Effective marketing is effective marketing in good times and bad. But it's funny how many more people seem to focus on it when the economic weather turns a little chilly.
There are certain core strategies that, if focused on continually, can make your business almost impervious to changes in the economy.
My favorite is building what I call your strategic network. Essentially this is a group of partners that you trust to serve your ideal customers and that you know trust you likewise. These partners should of course also possess lots of your ideal customer in their database.
If you work diligently to formally build, work, promote, refer and grow your network, you will soon find that the benefits are many.
- You can become a trusted adviser to your customers by confidently recommending products and services that help them get what they want in all areas of business and life.
- You can easily and logically develop joint marketing initiatives with one or more partners and share the costs of promotion while borrowing trust built by each partner. This can include brochures, sales calls and workshops hosted jointly
- You can assemble a project team capable of outmaneuvering the largest competitor.
- You can create a rock solid local search strategy that involves blog content from each partner in an area of specialty. Great content with a local focus is tough to beat from an SEO standpoint.
- You can adopt a not-for-profit organization and hold community networking events at your charity partner's place of business creating great exposure for them.
Once you have your key network partners in place the only thing that can hold you back is the collective imagination of your partners.
Take the time to build a structure that everyone of your partners can get behind and contribute to. As a guiding principle, make certain that anyone you invite into your network is a business or professional that you would feel good referring your own customers. You will build a network with your customers' best interest in mind, and it's hard to go wrong when you do that.
Here are some examples of ways to put this strategy into action:
How to build your network
One of best ways to attract the attention of partners you would like to draw into your network is to ask the right way. Don't simply contact them and ask them to join, turn the tables. Contact your potential partners and suggest that you have customers that you believe could benefit from their services and invite them to educate you on the best way to refer business to them. This giving first approach always opens conversations quicker then any other approach.
Heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical businesses servicing the same customers can easily create marketing materials that service technicians can distribute for each other. When a plumber comes out to fix a leaky faucet, he can reward the homeowner with 10% off the installation of a ceiling fan
Bring your team to the table
A market research expert that can tap the CEO expertise of the of a small design firm, copywriter, media buyer, publicity expert and SEO firm can often assemble talent and experience that far outstrips that of even the largest ad agency.
All search is local
Imagine my home services network above getting together and jointly contributing to a blog that teaches homeowners all they need to know about maintaining their homes through the seasons. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of community activities and this blog would rank very highly in any community where this strategy is employed.
A community place
Once or twice a year bring all your community members together and host an event with a local nonprofit. Invite your customers and allow them to network with their peers while helping your nonprofit partner spread their message, show off their facility and promote their upcoming events. The goodwill from this type of partnering often generates referrals as a side benefit.