Monday, November 29, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
That’s right, some business owners have built their entire business using referral strategies. It’s now the foundation and focus of what they do every day in their business development activities. Who wouldn’t like to have an extension of your sales force that doesn’t cost you a dime on the payroll? The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has an Ambassador Committee, a group of dedicated members who commit significant chunks of their time to attending events to lend a hand in fostering connections that build relationships; relationships that in turn build your business. Each of us would kill for the chance to deploy our own ambassador committee into the marketplace, and you can with some careful, thoughtful implementation. It’s back to basics. Basics that work. Start with your existing customer base. Everyone who has walked through your door, who sits in your waiting room, who strolls down the aisles of your shop, they all have the potential to bring you more foot traffic.
Before you can leverage this group in wait, you need to earn the right to ask for referrals. Delivering on your promise of excellent experiences is the foundation of goodwill for referral development. Having the confidence to ask for a referral is a bit of a mindset, you aren’t being intrusive, or presumptuous, or over confident. Target marketing applies to your referral tactics too…be selective in who you approach, identify your champions and share with them where you’re targeting growth. Give them a customer profile, one that supports the business unit or particular service offering that requires a boost.
If you forget everything I’ve just said, etch this next nugget into your mind. Follow-up. On all fronts. If you have a lead that’s been qualified by a referral source, don’t wait until next month to connect with them. Do it now. Don’t overlook your referral source either, connect with them to let them know their help was valued. Send them a thank you card and offer a reward, they deserve it. The referral target can also be enticed with an incentive. Simple ground floor marketing tactics work very well here. Free service periods, discount cards, member rewards, limited time coupons and other call to action methods can be extremely effective.
If you haven’t dedicated at least a few hours each week to generating new business you may be speeding down the M1 towards negative growth. Build a target customer profile today, make referral tactics a priority, implement some easy tools to attract new customers and be consistent; remember your ambassadors are with you today because you’ve always been there for them. That’s why they’re now there for you.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I remember curling up on a piece of carpet and watching The Love Boat as a kid. Even as a youngster, there was something about the show that represented unknown adventure and an opportunity to explore. The idea of being a part of a cruise ship crew, traveling the world and having great new experiences wherever you would go did have a certain appeal. I never did end up as a crew member that way, but did enjoy many years at the beginning of my career both on and near the water sailing and in the cargo shipping business.
Recently, Inspire Marketing had the opportunity to stage a welcome event to accept the first passenger cruise vessel to the Port of Hamilton. You can see some great photos on our Facebook page here Just as the images convey, the celebratory day was highlighted by tremendous partnerships and participation from Tourism Hamilton, the Hamilton Waterfront Trust and the broader community of tourism stakeholders. Using the water as a gateway to the city has long been promoted as an opportunity to take the waterside view and push our harbour as a unique advantage to grow Hamilton's profile.
Among the seventy or so passengers aboard, were visitors to our city from Japan, parts of Europe and throughout the United States. Uniting to talk about the wonderful opportunities when visiting Hamilton, and to help sheppard them to experience Royal Botanical Gardens, our waterfront trail system and unique features of our downtown reminded me that we all have a responsibility to make Hamilton better. The starting point is trumpeting the positive in our community, putting our ambassador hat on and showing pride in where we come from.
The event was a great example of working together, building new relationships and enhancing those existing ones to collectively mark successful occasions and growth in our development. The power in aligning our efforts in the marketing mix finds success at every turn.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Events that engage your customers and constituents have proven they can return value multiple times that of some traditional forms of advertising. Selling something isn’t the goal. Building relationships is. The idea of sharing content, offering something freely to consumers, has become a foundation in the new marketing sphere of online communications. Parlaying this into experiential events, ripe with rich content, valuable information sharing and engagement is a necessary consideration in building your brand and winning loyalty. Integrating product placement through cross promotions enhances the experience too; partnerships and alliances can be very valuable in generating interest. Like-minded alignment translates into lifestyle association.
On equal plane is the integration of powerful online tools and the thoughtful execution and implementation of each. The lasting impression you give your audience will win you shelf space and derive more quality than any magazine’s circulation figures. See you out there.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Customers keep business rolling. Economic sustainability, growth and development for our community depends on bringing quality products or services to market to satisfy demand. Until you 'walk in the customers shoes' you can never truly understand the customer experience. At first glance, this may seem slightly too obvious. We're all on the customer end of experiences every day. The question is do we 'get it'?
Pundants of the true brand experience will most often reinforce the critical nature of defining, and more importantly, living your brand. Some of the greatest logo designs ever committed to paper don't stand up for the customer if every touch point, every experience, isn't consistent with the identity that has been created. Fostering its development takes time, energy and focus.
Earlier this year, I read Brand: It Ain't the Logo* *It's what people think of you by Ted Matthews. Its practical approach, sprinkled with a healthy dose of case study examples highlighting some of the best (and worse) major label brands, resonated with me in contemplating the direction for the team at Inspire Marketing.
Owning a unique position wins mindshare, and building your brand over time undoubtedly leads to preferential status in the mind of the customer for what you deliver to them everyday and in every way. Your brand is what you mean to your customers, and how you make them the most important focus of everything you do. Take a walk in their shoes; get comfortable, it's a long and steady walk.