Here’s a fact: as an entrepreneur, one day, you are going to encounter an unhappy customer. You may or may not do something to upset the customer, but the customer will be dissatisfied nonetheless. For me, this has been hard, as I tend to find myself always in the right. But you will learn that sometimes taking a serving of crow or humble pie is the only way to ensure your business thrives.
If you’re not getting the results you want with the typical marketing and advertising channels, here’s another idea that can generate a lot of business for you: networking.
Networking involves regularly attending meetings or events with other business people, with the intent to connect with a group of like-minded individuals. You may find that you need services or products that these people can provide, but your ultimate goal is to find potential customers.
Dive Into Networking
First, do your research. There are likely numerous groups that meet in your area and each may have a slightly different focus. Some meet weekly, but most meet monthly. Some networking groups cater to either men or women, while others include both sexes. Find one you’re interested in, and attend a meeting. Be sure to bring business cards, samples of product or services if you’re able, and a notepad to take notes.
Try Meetup.com. There, you’ll find groups that meet that cater to every interest, industry, and demographic under the sun.
Get the business card of everyone you talk to, whether they seem like a future client or not. Sometimes networking relationships take a while to cultivate, and while someone you meet may not need your services that day, they very well may call you down the road.
If you’re like me, you’ve just about exhausted the usual channels for networking. While networking groups are good for making contacts, those contacts don’t always translate into sales. Attending too many meetings with different groups can sometimes do nothing more than drain your pocketbook. So how can you meet people in your community that will be interested in your product, and bring you steady sales?
Volunteering as a Marketing Strategy
Think about it. You’re working with a diverse group of go-getters for a cause. While you will all be like-minded in the sense that you want to help a particular organization or non-profit, you all work in different parts of the city and do different things. Without having a specific agenda to sell, you will build relationships with these people, who will then think of you when a need arises that you can fill.
How Will Volunteering Help My Marketing Efforts?
Think about the people you have met at church, at your children’s school, in the community. You probably know where they work, and if anyone mentions needing services or products, you immediately think of the people you know can provide them.
It’s a common situation: you need to market your business, but you don’t have the capital to do so early in your company’s operations. The dilemma is difficult. You can’t generate business without marketing and advertising, but you need money for marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, many of the small businesses will fail as a result of not advertising their products or services.
These tips will keep you from becoming a statistic:
1. Take Marketing Risks
You wouldn’t be in business if you weren’t willing to take risks. You may have taken out a second mortgage on your home, raided the nest egg, or scrimped and saved to start your business. It is a complete waste of all of that if you do not advertise.
Do you have a database of contact information for your clients? What about people who are interested in your company, but who have not yet made their first purchase?
If you don’t have a database of contacts, you should. Keeping in contact with your current and future clients keeps you on top of their minds, which makes them more likely to buy from you. And while it might not seem like it, contact management is one of your key marketing strategies.