The #1 Tip for Hitting the Target with Marketing

Marketing isn’t something I was always confident about.  When I first started out in business, my degrees were in Political Science and Organizational Behavior.  I had very little marketing experience until I went to work for a transportation company in Southern California and, within a two week span, went from a role in purchasing to a significant role in marketing–a huge change that was an even bigger learning experience.

My marketing experience was trial by fire and reading.  I just started reading books on marketing and learned as I went, and it was that experience that gave me enough knowledge to do some marketing on my own when I later set out as a business consultant.

 

Marketing Target

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If somebody had asked me when I was 25 where I saw myself career wise in thirty years, I would have had no clue that my career would be all about marketing . . . that I would be the Chairman of the world’s largest referral marketing organization.  Sometimes we go places in life we never expected to go but I wouldn’t change a thing about the career path I chose.  I am passionate about helping people grow their businesses and achieve great success through effective referral marketing and after spending over two decades devoted to this work; I really enjoy knowing that the work I do allows me to pass on the marketing knowledge and experience I’ve attained in order to benefit to others.

I was recently asked what my top marketing tip would be and I think it’s really all about building the brand–either the brand of the company or of the individual, depending on the kind of business that you’re in.  Name recognition–that’s the biggest challenge, especially for small companies.  It’s not the same for everybody because every business is a little different and people’s skill sets are different.  For me, in my business, brand building has largely been about writing.  Before the internet I was trying to get articles in newspapers and magazines.  Now it’s much, much easier.  In this age of blogs and social media, even small companies have a global reach.  The problem is all the white noise that’s out there: with so many people wanting a piece of the action you have to be able to stand out.  So, for me, the top marketing tip would be to write, write, write.  Become an expert in your field so people want to follow you because when they follow you, they’re more likely to do business with you.

 

I’d love to hear how you’re making your mark with marketing–what is your top marketing tip for the other business owners out there reading this blog?

What Does It Take to Achieve Success through Word of Mouth?

In order to run a successful word-of-mouth campaign, you need to build an arsenal of credibility-enhancing materials.  You should always have these at your disposal to make the most of every networking opportunity

Note: Please keep in mind that this is not a complete list of items needed to market your business.  The items in this list are focused on enhancing your networking activities which will lead to greater word of mouth and referrals.

1-Testimonial letters from satisfied clients

2-Photos of yourself, your office facilities, equipment, and/or products

3-Logos of your key customers

4-A list of your memberships and affiliations

5-Question-and-answer sheets

6-Photos of awards and certificates you and your staff have earned

7-Articles you have published, or in which you’re mentioned

8-A one-page flier

9-New-product or service announcements or press releases

10-Current brochures, circulars, and data sheets, and product catalogs

11-Items that reflect your “brand”

12-Items that help you explain your business to your network

13-Client or customer proposals, bid sheets, or marketing letters you have written to existing clients

14-Articles on trends affecting your target market

For the sake of space,  I didn’t go into much detail here regarding each of the items in this list but I can certainly go into plenty more of an explanation as to what these items entail.

I’ll leave it up to all of you blog readers to weigh in on whether or not you’d like to see a follow up blog explaining each of the items listed above . . . so, leave a comment and let me know–should I write a blog giving the details regarding these items?  Thumbs up, or thumbs down?? . . . Thanks!

 

How to Meet the RIGHT People

A networking event is not–I repeat not–designed to bring strangers together for the purpose of referring themselves to one another.  Why would you refer yourself to someone you barely know?  A typical networking event is designed to have people who don’t know one another meet and mingle.  But for a networking event to be fully productive for you, you must meet the right people for the right reasons.  Meeting the right people will make a positive impact on your business and give you a high return on your networking investment.

Handshake

Image courtesy of jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, at a networking event, how exactly do you identify the right people to meet?  You do this by considering two types of individuals: those serving your preferred clients and those who have the potential to help you meet your business goals.  Today I’d like to focus on looking at those who serve the same professional client as you.  “Hey, aren’t those folks likely to be my competitors?” you might wonder.  Not necessarily.

Consider these two examples:

  • Lorraine is a real estate agent whose preferred clients are retired home owners or empty nesters with assets over $1 million, who love to travel, are country club members, and seriously pamper their pets.  Other suppliers for their services might include high-end salons and spas, professional landscapers, financial advisors, country club owners, travel agents, home-cleaning service providers, and pet resorts.
  • Tanya is the owner of a direct-mail company that targets colleges and universities.  When Tanya could not determine who else serviced the decision makers at the university, her marketing coach asked her if she had a current client in that preferred market.  She said yes.  Then she was asked, “How well do you know her?  Will she take your call?  Would she grant you thirty minutes of her time?”  Tanya emphatically replied, “Yes!”  Her coach then suggested that she schedule a purposeful meeting and sit down with her to pick her brain on who she grants her time to and who else supports her needs.

Your preferred clients have many suppliers for their needs and it could be in your best interest to connect and build relationships with those other suppliers so, when networking, you want to focus on meeting these people.  The answers to the questions that were asked of Tanya helped direct her to the people she should be searching for while networking.  You can gain the same benefit by having a similar conversation with one of your preferred clients and asking questions like these: “Who else solves your daily problems?” ; “Who do you allow in the door?” ; “What companies do you call on when you need (product)?” ; “Whom do you trust when it comes to helping you (type of service)?”

