Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people in your town or city thought about “your name” whenever the subject of your type of business came up? What impact could that have on your business? Better visibility? Increased credibility? More referrals? More Clients? Yes!!!
As with all worthwhile accomplishments this will take some effort on your part. Start by developing two solid communication techniques.
1. A one-minute overview of who you are and what you do. (As a member of TEAM you already know this).
2. Prepare a terrific 15-20 minute presentation on a subject that is helpful to the general public, not focused on selling, but you will of course be showcasing your business. Using your one minute overview and get on the phone and find the contacts for the local service groups, Rotary, Lions, the Chamber of Commerce (any group that schedules outside speakers) and get on their speaker rotation with your “informative 15-20 minute presentation.”
You can also build your “fashion” reputation by becoming a contributing journalist to your local newspaper or community magazine. Submit informative articles on trends, seasonal products or services or topics that peak the interest of your target market. Look at starting an advice column that appears on an on-going basis.
Consider chairing a major event/fund raiser for a local charity. The more “you” and “your business” are featured the more visibility you will create. Donate the proceeds of sales to the charity. Making this an annual event really creates interest.
Don’t forget to contact the editor of your local newspaper responsible for the calendar of events to publicize any and all speaking engagements and events you participate in. Be sure to invite the local press to these events or better yet hold a “press party” in conjunction with these activities. Send regular press releases to the local press keeping them up to date on all your activities, including any awards and recognition you receive.
If you incorporate these simple techniques into your business you will, along with your business will establish yourself as “The Local Expert”. Your name will become synonymous as the person to go to whenever the subject comes up. Don’t forget to approach all of these avenues with your best way of doing business.
By Harvey Mackay
Holiday Inn founder, Kemmons Wilson’s advice is to “work half-days, every day. And it doesn’t matter which half… the first 12 hours or the second 12 hours.” Working half-days didn’t make Wilson the motel maven of the world overnight. Wilson turned Holiday Inn into a franchising marvel, before selling the business in 1990.
Mackay says “Wilson’s life is a super value-pack of lessons for entrepreneurs”:
Almost every business owner wants more leads for their business. In fact, for many owners the need for a constant inflow of qualified leads often dominates their thinking. There are, however, many challenges to ensuring and maintaining that supply. And, in addition to the needs of today, growth objectives and profit goals will require increased revenue which must come from increased sales—which means more leads. So are there really “sure-fire” methods of lead generation? And, if so, what are they?
Truly successful lead generation must always be an integrated part of your marketing strategy. And this rests on having a comprehensive plan that takes into account the demographics and psychographics of your target market, as well as your positioning—the perception of your business and your product/services held by that target market. In other words, your lead generation efforts must be guided by who it is you are ideally trying to attract to your business and what it is you’re promising them.
A mistake many business owners make with lead generation activities is to simply try different things with no real thought about who their ideal customers are, where they are, and how to best reach them. Random acts of lead generation produce random results—and a very questionable ROI.
Assuming you have effectively put together a strategic marketing plan and you know your ideal target market customer, what can you do right now to generate some solid, qualified leads?
Here are some tried-and-true methods for getting good leads quickly:
The real key to generating more leads is how well you know your most probable customers—your target market. This is why making lead generation a systemic part of your marketing is so important. However, even though continual research and quantification of data on your target market is essential, it’s also critical to avoid getting stalled by too much analysis and not enough action! It was the American General and military strategist George S. Patton, who said: “A good plan, violently executed today, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” A good strategy supported by some effective tactics will result in the leads you need.
Providing good customer service is not enough of a reason for people to refer your business to others. People are more likely to talk about your business when they are unhappy with your product or service than when they are happy with it! Therefore, you should develop an incentive plan to give people a reason to refer your business to others. In establishing an incentive plan for people to refer your business these are some important elements to consider:
* Be consistent and reward referral sources equally.
* Determine the potential cost of the program in advance and plan appropriately.
* Decide if you will be rewarding A). all referrals B). referrals that purchase only, or
* Referrals that purchase above a certain amount (you might consider a three tiered incentive program as well).
