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Word of Mouth Archives - Page 3 of 10 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Can You Pinpoint the Benefits of Your Product or Service?

Sales training often teaches us that customers make buying decisions based on (1) their emotions (“Sell the sizzle, not the steak!”) and (2) the value the product or service brings to them.  Marketing specialists capitalize on customers’ emotion-based buying habits.  Customers choose a product or service based on its benefits, not its features.  The features are simply the bare-bones facts–the elements or significant parts–of the product or service.  The benefits are its value to the customer–how it will solve their problems, eliminate their pain, and make life glorious.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To understand the difference between features and benefits, let’s think about a car:

Features of a car

  • V-6 engine, dual exhaust, front-wheel drive, sunroof, significant interior legroom, heated seats, heated glass

Benefits of those features

  • V-6 engine–ability to pull onto the highway without hesitation (and to impress your friends)
  • Dual exhausts–higher fuel efficiency and more power (and it sounds groovy and also impresses your friends)
  • Front-wheel drive–more interior room because of the lack of a driveshaft tunnel
  • Sunroof–the open feel of a convertible with the safety and security of a sedan
  • Legroom–greater comfort while driving long distances and more room for your growing family
  • Heated seats–cozy motoring on frigid days and nights; greater back comfort on long-distance trips
  • Heated glass–the convenience of not having to scrape icy windows in the winter

The more perceived value a benefit offers, the higher it gets ranked in your decision to purchase.  Objectively, a sunroof is not a significant feature, but if it makes you feel a bit like a race car driver, perhaps that benefit raises its value for you.  Heated seats are nice too, but they might not rank high in value for to people who live in a warm climate and wouldn’t strongly influence their buying decision.  The benefits of dual exhausts, however, might have perceived value for all buyers–better fuel efficiency, more power, and a sound like your beloved but departed ’57 Chevy.

What does all this have to do with your referral marketing message?  Simply this:  Most businesspeople, without thinking about it, talk in terms of features.  As professional experts and salespeople, that’s what they’re most familiar with.  They’re not accustomed to looking at their products or services from a customer’s perspective.

In formulating the message you want your networking partners to convey, your challenge is to put yourself in the customer’s place.  What are the benefits of your product or service?  How will it make the customer’s life or business easier, more comfortable, more satisfying, more profitable?  How can you shorten and simplify your message so that others can communicate these benefits more clearly and surely?

Now that you have a good understanding of the difference between features and benefits, I hope you’ll come back next week to read the follow-up blog post I’ll be doing which will teach show you exactly how to zero in on the benefits of your business.  Until then, if you have any questions about features vs. benefits or any thoughts you’d like to share regarding this post, please leave a comment in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The Power of Being Specific

In this video, I explain a great technique for getting your referral partners to really hone in on and start passing you more and more of the exact type of referrals that you ideally want. The technique is simply to focus on being as specific as possible.

In order to demonstrate just how powerful specificity can be, I take you through two 10-second exercises which clearly convey how results can be significantly greater when we take care to be specific. You’ll need a pen and a piece of paper to participate in the exercises so be sure to grab those two things before watching the video and please feel free to leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this video and/or any effective strategies you may have which help you focus on specificity with members of your network.

Using Social Media—“Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.” 

TR-and-Ivan-Blue-Backgrou

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  A while ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe. Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 12–the final post in this series. Enjoy.

TRBlog1VCPpic1

Using Social Media to Navigate the VCP Process®
(Part 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations. For Parts 6and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us.

In Part 9, we suggested some behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, as a result, we got a couple phone calls complimenting us about how that particular blog post clearly outlined what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a weekly and monthly basis – and we were asked to provide more. We fulfilled that request.

In Part 10, we addressed that ‘Mindset’ has as much to do with your success in networking as ‘Skillset’. And in Part 11 we addressed how to deliver effective Introductions & Short Presentations when Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking. And therefore, in this final installment of the series, we found it relevant to address “The Elephant in the Room” – Social Media.

Yes, as experts on Business Networking and Referral Marketing, we’ve been asked time and time again to provide our opinions on how Social Media fits into one’s own Business Networking Plan (…if at all).

So, today, let’s address this “The Elephant in the Room”. Let’s bring out into the open the question that still may be on the minds of many of our readers.

When asked about the topic of Online Networking versus Offline Networking, you may have already heard Ivan share his philosophy that “…it’s not either/or, it’s both/and when addressing this topic”.

Today, let’s dig a little deeper and give you a clearer picture on what’s meant by this, as well as deliver you actionable steps for you to take (as the title of this blog insinuates) to use Social Media to navigate the VCP Process® to networking.

Let’s get started.

An often overlooked tool to navigating the VCP Process® is using Social Media effectively. And, more specifically – Facebook.  Now please allow us to clarify. We didn’t say Facebook is overlooked! Lol.

ENTERTAINMENT vs. EXECUTION

We happen to believe that many people are actually addicted to Facebook and spend way too much time using it for ENTERTAINMENT. Whereas, they could actually be using it for the EXECUTION of a well thought out strategy.

