joint venture marketing
Evan Sohn, a Business Networking Specialist from New York shares his insights on how to attract new clients for your business.
All businesses share the challenge of finding new business. We recently conducted a survey of 700 small businesses. 43 percent of them needed to add over 10 new clients a year. It should come as no surprise that $90 billion is being spent by businesses in the US to grow (American Marketing Association). $20 billion is being spent in online marketing alone. The common marketing portfolio for a company includes advertising (online and offline), public relations, event marketing (tradeshows), client marketing (referrals) and telemarketing (cold calling). An effective marketing strategy will employ multiple initiatives under these areas targeting their customer/prospect segments. Each of these items is important (in different varying levels) to achieve marketing results. But, is there a way to achieve consistent marketing results without having the budget of a Cisco or a Microsoft?
Having been in technology marketing for nearly 20 years, I have seen various marketing methods emerge and some fall to the waste side (does anyone remember direct mail?). The Internet has also provided alternative marketing methods by establishing new channels to targeted customers. Our survey pointed out that most small business are not only concerned about getting good results from their marketing campaigns but are also concerned with high upfront costs of specific marketing campaigns. With this in mind, here are ten low cost and low risk ways to drive new clients for your business. By the way, it goes without saying that you have a clean web site that provides enough of a user experience regarding your service and easy links to the appropriate calls-to-action.
The top ten low cost and low risk ways to drive new clients for your business:
1. Client Referrals
Your path of least resistance to new customers is often from your existing client base. Assuming you are delivering quality work, getting a client to refer another client often happens without even asking. So why not ask? Put together a campaign to drive new client referrals offering incentives to your existing clients. Perhaps make a donation to their favorite charity, or discount on your service or even cash! Be prudent in tracking client referrals as it is likely that your best referrals will originate from the same set of clients. Always send thank you notes although I recommend David’s Cookies or Dale and Thomas Popcorn (a real office pleaser).
2. Blog yourself
While I know I am merely inviting you to join the myriad of people out there who are sharing their views, opinions and thoughts via the web it really is a good way to get the word out there. Blogger and WordPress are two free Blog site that make it really easy to set up and publish your blogs. Blog regularly and more importantly make sure you publish your blog on your social network pages. Blogs are often tapped right into the search engines so even by doing nothing you are getting the word out there. (Check our Fastpitch Networking Blog promotion tools.)
3. Inverse Public Relations
Have you ever read an article online and seen a trail of comments and responses to the article? Well why not do that yourself (assuming you have something interesting to add). If you are a subject matter expert (and even if you are not) why not add your two cents to topical articles. Include a link to your Blog or your web site in the response. Of course it is self promotion but it is promotion nonetheless.
4. Socialize yourself online
Word of mouth is always a great way to drive new business. Working ones rolodex was often the terminology for the art of taking out ones rolodex and “dialing for dollars” – reaching out to your contacts to see who might be able to refer some business. Social networking and moreover professional networking has added a whole new dimension to managing ones rolodex. Networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook as well as niche professional networks such as BizNik and Fastpitch make it easy to establish an online profile and provide good tools for reaching out to your network. Join a group on Facebook or set up a live event on Biznik.
5. Face-to-face networking
Although there is a fee for the more popular networking groups they are a great way to meet other professionals all of whom are interested not in sharing photos or videos but in growing their businesses. There are online versions of these groups such as Network for Professionals and a number of Meetup groups. Start a Meet up or join one inviting everyone to happy hour (on you of course). You’ll be certain to draw a nice crowd of likeminded professionals.
6. Web site optimization
Having a web site without it being optimized for search engines is like having an unlisted telephone number – both are bad for business. You need to make sure that people could find you. Go to Guru.com or eLance and find an expert in SEO (search engine optimization) and pay some money to make sure that your web site is posted across the internet.
If you don’t have the stomach to deploy a PPC campaign and wade through all the unqualified leads and responses why not look into a pay-for-performance model. These are also called CPA or cost per acquisition. Usually the vendor will determine the price per successful lead acquisition. This could be paying only for leads that complete a registration process for instance. Salesconx.com (self promotion) also employs a pay-for-performance model which allows the buyer (the marketer or business) to establish the price for being introduced to a potential customer. Salesconx has one advantage over current CPA provides insofar as having no minimum commitments. This lets you get up and running very easily, quickly and inexpensively to closely monitor your return on investment.
8. Share the Wealth (Partnering)
Aligning yourself with another company is a great way to “double up” on your sales efforts. If you providing expertise in X and a likely other vendor of your customer provides Y why not partner up with that company. Create an incentive for the other company such as a percentage of revenue generated. You could share clients and create targeted marketed programs reaching out to both your client bases. Maybe deliver a unified presentation or online seminar to draw the synergies of both your companies. This is generally an easy initiative to ‘kick off’ but often a bit harder to deliver in full. To make a partnership successful requires investment (mostly of time) so be patient. Keep in mind that your object is to add N new clients from this partner. So as long as you are meeting your objective it is certainly worth the time and money.
9. Expert yourself
Assuming you are knowledgeable in a certain field why not make your expertise available to others ‘free of charge’? For example, if you are a Tax specialist why not offer your community church or local library a free communal lecture on “Tips and Traps for Tax Preparations”. Many organization and institutions are regularly looking for topical content and experts so why not offer these folks your services. My mother was an interior designer in her own practice and started out by writing articles for the local paper on low cost decorating tips. If you are in the health sector try the local gym – they regularly have evening informational classes. Local chambers of commerce also have periodic meetings are often seek panel representatives. Any opportunity for you to speak in front of an audience where you look like an expert in your field is a solid opportunity.
10. Independent sales reps
If you believe that your product or service is easy to understand and relatively straightforward to sell, why not recruit selling professionals that are paid only on commissions. It wasn’t too long ago that most sales representatives were independent and there are presently 2.4 million independent sales representatives in the US alone. Granted most of these folks aren’t selling synergistic products/services but, it does demonstrate just how many folks out there make their money solely through sales. Try placing an advertisement in Craig’s list for independent sales reps in your industry or marketplace and see what happens. It does require a good of time to train and manage independent folks but getting a few more clients into the pipeline thru a commission only source is certainly worth the effort.
christian fea is CEO of Synertegic, Inc. A joint venture marketing firm. He exemplifies how to profit from Joint Venture relationships by creating profit centers with minimal risk and maximum profitability.
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