In today’s market, no matter what industry you are in, you are surrounded by competition. For every consumer who is looking to buy a particular product or service, there are potentially hundreds of options out there. How you set yourself and your business apart is about more than just your marketing efforts. You can literally drop thousands of dollars into your marketing plan; however, if you don’t work on developing meaningful relationships with your consumers through networking, your efforts will be moot.
Most successful business owners will tell you that word of mouth has been their most effective form of marketing. Whether you are a new business or not, it’s never too late to begin focusing on building better relationships — and networking is a great way to do so. Over time, you will begin to see growth and consistency in your retention and referrals, creating longevity for your business.
The first step is to develop a solid, consistent plan of action. If you commit to implementing a good system, you will see more success. You will also be able to track your results and evaluate what is working and what isn’t.
A great system will include getting involved in a handful of quality, lead generating networking groups. Go to where your consumer is. When you join a new group, be consistent with your attendance to meetings. You can offer to take a committee position within the group. Be intentional with setting up one-on-one and small group meetings with members and go into those meetings with your first goal to be getting to know them. Expressing interest in their goals and how you can help them will allow for a better response and quality relationship. Even if you only get to state your name and your business in that first visit, you will have made a positive impression. Just like with any relationship, trust is key and it takes time. People buy and refer to people they trust and like.
The key thing to remember when starting any system is to be consistent. Track your networking efforts and results so you can adjust accordingly. Working on building more quality relationships is more of a time investment than a monetary one; however, the results can bring great financial gain.
By improving your relationships with your consumer, you will begin to reap the benefits through improved client retention and more consistent referrals. In effect, you will be able to focus more time and money on the aspects of your business you enjoy most, rather than trying to figure out the next best marketing tactic that will help you bring in new customers.
Emily Young is a Marketing Manager for Affiliated Acceptance Corporation. For more information call 800.233.8483 Ext. 507 or email Emily.Young@Affiliated.org.