If you’re a networker like me, then you’ll know that the value of networking is in building relationships and ultimately generating opportunities from the people that you network with or their extended connections.
Having been a networker for over 10 years, I thought I knew what referrals were all about – however, I now have to say (thanks to Jacky Sherman of the Referral Institute) – “I didn’t know, what I didn’t know!”.There is so much more to realising the value of the connections you have and how you need to invest time into creating a lasting referral partnership – it won’t just happen overnight; unless you are really lucky.
The main learning point for me, is not assuming that it is obvious the type of referrals that I want and that it is my responsibility to “educate” my potential referrers to make it easier for them to identify the type of ideal prospect that I am looking for.
I am probably as guilty as most of the other people that come to my NN coNNect networking meetings in as much as I don’t make it clear as to what my target market is.
Whilst I appreciate there are many facets to any business, my experience is that most small businesses try to be all things to all people. This is so difficult for the individual business to market to everyone and even more so for a potential referrer. Maybe small businesses are fearful that if they are too narrow in their approach, they are going to lose out on opportunities – but this is a false economy.
The less specific a piece of marketing is, the less effective it is. At the end of the day “specificity sells”. Taking it to an extreme, if you know that your ideal customer is called Fred, who is between 45 and 55 years old, has been running his business for up to 5 years and has somehow lost momentum, isn’t enjoying the business any more, his turnover has plateaued at a certain level, staff are getting on his nerves and there is too much month left at the end of the money – marketing to this person by highlighting the benefits of your particular product or service to that individual’s specific needs is so much easier because the “pain points” are a lot clearer than a generic “me too” marketing campaign to the 4.8 million businesses in the UK!
Do you see where I am coming from? Maybe not!
For me, it is far more difficult to identify a potential referral for one of the members of my networking group if I am unclear as to who they would ideally like as a customer. I know this concept may sound a little odd because surely it would be easier to refer anybody rather than somebody? Well “No” actually. My brain cells are more likely to respond (for example) to an accountant or web designer or printer (or whoever) that is looking for leads into a specific industry, say IT, rather than any one who is “breathing”.
So, let’s say you only want 10 new clients this year, if you are able to “niche” your target audience and identify let’s say a 1000 potential prospects – how much more effective would your marketing be (and cheaper) focusing on a much smaller group, communicating directly to them, in their language, highlighting specific benefits that will appeal directly to them and have a higher possibility of getting some interest in what you are offering.
Worth thinking about? I think so! About time you looked at how you generate referrals for your business.