Most modern marketers will tell you that you need to invest in inbound marketing activities (blogging, email marketing, and social media) to get new customers. It will drive website traffic and leads, and your company will grow by leaps and bounds.
That is true, but what they might not tell you is that it takes time for that method alone to start generating high quality leads (and it will never generate them if you miss the mark on the kind of content you're creating). What are you supposed to do in the meantime?
We know that traditional marketing activities, like cold calling and direct mail, aren't very effective for the amount of effort you have to put in. That leaves most companies in a conundrum. They walk a fine line between traditional and modern marketing and feel frustration that nothing seems to be working.
The Most Effective Way to Get New Customers
It's not brain surgery, really. It's common knowledge that the best way to get new customers is from referrals, and referrals come from your network. If someone you know and trust recommends you use a certain vendor because they had a great experience with them, the chances of you looking elsewhere are slim. Who's got time to vet a million different vendors anyway? It's exhausting.
There is a commonality between top sellers that goes beyond their "sales skills": more often than not they're well connected. They have a strong network and deep relationships in the community and with their current customers.
Top sellers also understand the nuances of the sales process and how to guide each buyer through the decision journey. They know what questions to ask and what information to provide each step along the way.
Combining this time immemorial sales technique with modern marketing tactics like blogging, social media, and email marketing can be the answer to the most effective – and fastest – business growth strategy today.
1. Build Your Network
One of the key goals of modern marketing is to build a network of people who follow you on social media or subscribe to your blogs or emails. If you publish content consistently, you'll start getting "opt-ins" each month. That signals that they're interested and engaged – they want to hear from you.
That's a good start! But it may not be enough to fill the coffers all by itself – especially at the beginning. What then?
a. Engage your current contact list.
Evaluate your current contact list (we all have one, even if it's small). Segment out all the people that could be potential customers or give you referrals. That could include your current list of prospects, past and current customers, partners and vendors, maybe even friends and family, etc.
Deepen your relationship with them. You know what they say: if you want to have a friend, you have to be a friend. A contact that you never talk to is no contact at all. Go out to lunch with them, call them, respond to their social posts.
Due to time constraints, you'll probably need to have a limited target list of people that you can really develop. You can use blogging, social monitoring, and email marketing to keep in touch with a larger group of people and increase awareness about your company.
b. Create partnerships (co-marketing opportunities).
Think about potential partners with whom you share a target audience but don't directly compete with. Reach out to them and brainstorm on how you can cross promote to help each other get in front of new potential customers. This can be one of the most valuable ways to quickly expand your reach.
c.. Create a list of the companies you would like to do business with.
This is a bit more of a manual process, but if you want sales now, you can't always sit back and wait for new potential customers to stumble upon your website.
Make a list of the top 20 (or more) companies you think would make great customers. These are your ideal profitable customers. Once you have the list of companies, find the decision makers and associated contact information. Connect with them on LinkedIn, and develop a targeted communication strategy to get them "into your world".
The key to this strategy is to think long and hard about what type of messaging and content will engage these people and get them to see you as a trust worthy and credible. If you do it right, you can subtly help them realize they have a problem and you have a solution. When the light bulb goes on for them, you'll be the first person they call.
No one likes to be "sold" to, so this strategy is not about pushing your product or service down their neck. It's about being more interested in helping people than putting dollars in your pocket.
I know it can be tough to think that way, especially if money is tight. But if you treat people right, the dollars will come of their own accord. And you can take that sentiment to the bank! (No pun intended - haha!) I think if done correctly, this can be a valuable way to get the right people in your world.
2. Ask for Referrals
As you begin establishing yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader to your existing network, more and more people will know what you do and the value you provide to your customers. That, in itself, will get you more referrals. People talk, and your name will come up when the right situation presents itself.
You can accelerate that by gently reminding people to refer you. Let them know about how you're helping your existing clients, and that you'd like to see other companies experience the same kind of results. It's often something we forget to do (or feel uncomfortable doing!). But if we truly feel confident in our ability to make a positive impact for our customers, and they're happy with the service we provide, it should be quite easy to get a steady flow of referrals.
And the best part is, with your awesome website copy and blog articles, when a referral goes to check you out online, they'll be sold before you even have a conversation!