3 Of the Best Offline Business Development Strategies

There are multitudes of marketing strategies, both online and offline.

However, the very best and most effective strategies, which you have the most control over, are those that target your ideal clients directly.

Think of these two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You purchase a list of 1,000 contacts that meet your criteria of an ideal client profile. Think about marketing to that list of 1,000 names.

Scenario 2: Be really specific in who you would like as a client, and do the research and draw up a list of five or ten companies and the names of the appropriate people inside them you would like to work with.
Think about marketing to those ten people – to Jane, and Mark, and Jeff, and Sally and…

Doesn’t having a very clear picture of who you are marketing to make you hone in on what your messages need to be? Why would those people want or need to work with you? Why is your solution the right one for them? Why would they choose you over other businesses?

Visualising the people you want to market to, versus a nameless ‘list’ will definitely improve your chances of success. If you use all or some of these strategies, you will be able to market to your selected five or ten people directly and personally.

The concept of directly marketing to your ideal client applies equally for B2C marketing, but the execution and scale will obviously vary. This example focuses more on B2B marketing.

Strategy 1: Referrals – But Not a ‘System’

There are many ways to do this as a ‘system’, but my personal preference is to ask for referrals and introductions from clients who love you.

Turning referrals into a ‘system’ has an air of entitlement, and I don’t think that contributes to good business practice. I know that when people hand me a deck of cards (yes, a deck… could be their business cards or cards with a special introductory offer) and ask me to give them out to people, it usually bothers me. On the one hand, I feel a sense of obligation, simply because I’ve been asked, and on the other hand, I feel that the relationship has been ‘violated’ in some way because I now have an onus of obligation by receiving the cards!!

I don’t need cards to refer people to new business opportunities. I do it all the time. A personal referral is far more compelling than handing someone a card with a special offer – I think.

If you ask clients and connectors who love you, if they could refer you to someone who has a business or challenges ‘just like theirs’, you have a far greater chance of being introduced to a really great contact who could become a prospect.

By turning a personal form of marketing into a ‘system’ with expectations and an onus of obligation on others, in my opinion, is not the way to do it.

Done the right way, with the right people, this is a great strategy to connect directly and personally with the right people.

Strategy 2: Outreach to Specific Targets

As outlined above in scenarios one and two, an outreach program is likely to have more impact when you have more control over who your target market is. If you think in terms of specific contacts, you can then start thinking about how you reach out to those individuals in those companies to introduce yourself and your business. You can see them in their office; you can develop a sense of what they would respond to and what sort of communication would have the most impact.

When you draw up your list of ten, let’s say, be clear about the industry or niche they are in, the size of the business, their challenges, and think about the real fears and frustrations of the people you want to target.

When you have that information, you can start to craft your message:

  • what do you need to say to get their attention
  • what do you want them to know about you
  • what do you want them to do?

You have complete control over who you contact and how you reach them. Learn as much about them as you can before you prepare your marketing campaign.

There are many ways to implement an outreach program, including the next strategy. Typically, it includes mail (email or direct mail pieces via postal mail), phone, in person follow up, special offers, invitations and calls to action (you want your prospects to do something once you’ve contacted them).

My final piece of advice on this strategy is this: what would work for you? What have people done in the past to get past the gatekeeper and get to you (in a good way, not in a way that has a negative impact on you)? Use this as a screening test for your program strategy, before you send out the first piece of your outreach program.

Strategy 3: Host Your Own Events

When you host, you have control over the guests, the format, the selling and marketing around it. That’s what makes this such a great strategy.

Reasons for an event:

  • a celebration of something
  • a launch of something (product, service, alliance, new business unit, book, etc)
  • calendar events: end of financial year, Spring Racing Carnival (for those in Melbourne), Grand Final Eve (for those now in all states of Australia), Christmas, etc.
  • Entertainment – speaker, entertainer, music etc
  • Social – good food, good wine, good group of people, music, fun

Keys to remember:

  • The purpose is to make new contacts and likely prospects
  • Ask your guests to invite a friend or colleague who may be interested in knowing your company or other guests (if you ask the right clients and connectors to do this, they’ll bring the right kinds of guests for you to meet. You don’t want someone to bring the junior from their office – because that doesn’t achieve your goals as host).
  • The goal is to create a great experience for your known guests, as well as your new guests, and send the right messages to the people you are trying to get to know and turn into prospects
  • Do it well – don’t skimp, make it a quality event, and again do the ‘test’ – ask yourself if you’d have fun if you were a guest.

