Referral marketing illustration

Case Study: Three ways to increase referrals

Working with a client who makes animated explainer videos – Case Study of how to grow referrals.  We discuss three ways they can get more referral business.

Referral marketing illustration

Image by NWeSource

1.  Innovations in your specialism

Every market changes over time – fads pass, new ideas surface.  So write about what’s happening in your market.  Consider writing about styles, techniques, innovations to be added onto an explainer video (if that’s your business).  So which new styles are coming about?  Where did each one come from – background and timeline of the evolution.

In the writing analyse the change, what are the component parts, which elements stand out.   You could add in new uses for explainer videos – for example in a PitchPack video brochure.

The goal:

  • Give the reader the education and tools to make an analysis themselves of whether their archive of explainer videos is getting dated
  • Show your opinion as a market leader on what’s good, what’s new and what’s to be avoided
  • Create content which you can share with past clients and encourage them to update their videos and re-buy from you.  [This is referring back to prior clients, not new ones.]

2.  Create a Call list

You need to speak to people if you sell in Business to Business (B2B).  The best way to start a dialogue is with Open Questions.  These encourage a longer response from the other person and give you insight into their views on a topic.  Any insight enables you to position your services as a solution to issues they raise.

Here’s an example of a call prompt (not really a script).

“Hello, Rebecca.  I sent you our article about new styles in explainer videos.  I just wanted to get your opinion on it.  What did you think?”

Can you imagine how the call will develop into a discussion?  

Yes, so can I.

Whether you get a new job immediately or not, you stand a good chance of doing some good things

  • Checking your contact database is still current – add new names in if you can
  • Finding out the current situation in the client business with regard to your service offering
  • Reminding them that you exist and have been trusted with work in the past
  • Updating your CRM with lead status (cold, warm, hot)
  • Possibly opening new opportunities for new business.

Create this call list from a list of all your clients from the past 3 years (more if you’ve been in business longer).  Also add to the list from your Linked In connections and those from your co-workers.  Goal to have 100 people on the list to call.

Plan on making 3 calls per week, per person in your team.  Yes, new business development requires discipline and is hard.   We can teach you how…

3.  Getting Referrals

Start to build a referral marketing engine into your daily project work as well.  We find what works best is to connect with them early in the project.

Start with a “Happy call” when you ring asking for feedback on how the job is going.

Then build on this with a similar call just after the project has been delivered.  Remind them of what they said on the earlier call.  This is the moment to ask for a testimonial for the project team.

After getting this, I usually wrap up by asking

Do you know anyone else who might like to meet us? 

My goal is to get two names of people as an introduction.  My big tip to make this successful is to ask the question and then to stay silent until the other person has come up with a name…. stay silent as they “ummm” and say “maybe”, “well”,  “I’m not sure” and still stay silent and they will 80% of the time come up with a name.  If they firmly say no, you can prompt with – maybe a co-worker in a different team or maybe someone from your previous job and see if that can deliver a name.

How to use the introduction….. write an email to BOTH people.   This is my template email that works.

Subject: NAME OF THE INTRODUCER

Hi Alex,

Our AGENCY NAME has just completed a job for INTRODUCER and s/he suggested you as someone who might like to get to know us.

We completed an explainer video (link) for INTRODUCER.

I took a look at your website and [something helpful here which they can use immediately].

Looking forward to connecting.

Lots of love from Rebecca (only joking… use an appropriate sign off).

I always cc the introducer in this message so they know what I said.

In the email you could tell them about the customer satisfaction scores or Net Promoter Score which your team has acquired over time. Or link to TrustPilot Reviews or your Google My Business Review score.

The follow up call is just a friendly get to know you call. No selling.  But if you feel it’s gone well you can follow up with an email linking to a helpful resource from your website.  Here’s one I use frequently.

By the way, I found your website copyright is out of date (2012), here’s an article we wrote which explains how to add code to your website so this updates automatically every 1st January.  Just send this link to your web developers and tell them to make the change – do it once, and it’ll run forever

This is an example of the type of helpful marketing tips which Creative Agency Secrets writes in our newsletter and blog.  We want to enable you to buy web services as an informed consumer (and we don’t build websites, we help our clients to use them actively to win new client business).

Cute eh?

Then you have to put them onto a stay-in-touch programme or ask if they will allow you to stay in touch with a newsletter subscription.  Either way, one call won’t win you business but a dedicated process to provide utility (usefulness) to them, will ensure you are remembered and they take your calls in future.

