The Referral Network

I met with a client once that was interested in getting their primary sales vehicle tuned up. It was a letter they sent to prospects. Seems that it worked very well at one time and then stopped working.

Not being familiar with their product or reasons why people would consider doing business with them just from a letter, I had to ask a lot of questions. Questions like,

  • Who gets the letter?
  • What’s the demographic profile of those who acted after receiving the letter?
  • What was their reasons for buying
  • Have you ever sold to people who didn’t get a letter?
  • Do you follow up on the phone with people that got the letter?

I was able to quickly determine something very important from these few questions. Almost every reason for doing business with my client was preceded by a need to do business with another business as well. So while he had been out prospecting with his letter, he was missing out on building a referral network with businesses who could be sending him prequalified leads.

The path of least resistance in sales is a referred prospect. In my client’s case, businesses in his referral network actually needed their prospect to buy his services before they could sell them theirs. He removed a big sales obstacle for them. But these businesses had grown accustomed to simply waiting for their prospects to deal with this obstacle on their own and then return. They were not empowered to speed up the process or assist in any way. But being able to refer prospects to my client made them empowered to not only help themselves but to also help the prospects by giving them a trusted means to address their immediate need (the obstacle) as well.

After a brief introduction and comparing of notes, each member of my client’s referral network will get monthly visits, phone calls, emails, mailed hand-written reminders and/or cookie platters reminding them that my client is ready and able e to help them close their sales more easily.

So, yes. I was being asked to fine-tune a sales letter, something I was happy to do. But the referral network I designed will create more activity than that letter could ever hope to.

Are you taking advantage of referral network opportunities? Do your prospects have an obstacle you could help them address with a referral? Sometimes referrals can come from anyone which is why business referral networks can be very valuable sources of new leads.

Share your referral stories in the comments.


Credit unions need to rise up and be ready for “Bank Transfer Day”

Occupy Wall Street has been all the rage for weeks so I don’t think I need to say more about that. But there’s no real commercial winners or losers except for the poor merchants whose front doors face the makeshift campgrounds. But more recently, and maybe a little less known, is a movement culminating this November 5th called Bank Transfer Day that may make prepared credit unions big winners.

Like OWS, BTD is rooted in an emotionally driven social media foundation. It has over a thousand twitter followers and over 25,000 followers on Facebook.

Mainstream media has started to acknowledge the groundswell of interest in this . So are the credit unions reacting? I did a quick scan to see which of local credit unions are doing anything specifically geared towards BTD or if they are open on Saturdays as a regular course of business and here’s what I found:     Continue reading “Credit unions need to rise up and be ready for “Bank Transfer Day””

Is your website broken? 3 common mistakes.

A quick search in Google, Bing or Yahoo! can tell you if your web site is taking advantage of the millions of searches being conducted each day.

A lot of businesses have bought a domain and used some build-a-website-quickly tools in order to be found online. As a result, their websites look nice but don’t come anywhere near doing what they need to do, attract prospects. But some of the most commonly missing pieces can be easily found and fixed. They are:    Continue reading “Is your website broken? 3 common mistakes.”

Don’t waste your time and money on marketing

Source: sugarmonster via Flickr

I’m a cheapskate by nature. That means while I may miss a good opportunity now and then because it is too expensive, it also means I always gravitate towards the most effective and efficient marketing methods. That’s what I do for my clients in an effort to gain them Fortune 500 visibility and strategy on a mom-and-pop store budget. Even back in the days when I sold advertising, if I thought the client was asking me to waste their money (e.g. when they’d say, “Let’s run a couple ads and see what happens”), I preferred to forgo the commission than to be party to wasting their money.

This rationale is behind the design and pricing of one of the first Continue reading “Don’t waste your time and money on marketing”

Magical QR Codes and Your Marketing

I have been asked about QR codes a few times now so maybe it’s time to put it out for public discussion.

First, what the heck is a QR code? If you understand store scanners you probably have some idea. In short it is a symbolic means of making information available to someone equipped with the ability to scan the symbol. QR codes differ from bar codes in their ability to hold more information, greater scanning accuracy and a smaller footprint.

So now that we know that a QR code connects people, who have scanning ability, to information, the question is begged, how can these be used to increase the customer experience?  Continue reading “Magical QR Codes and Your Marketing”

Would you know if your customers were being ignored?

Quick, show of hands, how many of you would be comfortable leaving your store unattended while you were out making deliveries? No one? Hmmm… interesting, because that’s pretty much the equivalent of what so many companies are doing right now.

A very interesting article gave the following real world example (I’ve seen this happen time and time again):

John [customer] is irritated because he dialed in to a customer support department and was put on hold for 30 minutes. No one ever answered his call. He goes to the brand’s Facebook page and leaves a comment expressing his anger. No response. He then tweets at the brand’s Twitter profile. No response. So he writes a blog post criticizing the heck out of the brand and shares it all over the social Web. Still no response.

This situation really resonated with me since it is one of the very dangerous scenarios we protect our clients from with Whatcom Marketing’s Social Media Management services. We monitor for online comments, both praise and criticisms, and respond to ensure the customers’ needs are recognized and depending on our clients’ instructions, handle the issue (“We are so sorry to hear of your experience. Your account has been refunded.”) or assure the customer that they’ve been heard and a response is forthcoming (“We are so sorry to hear of your experience. We’re going to have someone in charge contact you right away.”).

Are you leaving your store unattended and customers ignored? Locking them out isn’t an option. Call us today.


The most powerful marketing tool

Now that companies are able to quickly and widely communicate with their markets through a multitude of inexpensive channels, would you be surprised to learn most still fail to use the most powerful marketing weapon in their arsenal?

It’s sitting there, ready to be deployed and doesn’t cost anything. Most know of it, use it in casual conversation but when it comes to promoting products and services they fail to reach for it.

Continue reading “The most powerful marketing tool”

Fear of Social Media

You’ve read for years now that your company should be engaging in social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and “participating in the conversation.” But that means sometimes encountering someone who will call you names while saying your service sucks and your policies are so bad that your business should be boycotted. Who would want that, right?

Having to participate in conversations where you or staff represent your company and everyone else can be anonymous is an unfair playing field. You want to be positive and professional while they can call you names and make baseless accusations. Run, run away fast, seems to be the best advice. Continue reading “Fear of Social Media”