“What can I do to market my business?”
This is the top question I get when meeting a business owner, or independent salesperson. As soon as I mention what I do for a living, inevitably people want free advice. So, I decided to put together some guidelines that helped me market my business.
- Make a List
You must know who your potential customers are. So, make a list of everyone you know, everyone you’ve done business with, buy things from, family, friends, past clients, etc. Use a spreadsheet and capture all the basic details. (name, address, city, state, zip, phone, email, relationship, and notes). Add to this list every time you meet someone new, or make a new sale. Get into the habit and never stop doing this.
- Communicate with your List
This is where most people scratch their heads. Communicating with your list is easy, but must be done effectively. This depends on what kind of business you are in. First, you want to get an email system like Outstand. I’ve loved this service ever since I found it, many years ago. Once you load all of your contacts, you create categories and just check mark them for each contact. Once you do that, you can segment your messages for any occasion. Personal holiday greetings, business proposals, announcing a new service, everything! Email is a great start, but a letter and phone call may also be good if you are in sales. Just remember that people want to be treated like….people. Not wallets with legs. So, just keep everything light and friendly.
- Get LISTED
This is where a few services come in. Yelp comes to mind. It’s a great directory listing online, with reviews. Google Business is next. Then, TopLocal.org will top it off with a dynamic local referral network and an online listing. TopLocal is not a directory. It’s a way for businesses to work with each other, per zip code, to help promote each other. The directory is just to help. The real power is the monthly guides that each member prints and distributes. It’s like warm market referrals, put into the hands of paying local customers, every single month. This can have a huge impact over time. Members will distribute tens of thousands of local business guides each year, in every active zip code.
- Get CONNECTED
Join the local Chamber of Commerce. It’s a must. There you will meet other business owners, attend functions, meet local politicians and influential people. These are colleagues from your own industry as well as others. Get active with the Chamber and volunteer.
- Treat People Right and Ask for Referrals
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. But, you must earn it first and make it known that you value referrals from your favorite customers. Tell them you need help spreading the word about your business. Don’t wait until after the sale. Ask during the sale. Remember, people love you best while you are helping them…not after.
These are the basics and the firm foundation upon which to build your business. Do these things consistently, no matter what comes up. It helped me market my business and it can help you too.
January 29, 2018 | Marketing Guru
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!
November 4, 2017 | Marketing Guru