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Building Client and Referral Communities
By John Jantsch, creator of Duct Tape Marketing

Two of the most important words in the marketing world are Content and Contact. I think the best lead generation is done by providing tons of great content – the best lead conversion is done by providing the right kind of contact. Put content and contact together and you not only have a powerful business building strategy, you have a customer loyalty and referral generating machine.

In my opinion, the best way for small business owners to take advantage of the craving for content and contact is to form communities around products, services and ideas. I think this idea is really at the heart of the unreal growth of social communities like LinkedIn and Facebook. People are desperately looking to connect.

Helping people connect in business terms may not be exactly the same as helping teenagers connect online, but the principles bare a striking similarity. The following examples illustrate some easy ways to help prospects and clients gain a deeper connection with your organization.

It’s just lunch. I have experienced some pretty fascinating results every time I have brought groups of clients together, even to share lunch. Business owners are starved for contact with their peers – the daily grind just makes this too hard to find. Facilitating this is a great service that any business can offer.

Peer to peer education. Current clients are probably more prepared to explain the value of your service to a prospect, including the limitations. Hold “focus groups” made up of several existing clients and several prospects. Let the current clients explain, in a nonselling environment, what your service has meant to them, what could be better, how to get more from it. Sit back and learn.

Natural word of mouth marketing. When you deepen a relationship with a client by opening up your contacts and clients to them, you will find that they will begin to naturally (not sales motivated) talk about what you do that matters to them. You cannot purchase that kind of conversation.

Resource director. Bringing client or other resources together and allowing your clients and prospects to take advantage of those resources is a great way to build community and loyalty. Hosting lunches or even teleseminars with other leading experts is a great example of this type of community building.

Referral communities. What if you put together a group of like-minded businesses, all focused on the same target audience, and you created a local online community, including a blog that each member of the referral group contributed to. This group could easily generate and educate leads in a way that would allow everyone to win. A semi-formal referral and co-marketing strategy is what you would need to make this take off locally.

Creating client and referral communities is a very satisfying way to build a business. The pressure that some business owners feel from the need to sell is virtually eliminated. Any business or independent professional that takes community building on as a primary marketing strategy and then sticks with it, can dominate an industry.

---Source: Nov. 19, 2008. John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. For more information visit http://www.ducttapemarketing.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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