* Select what the incentive will be. A gift? Recognition? A gift certificate? A percentage or dollar amount off their next purchase? Or plain ol’ cash?
You will also want to determine when and how the incentive is given. Adding special touches such as unique wrapping or a handmade card makes an even greater impression. A unique example is a custom gift certificate chocolate bar wrapped in gold given to appreciative clients, they not only get to spend their reward they get to eat it as well! You can also continue to reinforce your relationships by sending a personal note or inspirational message to your referral sources as well.
There are also other less tangible ways to recognize the people who refer business to you. Recognizing them publicly by posting their name and thanking them, or doing the same in your newsletter works nicely. Or establish a section of your newsletter that thanks them and shares what they received as a result of referring you. This can be very effective.
Be sure to track and follow up on your referrals. Share with the source who referred you what is happening with their referral, tell them what you plan to do next and keep them informed. They will appreciate knowing how well you are taking care of the person they sent to you.
The most successful incentive plans to get people to refer you are generally special and memorable, leaving an impression upon the source so that they will be inspired to continue referring your business to the people in their lives. Using an effective incentive plan will help you do better and smarter business.
When someone asks you for something you do not do …
…how do you handle requests? One way to handle it is to refer the business to someone else, perhaps even a competitor who can better handle that particular request. By referring the important people in your life ( clients, family, friends, business associates, contacts, etc.) to the “right” person or business for the job, you become an “invaluable resource” to them. The result will be that they will think of you whenever they or someone they know needs your services and will also look to you as a referral source, keeping you and your business front and center in their minds.
Make Crows Feet
Fake smiles utilize different muscles than genuine smiles. A real smile includes crow’s feet because it engages the eyes, cheeks and corners of the lips.
Use the right words
Dress for a tie
This is one time you want a tie, not a victory or a loss. Overdressing says, “I’m richer, more powerful, and more important than you.” Underdressing says, “I don’t respect you. I’ll dress any way I please.” Equal dressing says, “We’re peers.”
Pursue & project your passions
People who are passionate about what they do are more interesting, and interesting people are enchanting. Find shared passions. The best negotiators spend 40% of their preparation time finding shared interest with the other party.
Perfect your handshake
There are just a few more helpful tips, secrets and some key reminders that I want to embed in your mind. These are very important during your path of becoming a master networker and ensuring your efforts create productive networking.
Be Prepared – Have your introduction and commercials prepared in your head so you aren’t tongue-tied when you meet someone new.
Be Informed – Read the paper, either offline or online, so you know what’s going on in the community and the world. Ensure you are versed on current events.
Be Authentic – Ensure that you are truly present and partake in the conversation. DO NOT make the mistake of following the advice of ‘small talk’ experts who say. “Just ask people questions; because people love to talk about themselves.” If all you do is ask questions, you offer nothing to the conversation. People will feel uneasy around you because you really aren’t being present to any relationship building process.
Be Personable – Treat people as people, not prospects.
Be Transparent – Remember people do business with people the like and trust. The more transparent you are the easier you are to like and trust.
Be Professional – First impressions are lasting impressions, this is unfortunate but true. Ensure you are representing yourself exactly how you want to be perceived while staying true to you.
Some members cringe when it is their turn to be the featured speaker at their networking meeting, others eagerly look forward to it! Whichever category you fall into, as effective networkers, we know the importance of getting the word out about our business. Seize the opportunity to speak whenever possible! Some of you may even be looking for speaking engagements as a referral, if so, share this information with your chapter members during your One Minute Business Commercial!
1). If you are looking for speaking opportunities, let the members of your networking group know that you accept speaking engagements as a bona fide referral.
2). Ask your networking partners to refer you to the program chair of other organizations (who have outside speakers) that they belong to.
3). If you are asked to speak at the last minute, or to “pinch hit” for a speaker who did not show up, be prepared! Always have an outline or prepared presentation with you. Use your TEAM Presentation worksheet as a guide.
4). Don’t worry that you will be viewed as aggressive in your approach, know that you will be looked upon as a business person who can present their business in a professional manner at the drop of a hat!
Remember to have your presentation be a topic of interest for your audience and to deliver an effective message about who you are and what you do!