February 24, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Build Partnerships

When you go to a networking event, you meet people that you may have not met before. You also meet people whom you may have seen before but don’t really know. You may spend 5 – 10 minutes in conversation with these people and learn only a small portion of what you should know about them, their ideas, and their beliefs. Of course, you may know something about their business, but how much can you learn about how their business operates.

After meeting someone at a networking event, you need to determine if you want to advance to forming a relationship or partnership with the other person. In order to do that you must meet one-on-one with the other person and see how that meeting progresses. People do business with others that they know, like, and trust. They also refer business to others that they know, like, and trust. How can you know someone until you meet with them and discover more about them, their business, and what type of person they really are?

Meeting someone one-on-one is imperative for you to start building a relationship or business partnership. When you build a relationship the right way, you will be rewarded by either gaining a client, a referral, or both. Your clients should be happy clients, willing to offer you referrals who can benefit from becoming your clients. If someone cannot become your client they should determine from your mutual partnership that they can pass referrals to you. Of course, this relationship should work the same way in reverse.

Referrals are the life blood of any business and are based on mutual trust of the parties involved. You must trust both parties involved when you refer anyone to anyone else. That trust is determined when you build relationships with others and want to help their businesses succeed. That relationship is built when you get to know them and determine that you like them, and then it blossoms into trust as the relationship or partnership develops. It grows from that initial meeting and then meeting one-on-one.

No matter what you have to market, no matter how wonderful or great your product or service is, and no matter how reasonable the price may be, no one should purchase what you offer if they don’t need it. They probably will never become your client unless they plan to give your product or service as a gift to someone else. These partners should become referral sources for you, but you will never have the benefit of a relationship with them unless you meet one-on-one and get to know each other. Establishing a networking relationship can be rewarding to both of you in so many ways, but you need to take the initial step to meet, get to know each other, and see if the relationship will grow with trust.

Give that first meeting at a networking event an opportunity to grow. If you don’t, you may always wonder what you may have missed. Your next client may be just around the corner. Your next great referral might be hiding in the list of friends or neighbors of that person who you met last week at that networking event that you just happened to attend. Still have those business cards that you collected? Give those individuals a call and see if you can meet them and get to know them. Then see if you can form a relationship that will reward both of you.

Please leave me your thoughts on this practice, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your ideas. Who knows, maybe the next person whom you meet may be a person whom you get to know, like, and trust as much as they do you.

February 17, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Why No Referrals?

In the past we have discussed the ways that we can build our businesses through the referrals of our partners, whether they are clients or not. These referrals are the result of our relationships that we have with these partners and how they view us, our business practices, and our performance in the world around us. How can we stop this referral flow that breathes life into our businesses? How do we literally commit business suicide?

Our current clients are the best sources of referrals for new business for us. Current clients should be happy and satisfied and believe that we are the best source of whatever it is that we furnish to our clients. We must provide a quality product or service for a reasonable price, through an appealing, enjoyable buying process. If our current clients are not happy about the buying process, our product or service, and the price that they paid, we have some work to do in these areas immediately, in order to obtain referrals from these unhappy clients.

After the buying process, do we forget about our clients and ignore them? Some business owners believe that once they have sold whatever they offer they do not need to pay any attention to that customer. Why should they do more; the customer has their purchase, and their check cleared the bank? This attitude would be shortsighted and ignorant on our part. If our clients believe that they are taken for granted they will take us for granted not offering referrals of other business partners.

When we are out of sight of our clients, we are out of their minds. We need to make sure that our clients remember us, remember our names, and know that we know theirs. If we do not know the names of our clients, and they cannot remember ours, we will never receive referrals from these clients. Clients must be reminded of who we are, what we offer, and how we treat everyone. Then, those referring clients will know that we will offer that same experience to others and that those new clients will be equally happy with the process.

Our current clients should be a great source of free, unbiased advertising for our businesses. If they are happy with the buying experience that they had, they will be glad to send us more and more of their acquaintances to us to receive that same experience. If they forget who we are, and we let them forget, we will not receive referrals. We must constantly “touch” our clients, reminding them that we care about them. Appreciation Marketing shows our clients that we actually appreciate their business, that we care about their existence and current state of life, and that we serve our clients’ needs, no matter what they may be.

Appreciation of our clients is so much stronger, and rewarding, than our telling everyone how great we are. Instead, we should tell our clients how great they are, how much we appreciate them and their business, and how much their lives mean to everyone else. Congratulate them on the events in their lives, their accomplishments, and their actions toward others. Celebrate the anniversary of their continued business, their contributions to the world in general. Don’t offer them a new, more expensive upgrade; give them a pat on the back.

How do you use positive praise in your business? Do your clients believe that you care about them after the sale, or do you remind then how much they mean to you? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your practices. There are lots of ways to kill the flow of referrals to us. Realizing the adverse result of some of our practices allows us to alter those practices and change the future of our success. It’s up to you what you do.

