Marketing 101: Build a Local Referral Network0
Build a Local Referral Network
Why build a local referral network? Every salesperson and business owner dreams of a simple way to generate a steady flow of potential customers. Many turn to advertising, spending thousands of dollars, in hopes of making the phone ring or the customers coming in. There are many available options offered to business owners, some effective and some ineffective. Many expensive options are largely ineffective, which seams counter-intuitive. You’d think spending a bunch of money on advertising would bring in lots of business. However, often times it will simply drain your budget.
Much like building a local referral network, the most effective business generation strategies actually take some planning and work to implement. In fact, there may be a correlation between the effort required and the effectiveness because most people won’t do it. Have you ever heard the saying, “To have what others don’t have, you must do what others are unwilling to do” ? It makes sense. If most people take the easy way out, spending a bunch of money or using the mass email passive approach, then those methods will be saturated in the marketplace. If most people don’t go door to door, or spend time developing strategic partnerships, then those methods will be mostly unsaturated and will have lower competition. Get it?
The dawn of the internet and email brought attractive marketing methods with which business owners could broadcast their advertising to thousands of people. But, as more and more people adopt these passive methods, they become less and less effective. This breathes new life to the old-school methods of business promotion. Working smart requires experience and being faithful to time-tested marketing strategies.
As a young salesman, I learned that it’s better to spend time developing lead sources than single leads.
Eventually I met with a mentor and learned about a method of developing a whole group of lead sources, a local referral network. It involves networking with other business owners in a particular area, helping each other promote their businesses. Working as a team is always more effective than trying to “recreate the wheel” individually.
TopLocal.org was created as a small business marketing platform, with which every business owner can develop a group in their zip code. This group will not allow competing businesses within the zip code, so everyone can feel free to give their all to promote the group and not worry about promoting a competitor. TopLocal offers a printable zip code business guide that each member prints and distributes monthly. This guide features your business on the cover and the rest of the group inside, so you’ll want to pass them out to your customers.
Other business networking groups rely on each member actively recommending other businesses to their customers. But, who has that kind of time? Not me! TopLocal solves this problem by providing a way to promote your group and benefit your own business in the process. Plus, at only $20/month it’s cheap to lock down your exclusive category in your zip code.
Building a local referral network is very rewarding. Actively promoting the group to other non-competing businesses helps you get more and more advertising. With consistent effort you could have a hundred businesses in your group, providing you with an increasing number of guides distributed in your local area each month. Thousands of local consumers will see your business over and over again. In very little time, you will be effectively competing with those “big box” stores and their million dollar advertising budgets.
Now, let’s get building!