Your marketing strategy will be more powerful when you build a network of trusted friends. This is a very different category than personal friends. Many women who get involved with a direct marketing line – as well as many marketing pros – will tell you that the fastest way to grow your business is to make a list of all your friends and family, and then start marketing to them first. But have you noticed that when you try that approach, they rarely seem to want to buy from you? It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
So a trusted friend is different. A trusted friend is someone you hold a business relationship with—and with all the advertising we get every day, this is an important strategy. Think about it! Are you more likely to read that SPAMMED email sent to you anonymously, or an e-mail a trusted friend sent, saying they thought you would be interested? Then imagine your trusted friends forwarding e-mail from you to others. Powerful concept!
Trusted friends are business partners who:
• Know your business and respect what you do
• Understand and value the small business owner
• Believe in relationships and referrals
• See potential clients for you in their own daily business
• Will, if the opportunity presents itself, refer business to you
• Are often willing to advertise you on their web site
• Over time, may package and bundle with you
Another way to describe a trusted friend is as a “strategic partner.” Strategic partners are people who are in alignment with your business, and are not in competition; their customers often need what you offer.
Entrepreneurs struggle with this concept. At networking events where I ask, “Who are your strategic partners?” I often hear, “Everyone who wants to be healthy.” Or: “All women are my strategic partners.” No, “everyone” is a lead or someone who might buy from you. A trusted friend mayNEVER buy from you, but is committed to growing your business in alternative ways.
The key is to build a network of trusted friends. How do you do that?
First, determine who they are, and then you will be able to network by asking to meet them.
Once you have met them, it is time to build and nurture a relationship that will turn into a partnership:
• Show interest and care about what your trusted friends do. You must remember to give!
• Keep in touch on a regular basis. Remember birthdays, and milestones. Don’t forget to send things that they will find informative or interesting.
• Be willing to reciprocate. As you meet people, keep them in your mind, can refer to them!
In late 2007, my coaching and speaking business started to feel the effects of the economy. Many clients were canceling business dates, and contracts were not getting renewed. Then, in January 2008, one regular client, who had over 20 days of business already booked in the coming months, slowly started cancelling them all. Suddenly I had no revenue, and I was worried about paying my team – let alone paying myself.
I reached out to my network of trusted friends. Through working my relationships with them, my business is now better than what it was projected to be.
I commonly hear small business owners say, “I just do not have time for it, Ann.” I am glad I took the time to build a network of trusted friends, because the payoff is tremendous! So make time for it, and you too will benefit!