February 10, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – The Failed Referral

Referrals are the backbone of success for any company. We all strive to build our businesses so that others will refer people to us. These referral sources may be friends, neighbors, family, clients, prospects, or just casual acquaintances. This practice of referrals is great for everyone involved, and there are benefits all round. When you refer anyone to someone else, you have placed your reputation on the line with both parties. If the referral does not work well for either party, what responsibility do you have as the referring party?

People do business with, and refer business to, others that they know, like, and trust. This philosophy works well if we really know both parties in the referral process. If you are referring Sally to Fred, and you know both Sally and Fred in depth, you should decide whether you like them and trust them. If the referral goes bad through some fault of the two parties, is the referral your fault for not vetting them first?

What happens when we may not know one, or both, of the parties in the referral? We all have been in a group of people when someone asks if anyone knows someone who provides a specific product or service. If we do know someone, do we immediately pass on the referral information to both parties, or do we attempt to try to qualify the parties to see if we really want to pass their information to each other?

I personally believe that there is a point where the referring party does not qualify the prospect for someone to whom he may be referring this person. In our example, how far do you proceed to qualify Sally and Fred to see if they are a match for the referral. I also believe that the circumstances in each case may make your work more detailed or less, given the situation and the original question that lead up to the referral.

If you are on an electronic bulletin board, and you ask for a plumber, I may give you someone’s name and contact information without getting the details of who you are and how you do business. I believe that the plumber that I give to you should do some qualification of you before proceeding too far in the process. Likewise, you should do the same to qualify the plumber and his business principles.

What happens when the referral has been given, and it failed? One or more of the parties is not happy with the outcome. What responsibility do you have as the referring party to attempt to help the two parties come to a mutually satisfying resolution? Do you have a responsibility at all? I believe that it depends on the people involved, the circumstances of the referral, the background of how you know these two parties, and the follow-up after the referral.

Did you guarantee the work of either party or what each would bring to the table? Did you guarantee the performance or payment of either party? Did you have a controlling part in the process of the transaction? These are all very valid questions, and all of them have different shades of definition depending on the transaction involved.

Have you ever had a referral fail for any reason, and what did you do as a result? How far do you go to qualify each and every referral that you give? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your thoughts. While referrals can be the backbone of business success, they may backfire on the parties involved. Remember that nothing is certain, and you should give feedback to those who refer business to you so that their referrals can become slam-dunk clients. Then thank them for the referral.

February 3, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – The 3 P’s

There are 3 P’s that are the foundation of Appreciation Marketing. First is being Professional, coupled with our Passion, and capped by staying Personal in our dealings with clients. How do these 3 P’s impact our business marketing? They can improve our bottom line by turning customers into clients, clients who will remain loyal and refer business to us because we have made the 3 P’s a substantial foundation for our businesses.

We have all met those people who conduct their business as if it was a hobby, which in fact it is. These people are an insult to all of us business people who run our business as a business, professionally. Being professional means we are honest, ethical, have great client service, and build relationships with as many people as possible. We are supportive, loyal, and reputable. Never do business with anyone who does not conduct their business professionally. Run your business, no matter what it is, as a business.

We all must operate our business with the passion that will show to the rest of the world that we believe in what we do and have pride in doing what we do. If we don’t believe, and show that belief and pride, our prospects, and any customers that we have, will know that we don’t really believe in what we do, the product or service that we have, or what it should mean to others. We must be a product of our product or service. If we don’t actually use what we market, no one else will. They may even consider us to be frauds.

Finally, we must be personal with other people. This includes treating everybody as a person, a human being, and as a valuable part of our lives, not just part of our businesses. Stop looking at others for what they can spend with us and see what we can do for them. Give to give, not to get. When we put service to others before our profits, karma will bring goodness to us and our businesses. Turn customers into clients through appreciation for what they do for us, for others, and for the world in general. The money will follow our gratitude.

We all need to take a look at ourselves and our businesses and see how these 3 P’s can apply to us. How have we slacked off from what caused us to be in business originally; how has our demeanor and behavior changed since we started out businesses; how do we view prospects, customers, and everyone else? Can we honestly say that we are professional in all that we do and say? Are we a product of our product or service? Can we say that we treat everyone in a personal manner, as people, not as customer numbers?

Appreciation Marketing means that we are professional in the eyes of the public and in our own opinion. Can we look ourselves in the mirror and say that we are truly professional? Does our passion for our businesses show to others? Do we speak with sincere enthusiasm about our businesses? Do we relate to others as people or as sources of money? Appreciation Marketing means that our customers are clients, not customers, and that we can explain the difference in the two terms.

If we must make the 3 P’s the foundation of our businesses, karma will bring similar people into our lives. We will find ourselves basking in the light of others who believe the same as we do, making all of our businesses more successful. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your thoughts. Remember the 3 P’s and how they can help us and then tell someone else how they can benefit also from applying them themselves.