Would a referral program work for your business?

What incentives do you offer for referrals?

Now I am not saying that you have to offer bonuses or commissions to people who pass new clients your way, but I imagine that by doing so you will find a few more people who start thinking about it more seriously and being more proactive.

Affiliate marketing is a multi million pound business around the world, and more and more companies are turning to affiliate marketing as a way of generating low cost leads that add to their prospect funnel.

Companies that offer affiliate schemes include Amazon, Expedia, insurance firms, mobile phone sellers… you name a product or service, and you’ll be able to find a company in that field that has an affiliate program.

Affiliate marketing has been around for a long time, ever since Bob first said “Tell ‘em Bob sent ya!”. Now I have no idea who Bob is, or whether he realised that he had created a whole new style of marketing, but marketing firms quickly picked up on it and found a way to incorporate it into their clients businesses.

So why is affiliate marketing a good idea?

Well, you only pay for your marketing as and when you make a sale.

Imagine a marketing agency coming to you and saying that they will work for you for free until they make you a sale. Well, that is effectively what you have with an affiliate marketing program.

Once set up, can you just sit back and wait for the prospects to come knocking?

Well, not quite. You need to encourage your affiliates to be proactive in their referrals and condition them to talk about your business.

You also need to make it as easy as possible. Of course, there are online systems if you have a suitable business, but it can be a lot more simple. Think about the flyer distributors that line Covent Garden promoting various restaurants handing you a leaflet with their name on the back to identify them (but maybe not be quite as intrusive with your approach?).

Maybe you could find someone who regularly comes into contact with your prospects and ask them to refer you. I was in the bank the other day and the manager started talking about an accountant. If I needed an accountant, I would have taken advantage of the opportunity. I would win because I had found a reputable service. The accountant would win because they just found a new client with no effort and very low cost. And the banker would win as he would have got a little thank you from the accountant. Win-Win-Win!

Think about how you can get other people selling or marketing for you and add a new prospecting stream into your marketing plan.

 

Rewards systems as a marketing tool?

Reward points bring in big business to companies. Collecting points becomes addictive and people will alter their buying habits in order to maximise the amount of points they get.

And we all know what points mean… Prizes!!

That’s right, you have to offer prizes and incentives for people to collect the points. And to maximise the rate at which people attempt to collect points, you need to having a range of targets, starting off with low level goals for people just getting started, ranging all the way up to your top of the range product or service for the very most dedicated savers.

And it does not need to be highly technical. Nero, the coffee bar chain, has a card that you keep with you which gets stamped each time you buy a coffee and when your card is full, you get a free coffee! How easy is that to replicate for you?

Of course, there are bigger programs.

Nectar points can be collected and spent through a number of retail outlets, both on and offline and can be used to save money on your groceries, go on holiday or buy yourself a bicycle (there is a lot of choice!). Perhaps you could form some fusion marketing partnerships that would allow you to create a program similar to Nectar for your niche.

Every time your customer or prospect takes an action which benefits your business, you reward them. And instead of the reward point costing you money, it actually helps to make you money.

Think about what actions you can reward your prospects and clients for taking and what incentives you can offer them to tempt them to continue acting. Start small and build it big. Condition your clients to continue to act and continue to encourage them with bigger and better rewards.

 

Definition of a ‘Good’ business

What makes a business a ‘good’ business?

I drove past a ‘good‘ restaurant the other day. The last time I visited, the food was good and the service was good, but the business was no longer ‘in’ business.

You see, the trouble with ‘good’ businesses is that they are often good because of the quality of the product or service. Small businesses are often set up by those who have a passion for what they do and who very often do it well.

The problem?

These same people who are excellent at service provision often have little or no business and marketing knowledge.

Can you make a better burger than McDonalds?

I pretty much guarantee that the answer to this question is yes. Given the opportunity, we could all go out and source better quality ingredients and present them in a far more appealing manner.

So how does McDonalds stay in business?

Marketing! And business systems.

So which is a ‘better’ business? McDonalds, or your local gourmet burger bar? I can imagine which has a better product, but which is the most successful?

What can you learn from this? Perhaps you need to look at what your clients are actually looking for and then give them that. If you give them more, charge them for more.