At networking events, look for name tags that fit specific professional categories you’re seeking to cultivate.  If you meet a professional who services your preferred client–and you like the individual as a person–consider this the first step in building a new relationship.  If you build a trusting and giving relationship with someone who provides services for your preferred client market, it stands to reason that your referral potential will increase dramatically.  Remember that in a true tri-win (that’s win-win-win) relationship, that person’s referral potential will also increase, and the client will get the best service possible.

Be sure to come back next week as I’ll be posting specifically about the other types of people you want to focus on meeting while networking–those who can help you meet your business goals.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear any stories you may have about how you successfully built a relationship with someone who serves the same professional client as you do and how that relationship has benefited you and/or the other service provider .  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below–thanks!

 

 

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?

In this video, I discuss how to identify and prepare for the appropriate time to ask for a favor within the context of a business relationship.

I explain how the concept of social capital is a key factor when it comes to asking favors and I tell a personal story where a business associate of mine named Alex went about building social capital with me in the absolute perfect way.

Watch the video now to learn the ONE thing you need to have with someone before you ask a favor of them and, also, how to spot when it would be a big mistake for you say yes to favors when you’re asked to do them by other people.

Do you have a story about how you built social capital with someone in a great way, how someone else built social capital with you in a memorable way, or how someone asked you for a favor when it wasn’t the right time?  I’d love to hear these stories as well as any other stories you might have that are related to this topic. Please share them in the comment forum below–thanks!

Give Me One Good Reason I Should Do Business With You

SHARK-TANKA few months ago, I started watching some episodes of “Shark Tank” and I got hooked!  There are some serious business lessons that can be learned by viewing the show and I saw one of them last week while I was watching a rerun from a previous season (it’s sad, I’m completely hooked now and I’m checking out past episodes).

There was an entrepreneur on the show by the name of Raven Thomas.  Raven started a food business called, The Painted Pretzel (pretzels covered with chocolate and other confectionaries).

She had a pretty good business and, according to the panelists (The Sharks), a product that was delicious. After a fair amount of discussion, Lori Greiner (one of the Sharks) got down to the end of the conversation and asked, “Why should we invest in you?”   I realized at that moment that this was the big question and I knew Raven’s answer could make or break the deal.  Raven replied to Lori with… “The main reason is that I have two little kids and . . . (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah).”  I immediately paused the show, looked to my wife Beth, and practically screamed “She just blew it!  She totally gave a relational answer to a bunch of transactional SHARKS!  They don’t care about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, they want something closer to ‘show me the money’ than ‘I love what I do!’” 

Beth replied, “You have to know your audience when you are talking about your business.” Her statement was spot on.   Before I started up the episode again, Beth and I talked about how crucial it was for Raven to speak the language that the Sharks speak if she wanted them to invest in her.  She needed to speak a language focused on opportunity, growth, ROI, and cold hard cash.  Instead, Raven talked about how she felt about her business and how it related to her children.  Her answer failed to include anything at all that the Sharks would relate to as serious, analytical business investors looking for reasons to convince them Raven’s business would be a wise financial investment.

I resumed watching the episode so I could witness the train wreck which I was sure was about to ensue.  To my astonishment, Robert Herjavec gave Raven a “do-over” (I really like this Shark – if I ever have the chance to be a panelist on a business show, I’d like to think my style would be similar to his).  Robert looked at Raven and gave her a chance to give a better answer by saying to her, “Let’s do that again.She took a moment and said, “A good reason to invest in me is that I had to walk away from a $2 million deal because I did not have the capital to fill the order . . . and that door is still open.” This answer was a show stopper—it completely landed the Sharks’ attention.  Within a few moments, Mark Cuban (Shark and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) offered Raven $100,000 cash and distribution of her product at his stadium and at each location of the movie theater chain he owns!  She, of course, said yes to Mark’s offer.  As a result, she now expects that her company’s sales will exceed $1.2 million dollars this year!

The lesson to be learned here is that it is absolutely imperative to know your audience and tailor your comments to suit the people you’re talking to.  This is an extremely important lesson in both the business arena and the networking arena.  In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I recommend that when you first meet people, you begin by asking them questions about themselves prior to speaking in length about yourself.  The more you know about the people you’re talking to, the better able you will be to craft your own message in a way that effectively resonates with them.

I’d love to hear either a success story or a horror story that you might have about people “knowing” or “not knowing” their audience.  Please share your story in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Are You on the Right Track with Career Networking?

Despite what a lot of people might think, there are actually many more similarities between business networking and career networking.  In this short video, I point out some of the key similarities between these two types of networking and explain the ideal time for people to start thinking about their career needs and making efforts toward career networking.

Watch the video now to learn the five magic words that can completely change the dynamic of potentially challenging conversations and open the way to form important, lasting connections and beneficial relationships in your networking efforts and throughout your career.

