I was reflecting on a video I saw of a hand with sand going through the fingers and could not help thinking about how many leads, opportunities to expand our reach, grow our areas of influence and build our networks, we allow to simply slip through our fingers. It made me consider one of my two 2020 Bestsellers, Your Business Your Way: A Unique Perspective on Business Development and the tips and strategies I shared to prevent this from happening in these challenging times. I have therefore included pages 61-67 of this book in this article and hopes it helps.
"The best way to stay visible in a credible way is to have others shouting about you. Yes, you have to have your social media and marketing strategies cleverly mapped out, but these are only part of the plan and not nearly as effective as others spreading the word about you or you being seen in the right places and with the right people. One strategy is getting to know key networking event organisers and offering to help them with the events, sometimes by simply greeting, signing people in or introducing speakers. You will immediately add a level of credibility to your image in the eyes of other attendees. People will naturally assume you are a person of influence and worth knowing. Here are some other ways you can get referrals, build credibility and enhance visibility!
It is simple. If you do not ask and do so quickly, it will not happen! I always suggest that on social media, we GIVE recommendations first as that usually prompts people to respond with one for you. It is a lot easier to get them motivated in this way, than a text or phone call requesting a review. Of course, you need to be sure they are happy with your services first as a bad or lack lustre review is not beneficial. If someone is happy with your service and excitedly tells you about it, ask them for the review immediately. Do not lose the moment. If they are busy people, why not write the review and send it to them for approval?
2. Do something ordinary in an EXTRA-ordinary way
What do I mean by that? Well everyone is ‘parading’ themselves online at the moment. We are all jostling for that same space, for the same audience and for the same thing…getting noticed! However, it seems like much of the same most of the time. It becomes monotonous. For example, we all have become ‘gurus’, posting inspirational quotes all over social media. I am just as guilty and it has its place. The ones who will cause us to stop mid-scroll and pay attention are the ones who are either doing something extraordinary or look interesting. You may have the most incredible content to share but, make no mistake, no one will listen if it does not have an edge. This kind of edge almost always comes from a unique personal, innovative and creative slant, which is either never-before or rarely seen. You know I am right. Think of the last thing that stopped you mid-scroll on social media, or the last speaker you heard which you cannot get out of your head. Get your thinking caps on guys! Let us dig deep into ourselves and come up with unique and show stopping ways we can get seen! If you are struggling with this, get help. Find an expert who will help you to pull to the forefront all that you have inside, package it as uniquely you and then serve it up HOT!
3. Build a referral funnel
Create a referral form. One easy method of getting referrals is offering a commission, although not everyone is motivated by money; there are still a lot of people who are happy to refer you if you have taken the time to WOW them as I mentioned earlier. However, it is always good to reward them in some way as they have put their name on the line by referring you. The best reward you can give is ensuring the referred customer gets the best service ever! Try to strike the balance between novel and gimmicky when coming up with ideas. It takes time and effort, but it’s worthwhile getting a great set of incentives together.
Some methods of incentivising referral partners are:
• If you are a consultant, offering a free session is an idea
• Discounts on your service
• Rewards – these should not exceed 15% of revenue earned from the referral • Invite them to events and provide full hospitality
• Sponsor an event of theirs
• Donate to their charity Think of how you can put an interesting spin on these basic methods.
Here is another idea: why not set up a podcast? There are so many free apps online. Invite your referral partners and key contacts with a non-competing business to be showcased on your podcast. Place this podcast on social media. They will be grateful. They will share it with their audience and you will get noticed in a good way. You can do the same with video interviews using Stream yard or Zoom. Getting these positive interviews on all social media platforms immediately exposes you to your guests’ network and widens your audience. It also enhances your credibility. Our current clients, as I said earlier, are our best advertising tools. Keep building relationships with them. Continue to find out if there are ways you can help them. They will be your best supporters and will no doubt tell others about you. Also, do not be afraid to ask them if they know anyone else that needs your support. This question is best posed just after the sale, or when you have completed a great job for them and they are exuding satisfaction. That moment is golden. Ask for referrals then. Write them down and act fast.
4. Use your website as a referral tool For example, you can add buttons such as:
• Click here to earn rewards
• Invite your colleagues
• Forward to a colleague
Of course, it is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to these strategies. Remember it is ‘Your Business, Your Way’. Your business and your website might not suit this method, but you can find clever tools to capture the data of visitors to your website and follow up with them in an ingenious way. One less used referral and visibility tool on your website is hosting the interviews with other experts or podcasts you create with other non-competing experts. This will drive traffic from their followers to your website and showcase YOU and what you do. Website testimonials Detailed testimonials about your service delivery are very useful and are great advertising. I suggest we constantly update our websites with our testimonials. Photos and videos are a great touch. Remember the ‘givers gain’ concept and offer to put a testimonial with photo etc. on someone else’s website. If they are amenable to it, you could add your logo and a link through to your website and vice versa. Video testimonials for others are a great visibility strategy and please use testimonials everywhere such as your website, brochures, social media and voicemails.
5. Track referrals
• Know what works. Nowadays useful marketing tools exist to track performance of most online marketing strategies. Get in touch with an innovative and switched on marketing team, as they will be able to use links to track performance on your websites. Facebook also has pixels you can add to your website that allow you to not only track performance but also to capture data for subsequent follow up and loyalty building.
• Target top performing customers and referrers and keep finding ways to keep them happy. Find out what makes them tick and give them more of the same.
• Remember ‘givers gain’ and be a referrer yourself. Never be seen as someone who takes with nothing ever going out from your end to your business community.
It is sometimes as simple as:
• Sharing other business colleagues’ posts on social media
• Liking and commenting when your colleague gets a good review online
• Sharing on social media how much you enjoyed an event hosted by a colleague or a book someone wrote or a talk they gave
Finally, I would like to encourage you that, in the pursuit of establishing your vision in a credible way and building a visible brand of which you can be proud, you have to be committed to consistency. There is no quick fix and all the strategies need to work seamlessly and simultaneously. There are some constants, which you need to employ to remain ‘top of mind’ in the marketplace. Nothing will take the place of daily phone calls or emails to follow up on ‘warm’ leads. We need to spend at least one hour each week researching social media and other key sectors for leads. We should be aiming to add at least three new contacts per day to our CRM system and should invite someone to an event once a week. As I said earlier, catch up with old clients (I suggest at least five per week) and let them know you are available. Help build your credibility and visibility with philanthropy. Volunteer and engage in charitable causes. Show up at a high visibility event at least once a week or as often as possible. I used to be accused of being up for going to the opening of an envelope - I will take that! Have lunch or a coffee with an influencer, a referrer or collaborator at least once a week. In other words, keep busy, be consistent and be strategic. I must underscore that all these activities must be carried out with integrity, honesty, authenticity and a good dose of personality!"
As I said in my book, a lot of the advice is not novel. Some of them will not suit all business types. This s a simple guide which I hope there is at least one thing for someone reading this. You might find it incredible value or more of the same for you but whatever you do, do not leave your visibility and referral funnels to chance. Create a strategy and stick to it!