But over and above everything, a ‘good’ business deserves to be marketed effectively so that it attracts enough clients to stay in business. Commit to spend some time learning how to market your small business effectively so that your ‘good’ business will still be in business in the years to come.

3 Quick-Start Strategies for Marketing Internationally

We recently ran a marketing training for companies looking to expand into other countries. Below is a very quick summary of some of the ideas we share.

 

If you are considering marketing internationally then you must have had some levels of success already. Congratulations, however, I am guessing the idea of being a start-up again in a new country is not the most appealing concept.

The good news is that you do not have to go through all of that again. You and your business have built up a huge amount of experience and resource that is going to make your expansion a lot easier than it was the first time around. All you need to know is how to leverage these effectively.

There will be some research to do, as cultural differences may necessitate changes to your existing marketing. Perhaps the country in which you are looking to market have different preferences for how they prefer your call to action, for example do they have preferences towards telephone or online. Competition may be different in this country so you may also need to revise your competitive advantage.

Now comes the question of how you are going to get to your target market. Assuming you do not want to go through the potentially time-intensive and costly process of lead generation again, the question you need to be asking is how to find a quick way to your prospects? Fortunately for you, there are (at least) 3 ways to do this.

Firstly, you can look at setting up a joint venture. Identify a company who has a client database filled with your target market who you are not in competition with. Next, suggest to them an arrangement whereby your marketing offers their clients a benefit such as a special offer or exclusive access (the deal may depend on the partner) where the partner also such as a revenue share or reciprocal arrangement in your country. You should use the partnership to build a relationship with your new prospects rather than necessarily selling straight away, especially if this is your first exposure.

Secondly, you could look at creating a fusion marketing arrangement with other companies. These may be already set up in your target country, or they may be others also looking to expand. A fusion partnership involves companies that serve the same clients whilst offering different services. A great example of this is that of wedding services which could include dressmakers, caterers, florists and so many more. By marketing with a group of other companies, you can massively leverage your marketing spend.

Finally, look for affiliates to sell your products and services for you. There are so many companies using affiliate programmes that there will likely already be one in your niche that is already utilising this technique. Affiliates make a commission when they make a sale for you, so you only pay when you have a guaranteed sale. Before you invest in a system yourself, investigate potential affiliate networks in the country that may have specific requirements to work with them. This could quickly open you to thousands of sales people working to promote your business that you only pay once the results are starting to come in.

Use these ideas to help you to accelerate your international expansion and avoid the hard work of being a start up again.

5 Steps to ‘Passive’ Marketing Success

I got asked recently to write a blog post to help promote an marketing training event I am running in Bristol in a few weeks time. Below is the post, and click here to find out more about the event. Enjoy…

 

Marketing is rarely at the forefront of a business owners mind. Many would rather have a marketing plan that is automated, running itself and driving leads for the sales people to close.

Why?

There seems to be a mystique that surrounds marketing, which only people with experience and judgment seem to be able to understand. Well, the truth is that this is just another way to describe guesswork, and most small businesses cannot afford any guesswork in their marketing.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce and even eliminate guesswork in marketing, meaning that once created, a marketing plan can just be left to run behind the scenes. There are just 5 steps that need to be clear beforehand.

 

1. What is the purpose of your marketing. One of the biggest crimes in marketing is not having a clear call to action, leaving an element of ambiguity in the minds of the prospect. Whether you want the person who is exposed to your marketing to pick up a phone, visit your website or find your retail outlet, you need to make this excessively obvious, as any confusion in your prospect’s mind will lead to inaction.

2. Define your target market clearly. The secret to successful marketing for small businesses does not lie in costly broadcasting where typically 92% of your marketing may end up in front of people who are not interested in your product or service. Instead, you want to be able to ‘nanocast’ to individuals or groups of individuals where everybody needs what you are offering.

3. Identify the marketing tools that work for your business. Too often I hear of businesses who say that this strategy did not work or that they spent money in one area that gave no return. On further investigation however, it turns out that either they are not following the tips in this article, or they are fishing in entirely the wrong pond. All marketing concepts work, but not for every business. Money can be easily wasted investing in the wrong media.