Also, if you have a story about how you have used basic networking skills within your job, before you were looking for a job, or as you were starting a job, I’d really love to hear from you.  Please share your story in the comment forum below and be sure to submit your story at www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.comWhen you submit your story via SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com, it will be considered for inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield and Gautam Ganglani.  Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to reading your stories!

Referral Marketing: Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards

In a radio interview I once did, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the safest form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no.” Based on his response, I’m sure he was shocked by that answer.

I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that word-of –mouth marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral advertising that are not an issue in commercial or other forms of advertising.

When you give a referral, you give a little of your reputation away. If the business you’ve referred someone to does a good job, it helps your reputation. But if it does a poor job, your reputation may be hurt.

As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly. But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of them, you must have confidence in that friend.

But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you and, because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with those to whom you’re referring business and vice versa. Once those strong connections are forged you can rest easy, knowing when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.

Do you have a story others might learn from about a time when referral marketing really paid off for you, or a story about how you experienced the unique risks associated with referral marketing firsthand?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  I’d love to hear from you–thanks!

Are You Unintentionally Abusing Your Relationships?

Many people in the United States are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday today–a time when we get together with friends and family to celebrate all that we’re thankful for.  In thinking about the things I’m grateful for, the meaningful, trusted relationships I’ve built with so many amazing people around the world throughout my networking career are top of mind.  These relationships are invaluable to me and I know that investing in them and always respecting them is the key to maintaining trust and reaping the maximum benefits from my networking efforts.

In light of this, I thought I’d share this short video where I tell a story about what can happen when people don’t respect their relationships with their fellow networkers.  Abusing the relationship is probably the biggest mistake people can make when networking . . . not following up, confusing networking with direct selling, and premature solicitation are all faux pas when it comes to networking but abusing the relationship is the worst faux pas of all.

The fact is, we all screw up when we first start networking–I know I did!  The ticket to networking success, however, is learning–recognizing what we’ve done wrong so that we can understand how to do it right.

Do you have a story about how you learned from a networking faux pas you made in the past, or from being on the receiving end of someone else’s faux pas? If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

How to Make a Significant Impression upon First Contact

What transpires the first time you meet someone?  How do you make an effective connection to the point where they are interested in meeting with you again?  How can you make yourself memorable in their mind? It’s not always easy to do.

In this video, explain the one powerful question you should always wrap up the conversation with after meeting someone for the first time in a business networking environment.  In addition, I demonstrate how effective this question  can be by telling a story about how I personally developed significant credibility with a first contact much more quickly than usual simply by asking this question.

I’d love to get your feedback on this strategy  and if you have additional suggestions for making a stellar, lasting impression upon  meeting someone for the first time, please share it in the comment forum below–I’m really interested in hearing your ideas!  Also, if you have a standout story similar to the one I tell in the video, about making effective initial connections, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Think “That Online Networking Stuff” Is Just for “Young People”?–Think Again . . .

Many of my video blogs of late, including this one, focus on topics that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be focusing on in our upcoming book about networking.  I’m posting these videos to share my own thoughts and stories about different networking topics because Jack, Gautam, and I are looking for personal story submissions from networkers across the globe and these videos give examples of the kind of stories we’re looking for.

In this particular video, I talk about different aspects of online networking in relation to face-to-face networking.  It seems that younger networkers (mostly those belonging to the millennial generation) are often all about online networking and don’t see the point in face-to-face; whereas networkers from the older generations tend to be completely on board with face-to-face networking but see online efforts as a fad or a waste of time.  One of the things I emphasize in this video, however, is that networkers today should never take an “either” face-to-face “or” online networking stance–instead, for maximum results and increased opportunity, they should take a “both/and” stance, integrating each type of networking into their overall referral marketing strategy.

If you have a story similar to the one  I share in the video about making powerful connections online, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming networking book which I mention above.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Successful Networkers Build Deep Relationships–Know Your Contacts

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, the fact is it will simply never be very powerful.  In this video, I talk about why investing the time and effort into really getting to know your contacts and building deep, trusted relationships with them is key to networking success.

Do you know your contacts’ hobbies? Do you know their family members’ names? If your answer is no, this means you’re not delving beneath the surface with your contacts and you’re not building fruitful relationships–you need to get to know your contacts much better.

Watch this short video now to learn how to build deeper, mutually beneficial relationships by using the GAINS Exchange, get relationship-building success strategies used by international sales expert & keynote speaker Harvey Mackay, and more.

Do you have a method or a tactic for getting to know your contacts better which has really seemed to work for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  I’m always interested in the tactics that networkers around the world have successfully used to achieve networking success and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Darkside of the VCP Process®

The dark side of the VCP Process® occurs when people get disconnected from what networking is really all about–they’re not carrying out the VCP Process as it is meant to be carried out and that’s when everything goes wrong.

As I mentioned in the video blog I posted last week, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking.  Today’s video is, again, one of several short videos I’ll be posting which cover networking topics that we will be focusing on in the book.  These videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and in this particular video, I explain the networking disconnect–the unfortunate occurrence which takes place when everybody comes to a networking event to sell yet nobody comes to buy.

If you have a story relating to the ‘networking disconnect’ which fits the criteria I describe in the video, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

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