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Growing Your Business

Multiple Streams

Every company has some way of generating clients. The idea of Multiple Streams is to add one or two more ways of generating clients and/or keeping them. Just by adding one or two new methods, you can significantly increase your revenue and client base.

I’d say for most service businesses (ours included), the number one way they get new clients is referrals and/or word of mouth. This is great and it’s the highest compliment you can receive. Referrals are pure gold and hopefully we all treat them this way.

But, what if we added a few more ways to get new clients? And, what if we added a few more ways to keep clients — getting them to buy more and more often?

These “new” ways don’t have to be expensive or complicated but you will need some sort of plan or system. You’ll want to track where your clients really do come from and implement some sort of referral program you can also track. You want to be sure you are spending your time and money on the activities that matter — those that contribute in a positive way to your bottom line.

Here’s one way:

Formal Referral System

Since most of your new business probably comes from referrals, can you do anything that would increase the referral activity? Do you have a specific referral program in place? If not, create one. If so, enhance it.

  • You can train your employees to ask for referrals — there are professional and proven ways to do this.
  • You can thank those who refer business to you — a handwritten note or a special gift each time they send someone your way can make a huge impact.
  • Joint Venture with them. Maybe you can pay others to send clients your way. There’s an old saying that rings true most of the time... ”If you want someone to do something, pay them!” For some companies this will not be appropriate but it’s something you should seriously consider before you dismiss it too quickly.

Example of a Formal Referral System:

You are a company that provides managed IT services. For a monthly fee, you take care of the computers in an office. You make sure the hard drives are not too full leading to the very sad and frustrating Email melt down and or hard drive crashes. You clean up the drives from bugs and spyware issues. You ensure the network is safe and secure and fast. Etc.

Since any company that has two or more computers can pretty much be classified as your prospect, you quickly realize — woha! that market is too big to focus on! So... you research your existing clients and notice that several of them are small manufacturers. These guys are busy making concrete, pipe protectors, valves and other things that support bigger businesses. You notice that this group tends to lag behind all the technology trends, and all they really want to do is get their clients what they need and do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So, you are inspired to go get more of these kinds of clients. You could rent lists of the various manufacturers and start calling and mailing, or... you could hook up with their industry trade association and see if you can create a partnership. So you find the “International Rotomolding Association” and see there are several hundred members. You call the association president and present your offer. You offer to sell your services to the association for a reduced fee. The association can then re-sell the services to their members (also for a reduced fee from the “street rate card”). They want to provide their members with incentives for being members so “member only” pricing is very attractive. You make money, the association makes a small mark up on what they sell the service for, and the members get a great deal on a service they desperately need. The association agrees to endorse and promote the “member only” service and you provide all the marketing collateral and follow up.

Since the association is getting a commission off of each sale made to their members, do you think they will be a tad bit more motivated to talk about you to their members? If you agree to give them a percentage of any and all business that comes from a member, do you think the association will do whatever they can to promote you and your company?

Yes. Yes they will.

However, a note of caution — there will be considerable effort on your part getting the association program up and running. You must provide all the marketing materials and make this completely “effortless” on the part of the association. Yes, they must take the initiative to endorse you, but you must give them the exact plan on how to do this. If you just talk about it and everyone thinks it’s a great idea but then you do not take all the action to move it forward... it will not move forward.

The really good news is, once you do have the program up and running, it will eventually become “mostly effortless” for you too. You’ll need to treat this association just as you would your best client — follow up, stay in touch, say thank you, acknowledge, etc. But, now you will have one contact sending you several referrals vs. one-on-one referring.

The key to success

Start small, get your systems in place, then spread the system out as quickly and as far as you can. Look for the low hanging fruit — the clients/industries that get the least attention. Start here. Perfect your system, pricing, follow up, approach, etc. Then expand.

There are many, many, many ways you can add to your existing marketing program. Below are a few but there are about a zillion more. If you’d like to chat further about any of them, call me (281-374-0170), E-mail me Kathy@thebusinesslab.com or find out more about our programs: Lead Generation Program / Client Reactivation & Retention Programs.

More ideas

If you do direct mail then add telephone follow-up. Did you know that by following up by phone once you’ve sent something to a client or prospect you can improve your effectiveness by 7 to 20 percent? The letter, phone call, letter phone call... campaign is hugely successful. A lot of work, but very effective!

Write and pitch expert articles in trade publications (and other media). You are an expert at your business. There is something about your industry that is educational and beneficial for clients and prospects and others in your industry. Write about these things. Not in a self serving way, but in an educational, informative, mentoring way. Well written articles like these are typically very welcome by industry publication editors. If you have expertise but no writing skills, hire a copywriter. You can get some very talented writers to help you (call me, I’ll recommend some! 281-374-0170). Consider submitting an article two, three, four times a year. Then, if the article gets published, buy the reprints and use them in your sales and marketing presentations. Place the articles on your website and be sure your whole staff gets a copy. It will be great for them to see you as a published expert and it always helps when your employees know you value your expertise and your company enough to talk about it — and to market it.

Co-Endorsement Campaign. Partner with an alliance, someone who markets to the same clientele you do but is not a competitor: Graphic Designers + Printers; Accountants + Lawyers; Outdoor Sign Companies + Indoor Sign Companies; Luxury Auto Dealers + Custom Clothiers; PR Firms + Ad Agencies; Dentists + Dermatologists...you get the idea. Each agrees to send a letter to their client list endorsing the other party.

Create Back End Products/Services. Once you have the client, think about any other products or services you can continue to sell them. Things like maintenance agreements are great ways to help your client get the most benefit from the product or service they just purchased and keep your name in front of them... and, add additional revenue to your company. Examples:

  • If we (The Business Lab) design your website, for a nominal fee each month, we will update your News and Resources section for you so that you can show your clients your company is on the leading edge.
  • A chiropractor may offer heath promoting supplements to help patients tackle allergies; creams for muscle aches, etc. Or they may offer sleep promoting pillows and mattresses.
  • An accountant can offer monthly bookkeeping services, or maybe offer bookkeeping software classes.
  • A communications firm can offer quarterly updates on how to speak effectively with clients, employees, the press, your spouse.
  • Etc.
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What do you do with the clients who say NO to you? Can you sell that lead to a competitor? Can you call them back and offer them a special discount? You probably worked pretty hard to get that person to tell you who they are. See if you can benefit from this effort.

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