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15 WAYS OTHER PEOPLE CAN PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS
Has anyone ever said to you, “If there’s anything I can do to help you with your business, let me know”? Did you respond, “Thank you. Now that you mention it, there are a few things I need”? Most likely you said, “Well, thanks, I’ll let you know.”
If you’re like most of us, you aren’t prepared to accept help at the moment
it’s offered. You let opportunity slip by because you haven’t given enough
thought to the kinds of help you need. You haven’t made the connection
between specific items or services you need and the people who can supply
them. But when help is offered, it’s to your advantage to be prepared and to
respond by stating a specific need.
Systematic referral marketing requires that you determine, as precisely as
possible, the types of help you want and need. There are many ways your
sources can help you promote yourself and your business and generate
referrals; we’ve chosen to discuss fifteen of them. Some are simple, cheap
and quick; others are complex, costly and time-consuming.
1. Display your literature and products. Your sources can exhibit your marketing materials and products in their offices or homes. If these items are displayed well, such as on a counter or a bulletin board, visitors will ask questions about them or read the information. Some may take your promotional materials and display them in other places, increasing your visibility.
2. Distribute information. Your sources can help you distribute your marketing information and materials. For example, they can include a flyer
in their mailings or hand out flyers at meetings they attend. A dry cleaner attaches a coupon from the hair salon next door to each plastic bag he uses to cover his customers’ clothing; a grocery store includes other businesses’ marketing literature in or on its grocery bags or on the back of the printed receipt.
3. Make an announcement. When attending meetings or speaking to groups, your sources can increase your visibility by announcing an event
you are involved in or a sale your business is conducting, or by setting up
exhibits of your products or services. They can also invite you to make an
4. Invite you to attend events. Workshops and seminars are opportunities to increase your skills, knowledge, visibility and contacts. Members of personal or business groups that you don’t belong to can invite you to their events and programs. This gives you an opportunity to meet prospective sources and clients.
5. Endorse your products and services. By telling others what they’ve
gained from using your products or services or by endorsing you in presentations or informal conversations, your network sources can encourage others to use your products or services. If they sing your praises on audio, on video, or in print so much the better.
6. Nominate you for recognition and awards. Business professionals and community members often are recognized for outstanding service to their profession or community. If you’ve donated time or materials to a worthy cause, your sources can nominate you for service awards. You increase your visibility both by serving and by receiving the award in a public expression of thanks. Your sources can pass the word of your recognition by word of mouth or in writing.
7. Provide you with leads. A source can help you by passing along information she hears about someone who needs the kind of product or service you provide. Following through on such leads–for example, a rumor about a new company moving into the area or a news item about the troubles another business is having–could result in new business.
8. Provide you with referrals. The kind of support you’d most like to get from your sources is, of course, referrals–names and contact information for specific individuals who need your products and services and are ready to talk to you. Sources can also help by giving prospects your name and number. As the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for increasing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.
9. Make initial contact with prospects and sources. Rather than just giving you the telephone number and address of an important prospect, a network member can phone or meet the prospect first and tell him about you. When you make contact with the prospect, he will be expecting to hear from you and will know something about you.
10. Introduce you to prospects. Your source can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you in person. She can provide you with key information about the prospect. She can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your business, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in common, and the value of your products and services.
11. Arrange a meeting on your behalf. When one of your sources tells you about a person you should meet, someone you consider a key contact, she can help you immensely by coordinating a meeting. Ideally, she will not only call the contact and set a specific date, time and location for the meeting, but she will also attend the meeting with you.
12. Follow up with referrals they have given you. Your sources can contact prospects they referred to you to see how things went after your first meeting, answer their questions or concerns, and reassure them that you can be trusted. They can also give you valuable feedback about yourself and your products or service, information that you might not have been able to get on your own.
13. Publish information for you. Network members may be able to get information about you and your business printed in publications they subscribe to and in which they have some input or influence. For example, a
source who belongs to an association that publishes a newsletter might help
you get an article published or persuade the editor to run a story about you.
14. Serve as a sponsor. Some of your sources may be willing to fund or
sponsor a program or event you are hosting. They might let you use a meeting room, lend you equipment, authorize you to use their organization’s name, or donate money or other resources.
15. Sell your products and services. Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, the one that has the greatest immediate impact on your
bottom line is selling your product or service for you. Your network member could persuade a prospect to write a check for your product, then have you mail or deliver the product to your new customer. If you do so swiftly and cordially, you may gain a new lifelong customer.
So here are 15 different ideas that you can use when someone says to you,
“Hey, is there anything I can do to help you?” One of the things I recommend is to give them this list and ask, “Are there any things on this list you would be comfortable doing for me?” By executing techniques like this, you’re thinking outside the box and you’re following up effectively with people who are willing to help you generate referrals for you business.
As you noted, some of your ideas are relatively simple and should be fairly easy to ask for. But others require much more of your source. Don’t you need to be sensitive to the nature of your relationship before requesting some of the larger favors?
You absolutely do. I recommend you take a look at the person that says
they’re willing to help you and ask yourself where you are in the relationship with them in terms of my VCP® Process – Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability. Where are you in the relationship with this person? Are you at Visibility? Do they just basically know who you are but they don’t know a lot about you? Probably not if they’ve offered their assistance. Are you at Credibility? If so, they’re going to be willing to do some of the higher end things that this list describes. Or are they at Profitability – that point at which you are helping increase each other’s business effectively. You’re both passing referrals back and forth to each other. When you’re at Profitability with someone, they’re much more likely to do one of the more difficult items than if you are at Credibility or Visibility. So sit down and figure out where you’re at in the relationship with the person before you start asking them to do something to help you grow your business.
Is reciprocity for these favors inherently assumed?
Eventually. The Social Capital Theory of the Law of Reciprocity is that people will help one another out over time. They may not be able to help you out in the same way that you can help them. But yes, the Law of Reciprocity is very powerful, particularly in relationship networking. Just don’t expect them to be able to do exactly the same thing that you may have been able to do for them. Eventually what goes around comes around and it will come back to you.
How do you suggest appropriately thanking sources who help you to promote your business?
Well first of all, treat them the way they want to be treated, not the way you think they want to be treated. In the book Truth or Delusion? I talk about this concept. The question is: Truth or Delusion? You should treat your referral sources by the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated). And the answer is: Delusion! You actually want to treat your referral sources the way they want to be treated. It’s what Dr. Tony Alessandra calls the Platinum Rule. Treat your referral sources the way they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated.
So you do want to thank your referral sources for helping you to promote your business, but you want to do it in a way that motivates them and not just something that excites you.
ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.
List five examples of how others can help promote your business.
List five people that have offered to provide help to you or others that you have built credibility with who you can now ask for help.
Schedule a “to do” on your calendar for each individual and prepare the necessary materials needed to receive help from them.