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Preparatory work for direct mail lowers costs

Direct mail is a highly effective marketing technique that delivers sales revenue in a short time frame.  

Some direct mail is poorly conceived and so does not achieve its potential.

[WARNING – this is not always true].

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

I received three mailers from a printing firm which serve as a great example of a campaign that could have been much more effective with some pre-planning working with an expert in direct mail campaign structure such as us.

Direct Mail campaign structure

Using a mailing list of marketing agencies, three print pieces of DM were posted out.

The copy promoted “digital by nature” and a new world of digital printing.

The positives

  • Each card had a number to show where it came in the sequence
  • Each one showed different paper colours front and back
  • Each card had the print specifications for the front and back detailed which was cute
  • All print was beautifully executed
  • The 3rd card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital White Toner
  • The 4th card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital Clear Toner

The negatives

  • I did not receive the first card so the campaign opener was lost
  • My agency does not buy print or do graphic design, we are not a good prospect for this service
  • No landing page for the campaign on the website
  • When I first visited there wasn’t a mention of the campaign on the homepage, there is now.
  • This goes to a landing page which has the wrong link in the contact us button.

    wrong link

    Wrong link – testing would have showed this up

How I would have improved the campaign

  1. Combined telephone canvassing with direct mail
    1. Checked the database by phone first asking one question “Do you design for print?”
    2. This would have reduced the downstream print and mailing costs, focused the campaign
  2. Published a landing page URL on the collateral
    1. Tested all the links so the contact us URL was correct (it currently references the same page it’s on)
    2. Included a “behind the scenes” video to show the inside track of the skill Valley Print used to create the mailers and the challenges they faced e.g. printing white on black for the envelope
  3. Used a courier delivery not NZ Post to improve delivery success
    1. This is particularly important for a posted print direct mail series
  4. Followed up by phone with
    1. an invitation to watch the video
    2. stay in touch
    3. subscribe to news updates
    4. further qualify for future work opportunities
  5. This would have built a mailing list, fully up to date and ready for in-house new business sales team to continue to work in the coming months
  6. Planned follow up campaigns including more of the excellent tutorials for designers

Ready to talk direct mail with us?

Give us your challenge and let the creative team loose!

Ghost Street interactive agency

Building Trust with Clients

New clients take a bit of work – you have to work hard to get to know them and they you.

Ghost Street interactive agency

Ghost Street logo

Having been part of the BizDojo community we were lucky to meet a host of great folks in the co-working space on K Road.

So it’s always a delight when we get to re-connect in the interests of client work.

Not only does it look good to be able to say “we know them already” but it builds trust with both parties and also some strong marketing too.

Nice work, Tim Dawson of Ghost Street and fun to be collaborating.

Networks of networks

Which makes me think about questions I have had this past fortnight about the networks which work for me and where and how I find them.

Challenging – because when I moved to Auckland I knew few people. So here are the ones which I find useful for meeting smart folks who think, challenge, may become clients and have good things which I’m interested in hearing others talk about….

Which are your go-to meetings, groups and influencers? Please add to the list.

 

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile Raising, Step 5 – Relationship Development and Step 6 – Opportunity Spotting.

Click on each icon to see more posts in that category.

Symbol for profile raising as part of new business developmentSymbol for relationship developmentSymbol for creating new business opportunities

Google Alerts

How to Use Google Alerts to Drive Business

Google alerts are an extremely useful resource for promoting your business online. First of all, if you aren’t using Google Alerts to track your business, you’re missing a seriously useful hack. They are particularly handy for staying up to date with relevant and timely information regarding your business, so you can react immediately to any publicity or news as soon as it happens.

But that’s not all Google Alerts are good for…

Google Alerts can also be used via RSS as a news aggregator on your website or blog! This is particularly useful for showing your visitors you know what is happening around you as well as demonstrating a position of authority with regards to your particular topic. Displaying the latest, relevant news results provides a great reason for your fans to continue returning to your site. Tailored, niche content is much easier to digest when it is a subject aligned with your own browsing interests. It may even help increase the likelihood of your visitors purchasing from you!

The best part about this is it can be totally automated, so you don’t have to spend time curating material. But make sure you have tested and refined your alert keywords in order to get the best results. Or, be sure to check the results from time to time in order to filter out anything that doesn’t fit with your brand.

