I have a client that developed a concept of affinity marketing in his business. The idea is that they were going to leverage their current business relationships - people they do business with and ask them to help in building their business. The idea was not to leverage their current clients, rather it is to leverage the people they are paying for services and ask them to help grow their business. For example; reach out to their banker and CPA to see which of their other business clients have a need for our service.
I work primarily in the disaster restoration industry so an example would be to find out the following companies or individuals currently working with my business baker: property management companies, real estate development companies, municipalities, insurance agents and companies that have significant facilities. I am going to ask my banker if they could facilitate a meeting or at least an introduction to these other business owners. They currently have a need for restoration services and are working with my competitors. I would like the opportunity to serve their restoration needs.
In order to effectively utilize this concept you need to make sure that your business is prepared to complete the work referred by your professional contacts. You will lose a lot of credibility if your production crews cannot properly fulfill the work that has been referred. This is not unique to this situation - your marketing department will encounter this situation on a daily basis so make sure that you are delivering a quality product on every job. If you are not then you need to balance the need for delivering additional work with the need to tune up your production. For the sake of this article lets assume that you are able to deliver consistent quality work.
The first Why would my banker want to do this? First let's assume that you are the type of person that your professional group would like to see successful. If that is the case then they should understand that if they help you become successful then it will help grow their business and cement their relationship with your business. Secondarily they will be able to help their other clients solve a problem that they are encountering in their business. This is one of the keys to business service groups like Rotary or Kiwanas. If you belong to a professional service group then you should be engaging in a similar marketing strategy in order to leverage your time investment in these groups.
Here is an action plan for integrating warm calls into your marketing strategy:
- Make a list of all your business affiliations and clients.
- Determine which of these have the opportunity to benefit your business. In the disaster restoration world, I would venture that all your vendors have the ability to influence the work coming to your company because they all have insurance for their homes and businesses.
- Develop a prioritized list of contacts from this exercise and then assign responsible parties in your business to talk about how they can help your business.
- Have a strategy on what your are going to ask for. A meeting, phone introduction or other form of referral.
It is interesting that you can influence your marketing without having to alter your schedule. You may already be meeting with these people so all you are adding is a question in your conversation. I suspect that most of your professional relationships have not ever thought about helping your business but would be more than happy to help - all you have to do is ask. How much additional value do you think you can add to your business by leveraging your business relationships? Do not be afraid to ask as it can change your top and bottom line substantially.