Let’s face it. There are professionals out there who you want passing you referrals that are on many of the same Social Media platforms that you’re on. Yet, do you have a Business Networking Plan that addresses this?

Well, would you like to grasp a really quick concept that will help you address this?

For example, let’s assume an ideal referral partner for you is a CPA. And, you recently met a CPA at a monthly networking event such as a Chamber of Commerce mixer. What typically happens is that “life happens” immediately after that event and 30 days go by before you see that CPA again.

From our perspective, it’s going to take a long time to dig deep and build a quality, meaningful relationship and move through the VCP Process® with this person when you only see this CPA twelve times a year.

Therefore, today, we’re recommending you use Social Media to compliment your in-person, face-to-face networking efforts. Yes, if you take action and plan to make strategic “Touch Points” during the time between those mixers, you’ll actually be able to expedite the VCP Process®.

And, who doesn’t want to shorten the cycle from first meeting someone (i.e. Visibility) to building trust with them (i.e. Credibility) to finally getting an actual referral from them (i.e. Profitability)?

Yes, too many people are spending too much time on Social Media for ENTERTAINMENT purposes versus the successful EXECUTION of specific tactics of an overall strategy that will help them drive revenue to their business.

Today, we’d like to make a pretty good case that Social Media shouldn’t be ignored either. Social Media should be considered an intricate part of successfully following your particular Business Networking Plan.

HERE’S ONE SPECIFIC TACTIC YOU CAN USE IMMEDIATELY

Let’s assume an ideal referral partner for you is a CPA as noted above. By connecting with this person on Facebook immediately after meeting them and strategically LIKING or COMMENTING on some of their posts – you will create additional Visibility so that the next time you see this CPA it will actually FEEL like you’ve known each other longer.

Does this make sense?  We would love for you to leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.

 

What Makes Someone Referrable?

I had a great conversation a while back with my business partner in the Referral Institute, Mike Macedonio (pictured to the right).  He was explaining why he feels there are only a few criteria that must be met to make people referrable by him.

The first criterion is that the individual must be an expert at what he or she does.  He looks for people who have invested in learning their trade and continue to invest to master their trade.  Do they specialize in a certain area?  What achievements have they attained in their area of expertise?

Another one of Mike’s requirements is that the person is passionate about what he or she does.  This especially makes a lot of sense to me because if you’re not passionate about what you do, how can you expect other people to get excited about working on your behalf?

Mike’s last criterion stipulates that the person he is referring understands and honors the referral process.  More specifically, Mike wants to ensure that the person receiving the referral understands his or her number-one responsibility.  To quote Mike, “The number-one responsibility when you receive a referral is to make the person who gave you the referral look great.”  As long as the people Mike gives referrals to are doing this for him, Mike can remain confident that his reputation will be protected.  It also compels him to continue giving these people referrals.

Mike’s list of qualifications that make a person referrable is short, yet very powerful.  After discussing it, we both agreed that we should expect others to evaluate our referrability by these same criteria.  Are we invested experts, and do we continue to invest in our trade?  Are we passionate about what we do?  Are we practicing what we preach?  Do we make our referral sources look great?  I’m glad to say that I’m confident we both do all of these things.

So what makes people referrable by you?  I’m sure many of you have some great ideas in response to this. I’d love to hear them, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Networking Is Not a Short Term Strategy

In this video, I talk to my friend, French networking expert Marc-William Attie, about why networking is not a short term strategy and also why the long term commitment that goes along with networking is well worth your while.

Marc demonstrates the value of putting effort into networking by telling the story of an architect who spent three years building relationships with fellow networkers without receiving any significant referrals and then received a referral worth $300,000.00 . . . a payoff that was definitely worth the wait!

Do you have any stories about how your networking efforts have paid off in big ways?  Is so, please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

How to Get People to Refer Business to You

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

So, what specific actions can you take this week to let people know how to refer business to you?  I’d love to hear your ideas–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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!

 

The Top 2 Things You Must Do to Succeed at Networking

Last week, I was asked a question by a young business owner who is quite new to networking.  She asked me what I believe to be the most crucial things a person needs to do in order to achieve the maximum amount of success in generating business referrals through word-of-mouth marketing.  In response to her question, I’d like to revisit a video I filmed a while back because in it I talk with Terry Hamill, a respected business networking expert based in Europe, and he  Terry explains the two most important keys for maximum effectiveness and success in business referral generation–preparation and follow up.

Terry advises that the true gold is in the follow up and that the most successful networkers use the strongest follow-up methods; he also offers a few important tips for preparation prior to attending networking meetings and events.

Do you have a favorite follow-up method or a highly effective preparation tactic that you use prior to attending networking functions?  If so, we’d love to hear about it!  What works well for you could really help other people in their journey to networking success so, by all means, please feel free to share your favored methods and tactics in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Got Business Goals?–Connect with Those Who Can Help You!