We will be putting together a guide explaining how to get Google Alerts displaying as an RSS feed on your website shortly…

The next application for Google Alerts is a little more intricate: With a bit of research and a thorough understanding of your target market, you can even use Google Alerts to find new business!

Example: How to use Google Alerts to Generate Leads

Our client provides storage equipment solutions to the global rowing community. Although they can retro-fit single pieces of equipment inside an existing boathouse, their biggest projects come from clubs and organisations who have or are building brand new facilities. These new facilities obviously require a complete fit out of storage equipment and therefore, are our client’s ideal market. So how do you know when a new facility is built and looking for storage equipment? Timing is everything – if you find them too late, they may have already sourced a supplier and you’ll have missed the boat. Google Alerts provides the answer!

By setting up alerts with keywords such as “new rowing boathouse”, “rowing building new boathouse” and “new rowing club” for example, you get a nice summary of boathouse developments happening around the world.

Of course you have to continue your research beyond the alert itself to determine the lead’s value. Sometimes, results are completely irrelevant, and sometimes they are duplicates of material you have already covered. However, on the whole, they are incredibly useful at identifying future projects, as they are often newsworthy topics in their local area.

google alerts example creative agency secretsgoogle alerts example creative agency secrets

The next step is to track all your leads in a spreadsheet. Information such as who to contact and where they are located is particularly important. Additional research on the lead’s website often provides the necessary information to point you in the right direction.

In our client’s case, we were interested in contacting the architects of the boathouse, so that we could get involved with the club and their design process, as early as possible.

We have experienced great success building up a database of quality leads for our client in recent months. It is then up to our client to continue the dialogue with the prospective club and come to an arrangement. We have had a great deal of success converting these previously unknown prospects into happy customers, and have done so without investing hugely in advertising, outbound mailing campaigns or other conventional outbound marketing activities!

We have been able to minimise the time taken to research new sources of business through alerts and have increased the prevalence of new business, while making it easy to filter out results of no value. And as it updates you each time a new boathouse is being developed, you don’t waste time searching for them manually. A weekly check of your alerts inbox provides you with enough

Regardless of your industry or business, there’s bound to be a positive application to use Google Alerts for. Whether it is direct lead generation, building a database of bloggers and journalists to share content between, or even researching a network of businesses whose interests align neatly with your own, the uses for it go on and on.

Step 5: Relationship Development

Step 5: Relationship development

This fifth step is where the hard work, diligence and persistence pay off in your search for success in new business development.

People buy from people they know, like and trust and so having an active relationship with prospects who remember your name when they want to and can get in touch with you easily when they want to is very important.

How memorable is your business?

People are forgetful. What are the ways that prospects use to remember your business?

I know people save the newsletters that I mail out. I find people write replies to Newsletters that I sent months ago and the reason is that they keep them “just in case” they need to get in touch again. Many businesses do not use a business database and this is a shortcoming.

There are many ways to stay in touch with people and it’s beneficial, as your mailing list grows, for you to have some that are semi-automated and do not require a lot of your time in order to fulfil.

Good examples of these are autoresponders and newsletters. We also use social media as a way of staying in front of people we have a set-and-forget process of feeding RSS feeds through to our social media profiles so that we can appear to stay ahead of the news and on top of new developments even though we are not actually watching social media every hour of the day!

Staying memorable

Every business owner should have some form of regular networking in their diary. This could be as simple as a trade professional membership group, your chamber of commerce, or some specialist group for your area of expertise. Meeting people regularly is a very good way of staying front of mind. But beware, these people must be your prospects, not your competitors!

One way to find out if you are doing well in your relationship development is to track the number of new people we put into the business database. I collect business cards from as many people as I can who I think maybe of potential future interest to the business. This includes suppliers as well as prospective clients.

How and where do you get business cards? And what do you do with them?

It is important to have a careful plan to stay in touch with new people you meet. Some of them you want to spend time with and have a slowly developing individual relationship, others you can use mass communication. When planning your marketing, you need to think through these processes and organise all the communications necessary.

I have two special face-to-face relationship development techniques which I use. One is my circle of influence. The other is unhurried conversations.

A circle of influence is a small group of people who regularly feed new work through to us. These are people in parallel businesses whose services precede ours in the business service cycle. I meet with them on a quarterly basis or speak to them on the phone and they send us new enquiries and we are also able to reciprocate work back to them.