Offline strategies are always required as part of your overall marketing program.

Small Business Development – It’s Time To Dream!

As I have written in the past, if you build your business around your core values you will attract like-minded people in the form of customers, business partners, and employees.

This month we have the opportunity to reflect on the core values of one Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered for so many incredible and positive things, but it is his, “I have a dream!” speech that we think of most.

His speech is the culmination of one man’s wonderful example of understanding what you believe, working towards that end, and attracting like-minded people to support you in your quest to serve the greater good.

There is another lesson here for us to reflect on. Martin Luther King’s life’s work was from the perspective of service, not of sales. In other words, everything he said, thought and accomplished was to “serve” the people he was meant to serve.

His life was not about personal gain (how can I sell more, earn more, grow more, etc.), but rather how much more can I help others (customers, employees, stakeholders, community) live better lives. His “I have a Dream” speech talks about his vision of the future where everyone is better served – not just African-Americans.

To facilitate the transition to wealth, one must stop chasing sales, and customers, but look for more opportunities to serve the people you are meant to serve. Martin Luther King reminded us that our gifts are not for us. the gifts we have are to serve the greater good. In the same light, your business is not for you. It is for the greater good of the people you are meant to serve. You are the conduit that moves your idea into reality for the people you serve, and going forward for the people they serve and ultimately for the greater good of all.

I urge you to spend some time considering the people you are meant to serve, and stop thinking of ways to sell them more, but rather ways to serve them more. If you focus on the many ways you can contribute to their greater good, you will never have to worry about “selling” them more.

Do you have a dream? What is the dream you have for your business? More importantly, what is the dream you have for the people you are meant to serve? (hint: pretend there are no limits to what you can do – because there aren’t.)

Small Business Development – Creating Avenues For New Jobs

In these hard economic times, there is need to be creative in terms of looking for a supplementary source of income to our salaries. Developing a small business may be a good point to start from. By so doing, one will also create job opportunities for the jobless youths. This is especially true if the person setting up the venture is not able to run the enterprise alone.

Small businesses create avenues for new jobs for people who get laid off from the formal employment sector year in year out. The government, having realized this, has even set up an agency; Small Business Administration, that helps individuals develop such enterprises. It does so by extending loan facilities to the entrepreneurs and giving then technical advice on how to run the ventures.

Small Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) are therefore on the rise today. They fall under many categories and a just to describe a few, there is the survivalist enterprise which operates in the informal sector and is run by the unemployed persons. The income generated is below the poverty line and hence it only meets the basic needs of the operators.

Another example is the Micro enterprise. This one is usually rum by family members, who must not exceed five in total. It also operates informally, meaning that no license is required. Unlike the survivalist enterprise, the micro enterprise requires one to have at least basic skills of running an enterprise. It also holds a great potential of turning into a viable formal small venture.

Social Networking As a Business Development Tool

Social Networking can be leveraged as an innovative opportunity to generate new business and drive sales. It generates opportunities that are additional to, and supportive of the results of more traditional selling methodologies. It does this by leveraging the capabilities and characteristics of social media platforms to virally propagate the personal and product identity of the agent. It significantly increases the capability of existing clients to deliver high quality leads and introductions while effectively distributing the work associated maintaining multiple relationships over time.

Socially networked selling becomes particularly powerful when targeting customers in technical and start-up companies where familiarity with social network platforms is the greatest. This community is already sharing information and insights within this space as well as using it to organize, communicate and create face to face networking opportunities. The agent can develop a virtual identity that exponentially increases his exposure and visibility within his targeted community. This identity will take on the characteristics of an actual brand and, as such, can be search engine optimized, shared, re-tweeted and otherwise rewarded for quality products and services that are well delivered. Face to face networking is supplemented by its digital footprint in communities like Twitter, Facebook and Plancast and allows for the establishment of relationships to validate the highly mobile, virtual identity.

Of course bad news travels as quickly as good but the real relationship that is established by the agent and the client mitigates the risk of negative press and allows for effective issue tracking and trouble shooting within a highly transparent and real time virtual environment.