breakfast once a week and enjoy the inflow of business!  Apply the same ABC as mentioned above – educate other members of the group so that they can become great referrers to you.

 

3. Strategic Alliances – how many other (again non-competing) businesses are out there targeting and serving the same clients and prospects that you’d love to have?  Identify a few and start building your relationship with them.  Referring business to each other (ongoing or just as a one-off promotion) is a great way of generating word of mouth marketing.  To make it work well, apply the same ABC as listed above.

 

If you implement just two or three such programs and maintain the delivery of real “WOW” service, you’ll have a constant stream of word-of-mouth clients knocking at your door!

get other business to generate business for you

How to boost your profits by partnering with other businesses

One of the best ways to generate business is to have other businesses generate it for you. We all know word of mouth can be very a very powerful marketing tool; getting organizations to promote or recommend you to their clients is akin to word of mouth on steroids!

 

So how do you go about finding the right partners and inducing them to endorse your product or service? Before getting into that it is important first to understand the underlying dynamic in all word of mouth activity. Successful word of mouth, whether from individuals or businesses, essentially comes about in three stages:

1. Prompt

The first step, often overlooked, is simply to ask (and keep asking) people or other businesses to recommend your service or product to anyone they know who would benefit from what you have to offer.

 

get other business to generate business for you

boost your profit by partnering with other business

 

2. Educate

Secondly it is important to teach potential referrers on what your target market looks like and on why they should be interested in talking to you. As an example instead of saying: “if you know anyone who may be interested…”, say “if you know any young mums living in Sydney who are struggling with work-life balance” or “if you know any local small business owners in the IT industry who are currently hiring”. Similarly make sure potential referees understand everything you have to offer and what makes you stand out from your competitors.

 

3. Reward (optional)

Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to offer a reward to either or both the referrer the referee.

 

Keeping this process in mind, let’s now have a look at how you can solicit word-of-mouth promotion from another business rather than an individual.

 

The first step is to identify a list of potentially suitable partners. To do so it is crucial that you know your target market. Be as specific as possible: “females who are between the age of 20 and 30 living in the Sydney Eastern Suburbs, have no children and are interested in healthy lifestyle” or “businesses which have a turnover between $500k and $1m, between 1-5 employees, are located in Sydney and have been in business for at least 2 years”. Once you have a clear idea of whom your target market is, you can start putting together a list of organizations that tick some if not all of the following boxes:

– They serves exactly the same target market as you;

– They are not competitive to you;

– They have an excellent reputation;

– They have an extensive and up-to-date customer database (and are happy to share it with you).

 

The next step is to approach the companies on the list and pitch the idea to them. The key point here is to think through what it is you can offer – what’s in it for them. It is important to highlight from the start that you are not just wanting them to send you leads but are looking for a mutually beneficially relationship, a win-win partnership.

 

The partnership could take different forms.

 

The first one is a full-fledged strategic alliance. This is where the two companies agree to recommend each other to their respective customers and/or prospects on an ongoing, long term basis. The promotion to each other databases can include newsletter articles, joint seminars, blog entries etc. or simply verbal communication with clients. This type of alliance typically requires quite a bit of relationship building upfront, and for it to be successful it will require you to keep proactively managing the relationship as the partnership may wither after a while when the initial enthusiasm has ebbed.

 

The second form of partnership is a more short term, possibly one-off promotion called a host beneficiary. This is where you come up with a compelling offer or giveaway to pass on to the other company’s customer database. A good host beneficiary is a win-win: one company gets new leads, the other gets more customer loyalty as customers appreciate the value of the “gift”. As an example, a beauty salon could approach a hairdresser serving a similar type of clientele with a special offer for a beauty treatment. The hairdresser sends this offer to its database, presenting it as a gift to thank their clients for their loyalty. Later on, the companies could swap and the beauty salon could forward a special deal from the hairdresser to its client database. Host beneficiaries are powerful because prospects receive the offer from a trusted source, who therefore lends their implied (or explicit) endorsement to the product or service. A host beneficiary can be a better option if you are looking for a quick boost in leads, as strategic alliances tend to be a slower drip-feed of leads.