Unhurried conversations work on a slightly different format. It is a social event in the evening where I gather a group of interesting people around our board table for some afterwork drinks and nibbles. We use a format whereby only one person may speak any time. This forces everyone to listen carefully to what is being said. There is no agenda. The conversation takes whatever direction it wants to go. Learn more about the unhurried conversations format at this website. It is interesting that in this busy age of connected people and individuals so many people value a slower pace of talk, chat and interaction. Working at the slower pace allows my guests to take their time in thinking and considering whether they might work with us.

In summary – formalise all methods of building relationships between the business staff and prospective customers.

Profile Raising

Step four: Profile raising for new business

Getting well-known for what you do is a very long-term process. But this should not deter you because it’s relatively easy nowadays to become known for a specific skill or product.  

Becoming famous for being good at what you do in a public forum takes a few simple steps, repeated.

Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

The goal of this step in the new business development process reinforces prospects’ decision-making when they come to select someone to do work for them or with them. If they can find out about you independently, and online they are far, far more likely to hire you then if they cannot find out about you.

Where is your brand findable in public?

So let’s have a look at the different places where a stranger could find out about you and your business and the things that you do.

  1. Do you write articles?
  2. Have you been mentioned in the news?
  3. What about public speaking?
  4. Have you ever been to a conference?
  5. Do you ever speak or present at business events like BNI, the Chamber of Commerce or Local Business / Professional Membership Associations?
  6. What about running workshops or webinars?
  7. Do you host events at your own premises?
  8. Could you invite clients and prospects to learn more about your skill and expertise in a face-to-face environment?

Here are some of the things that you could do to improve your “find-ability”.

Business awards Does your industry run annual awards and could you enter?  Many parts of New Zealand have local Westpac Business Awards happening every year.  This not only adds to your internal feelgood factor for the team by entering, but it also gives you handy PR and some external credibility if you get through to the final stages.

What about opinion formers? There are always people who are prepared to stand up and talk about your industry; could they quote you? These people may be journalists but often nowadays they might be bloggers or podcasters.

Networking is important for most businesses particularly if you want to win clients locally. Having actually met someone is a very strong and easy way of building trust. Find out where your local networking opportunities are. This may be the Chamber of Commerce, local meetup groups or BNI.

I do recommend you check out the website meetup.com because a lot of good events are run and publicised through there.  You can search by location to filter.   And also, look at Eventbrite for your country. You will see that Creative Agency Secrets does a lot of Eventbrite work and we find the people actually search this site and sign up to our events.

Members of your staff also talk about your company and it’s important that every time they mention your firm you want it to be positive and also consistent. It’s important that you, the business owner, are not the only ambassador for the business.  Can you enthuse them?

Conferences, trade shows and exhibitions are another good place where you can get better-known. You could run a trade stand or you could just attend and see who else is there and talk to the other people you meet. If you’re able to get onto the conference speaking platform as a speech-giver then of course it’s a very good way to put your message across in a subtle manner and showcase your expertise. Do your research locally – are there conferences running and can you get a copy of the full attendees list if you are a speaker?  This gives you an opportunity to get in touch with people after the event as well.Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

Read the other posts from this series here!

Step three: New business pipeline

How well are you doing at winning new customers and prospects? Is it very important because your percentage success rate at winning opportunities has a direct impact on the number of opportunities that you convert paying customers.

symbol for new business pipelineEven a small improvement in your success rate will help you to make more money.

Step 3 in our Methodology is all about the steps prospects go through before they decide to buy from you.

Recent new business success

Let’s start by doing an analysis of your recent business successes. Go to your accounts software and print out a list of all of the invoices you have raised over the last six months. Make a note of the total sums payable by each individual and rank than by size so that you have the largest paying customers at the top of the page.

Now let’s have a look at some of the history of each of these customers or clients.

  1. How did you first get to know them?
  2. What dates did they first get in touch with you?
  3. What was the first opportunity they discussed?
  4. What was the final proposal to put to them? Was there a difference from 3 above?
  5. Who led the discussions?

Now let’s do the exact same thing for your existing prospects. You should have a list somewhere of all of the prospective new clients with whom you’re in discussion at the moment. Print that list out and answer the same questions as you did with your previous clients. Below is a form that you can use to fill out which may help you to order your thoughts for these.

Classify new business, lead sources,

Where does business come from?