Last week I posted a blog on how to meet the right people and I focused on explaining how to meet people who serve the same professional client as you.  Today, I’d like to continue this discussion but I’d like to focus specifically on how to meet people who can help you meet your business goals.

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First off, if you haven’t set business goals then let’s stop right here–you need to make that your top priority this week!  If you do have business goals, don’t let them collect dust on your bulletin board or get covered up in your drawer.  Make it a point to review them each month.  Choose a goal.  The big question you need to ask yourself is “Who do I need to meet to help me accomplish this goal?”

It’s tough to make it alone in today’s competitive business environment.  Even the biggest sports stars or governmental candidates can’t reach their goals alone–so why should we try to go it alone?  Let’s say that one of your business goals this year is to write an article for a local paper.  How would you network your way to achieving that goal?  Well, first, you would start reading the paper.  You’d find out who writes the articles, who writes for other papers in your area, who the editors are, etc.  Then you would get the word out to your own network as there’s a fair chance it includes someone who could put you in contact with the right individual.  You would let it be known that you wanted to meet writers, editors, and others working for local papers so you could gain insight and knowledge into how they accomplished something you were aspiring to do–you would also let it be known that you were in no way intending to try to sell to these people.

You would also look for networking events sponsored by these publications.  You’d probably find staff members there providing support and you’d want to focus on meeting and speaking with the right people–professionals connected with the publication–again, with the intention of learning how to write an article for your local business paper.  No matter what your goal is, writing and publishing an article or otherwise, if you network with the people who have the experience and connections to guide you toward your goal, you will be well on your way to accomplishing it.

Another example of this strategy is to think of the people involved in the six degrees of separation study.  They had a goal to achieve . . . to get a package to a specific person whom they did not know.  I would venture to suspect that the successful people in the study began by scouring their network for the right people who could help them accomplish this goal.  Choosing anyone and everyone would have increased the links along the way . . . which was obviously the strategy of the 71% of the people who never connected at all.

In summary, remember:  When you’re considering asking someone in your personal network for a favor, ask yourself whether she’s simply a contact or an actual established connection.  Avoid the trap of having unrealistic expectations of your network, such as support that your contacts may feel you don’t deserve.  You have to earn the loyalty and engagement of your referral sources.  Your current goal has two parts: (1) to meet the right people, and (2) to develop deep relationships with them over time.

So, to help you pinpoint who you should be focusing on meeting the next time you’re at a networking event, make a list of the following:

  • 5 professions (other than your own) that serve your preferred client market
  • 2 business goals of yours
  • 2 individuals you might seek out for help in accomplishing goal #1 and 2 individuals who might help you meet goal #2

How do you feel about the list you came up with?  Do you find it helpful?  Does it give you a clearer picture of where you want your business to go and who you should focus on meeting in order to steer your business in that direction?  I’d love to get your feedback on this so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  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!

 

 

Free Monthly ‘Networking Cafe’ Webinar–You’re Invited!

In this video, filmed at a recent networking conference in Nashville, TN, I talk to my good friend and partner in the Referral Institute®, Eddie Esposito, about the monthly Networking Cafe webinars we offer to the public.  These FREE monthly webinars offer invaluable information about how to grow business through networking and referral marketing and we often have guests on the webinar who are experts at helping people achieve business success.  Past guests include Jack Canfield, Michael Gerber, and Susan RoAne, among others.

These “Networking Cafe” webinars take place on the last Friday of each month and all you need to do to find out how to participate (we welcome you to ask questions during the webinar) for free is to visit the following link: http://referralinstitute.com/index.php/en-us/networking-cafe.

Thanks so much for watching this video and I really hope to interact with you on one of the upcoming webinars in the near future.  Also, if you have any suggestions for topics which you would love to have addressed on a future webinar, by all means, please leave your topic suggestions in the comment forum below–I’m  more than happy to address all valuable and relevant topics.  Thanks!

Networking Fundamentals to Boost Your Bottom Line

Today I’d like to share with you the newest networking video from the educational video archive housed within NetworkingNow.com.

Have you ever wondered what the ONE secret to success is in regard to networking for your business? In this video, I reveal the answer to that very question and I also explain four key networking fundamentals which are guaranteed to boost your bottom line.

This video is just one example of the vast array of educational content offered on the NetworkingNow.com website—there are literally hundreds of business and networking downloads available in the site’s online library and you can access all of them for FREE for six months by entering the free subscription code given below.

The free subscription is a gift from BusinessNetworking.com and all you have to do is enter the code (“freesixmonths”) on NetworkingNow.com to gain access to the entire library of content!  Please note that you will be required to enter a credit card number on the site but you will not be billed for the free six month membership subscription.  As subscriptions are based on a recurring system, you will need to end your subscription if you don’t wish to be billed for the second six months.

I always enjoy feedback from BusinessNetworking.com readers, so please leave a comment regarding your thoughts on this video and also let me know what type of downloadable content you most like to access on sites like NetworkingNow.com:

  • Video?
  • Audio?
  • PDF Articles?
  • Digital Books?
  • Something Else? If so, what specifically?

Thanks!

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