4. Give your prospect a reason to act today. Does your marketing induce urgency? Does it create a sense of scarcity that makes people stop what they are doing and want to buy your product or service immediately? This may seem a little excessive, but offers with an end date out perform marketing without.

5. Your marketing budget. What are you prepared to invest to attract one new client? To know this number you need to understand two things: lifetime customer value and conversion rates. Understanding these numbers will allow you to make good returns in the early days of your marketing campaigns, and great results as they develop.

 

Follow these five steps and once you have created a marketing plan that works, all you need to do is refine it to improve the rates of return you get. Whilst it is not completely hands off, it helps business owners develop a plan that, once created, requires little day-to-day activity.

Guerrilla Music Videos

Who says it takes millions of pounds to create a great music video?

Well this video might change your mind if you did. You see, guerrillas (and once you have watched this video, also gorillas!) know that they can create a huge buzz with a limited budget. They find fusion marketing partners who can increase their reach and who will mutually benefit from the arrangement.

This kind of arrangement can be done on ANY scale, and when done effectively can be very profitable.

For example, this video cost nothing. Maybe a few minutes before hand to work out what to do at key moments (all will become clear soon!) and yet, at the time of writing this, has generated over 28 million views! Incredible! How would you like that for your business?

Ok, enough said. I hope this video stimulates your creativity, gives you some ideas on potential fusion marketing partners and gets you looking at marketing in a slightly different way. Enjoy!

P.S. Notice you do not even need to clean your room to be successful!!

55 Guerrilla Business Card Ideas

Guerrilla Marketing Weapon #4 – Business Cards

Guerrillas know that business cards can be a powerful marketing weapon. Not only can they be a piece of marketing and advertising in their own right, but the majority of time there will also be a personal connection made when the card is handed over. The more of an impact a guerrilla marketer can make with his or her card, the more likely it is that the recipient of the business card will make contact at a later date.

Guerrilla marketers also know that standing out from the crowd is vital, and so they do something different to engage their prospects. Different yes, but not at the expense of still getting across the important details that the client needs.

Perhaps the difference could be related to your meme, your strap-line, your industry, your name, your business name or any other element you can think of linked to who you are and what you do.

Guerrillas also remember that if their business card is too different, especially if it does not fit in a holder with other cards, that their card will likely disappear along with all the others.

The important things to remember when designing your business card are contact details, including social media, details of what you have to offer and a call to action. Other than that, get creative and find a way to engage your prospect.

Here are 55 ideas as to how others have done it. Perhaps you will find some inspiration for your own business card from these examples.

Guerrilla Marketing Business Card Idea Read More

Guerrilla Networking Tips

Guerrillas know that WHO they know is as important as what they know. Guerrillas understand that marketing is about PEOPLE, and the better they are with people, the more successful they will be.

NETWORKING is an important weapon in the guerrilla’s arsenal. Most successful businesses operate in both the online and offline worlds, and relying solely on internet-based traffic can be a dangerous game, especially with the speed at which the internet changes it’s criteria.

So guerrilla’s have an offline strategy that includes networking.

When networking, the guerrilla creates a situation where he or she LISTENS first. They ask a question about the other person’s business, what kind of client they are looking for or how they can add value that opens up a great conversation giving the guerrilla a number of ways to add value.

Then, when they talk about their business, the guerrilla is concise and impactful in their presentation. They have a great elevator pitch which they have refined. They know how to describe their client profile in detail. And they know who can help them get to the next level in terms of their business.

Guerrillas recognise that the business in any interaction often lies in the network BEHIND the person they are talking to. Who do they know? Who can they connect you to? Most people try and sell to the person in front of them. Guerrillas look beyond that moment and see the bigger opportunities that could lie there.

Business cards are an important weapon in guerrilla marketing. If you could only give someone one thing to take away with them (and normally this is the case) how would you make this memorable and at the same time add value, giving a reason to keep your card ahead of everyone else? Business cards do not need to be really expensive, but they do need to be well designed.

So keep these in mind next time. You will be remembered as interesting as you allowed someone to talk about themselves and you will be remembered as you have given them a well designed, value-giving business card! Good work guerrilla!