Within your list of prospects may be some which are not yet concluded. Write down what’s the next step is towards bringing them closer to having a discussion with you and making a decision to buy.

How many biz dev stages are there?

A new business pipeline may have many steps, frequently there are common steps which all prospects go through. Usually for a B2B business they start with initial discussions, and you refine your offer and what the customer wants to buy, and you had a price and discussed whether they are prepared to pay for it, then you negotiate and then you either win or lose the business. It is a pretty standard sales funnel.

For B2C businesses the products are standardised and the steps have fewer reviews and revisions.

See if you can Identify what stage each of your current opportunities are at. Note: I put into an opportunity any discussion which has the potential to become new work – but I set it at a very early stage to reflect this.

Look for patterns in the data

What causes you to win business and what makes the sales funnel longer or shorter? Try to identify the causes of positive and negative situations in your sales funnel. These are areas to focus on – the ones which deliver faster revenues are worth focusing on.

If you have lost some opportunities recently, one tip I recommend is to ask a neutral third party to ring these people up and find out why you didn’t win the business. People will often be more honest than speaking to someone who does not work for the business. This can give you great insight.

Next time we’ll be looking at your business and brand profile and how to raise your profile.

Read the other posts from this series here!

What is the best way to get new customers for a digital agency Creative Agency Secrets Digital Marketing

What is the best way to get new customers for a digital agency?

We are an Eastern Europe digital agency of 40+ team specialising in business software development. We have been doing some projects for a high profile customers in the UK through our partner there. What would be the best way for us to find new customers? We don’t have a sales nor marketing team as most sales were driven by our partner.

The key elements are to follow the Customer Value Optimisation model. Now since you don’t have Business Development resource in-house you are going to have to hire or outsource to get the skillset you need.

Before that, and the most important part of the CVO is “Determine your Product / Market Fit”. That’s the core and here I strongly advise you spend some money on hiring a marketing expert who can facilitate a session with you to extract that, capture it into a written strategy plan and help you write the tactical implementation plan. (that’s the Return Path on CVO).

Then you have the core already agreed and can use this to brief outsourced folks to write landing pages, ad copy, research DM lists, run social, do follow up calls etc. In this way you can hire execution people who are cheaper than strategy people.

My own Lead Generation Methodology follows a similar pathway detailed on this slideshare deck and accompanying YouTube

The Art and Science of Generating Leads

Watch the Video training of the Art and Science of Generating Leads

What is the New Business process?

Continuing our series on the Art and Science of New Business – Read Part 1.

I’m going to start with the definition of a business process –

Process – a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that serve a particular goal.

I took that definition from Wikipedia but it’s very straightforward if you do something in exactly the same way over and over again you will get the same outcome and that’s a process.

I want to remind you of the title of this article series is the Art and Science of Generating Leads.  The difference between an Art and a Science is that in the science everything is replicable exactly, every single time that you do it.  And art is not.

Generating leads is not always identically replicable. This is because markets change, economies evolve, your product or service may differ; the needs of your customers and prospective customers may be altering over time.

This does not mean that it is impossible to create a replicable process. But it does mean that you must acquire more skill than just following a series of “paint-by-numbers” tasks.

But you knew that didn’t you?

A business process gives an outcome

Let’s begin with working out the different steps that lead to an outcome.  I’m going to give you an example from my own

BNI logo

BNI logo

business here. It’s Wednesday morning at 7 AM. I am in a cafe with a group of 32 other trusted business individuals who are all working to help me generate leads for my business. The group is called Business Networking International. We meet once a week in order to do our best to help each other win more customers. How we do it is a straightforward, replicable business process.

It’s a methodology developed by Dr Ivan Misner.  He found it to be effective and set up a network. He’s grown it to over 180,000 members in many countries across the world. It is a tried and tested methodology for business owners to find a group of other business owners whose business is to help you find leads for your business.

Sounds extraordinary? Well it is.

I’m not going to tell Dr Misner’s story here, but suffice it to say at a certain stage in my business I found BNI to be a very useful discipline to help me establish a business process around finding new customers. I commend it to you and suggest you go and research the organisation today; their website is www.bni.com.

The new business development 8 step methodology is a process

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?In order to make a process you first need to ensure that you’ve got all of the component parts lined up and ready to work I will say that step eight is the actual process because you string together all the components.

Step one is Who are you and what do you do? and that’s the topic up next.