For small to medium-size company, these tactics are more than just low-cost; they are also very effective. They will provide you with a steady flow of incoming business year after year. They include personal contacts (or networking), face-to-face contacts, classes, free speeches, publicity, circulars, signs, and small ads. These tactics work for manufacturers, engineering firms, day-care centres, retailers, and every other type of business.
Networking includes all the proactive steps you take to contact and follow up with people who can help your business. Insurance agents who join the Lions Club, Chambers of Commerce, or the school board are networking. But there are many other ways that aren’t so obvious.
- Contact members of clubs or associations that could be interested in your product or service.
- Contact people at key state agencies.
- Network with potential customers that can’t visit you. A clothing store might network with a nursing home to pick up extra business.
- Serve on standard committees or other key industry groups, such as advisory boards or association committees for addressing industry changes. This is a good way to meet key industry people.
- Develop contacts in complementary businesses that can help you. An engineering company or consulting firm might want contacts with a manufacturers’ representatives in related businesses who might know of companies that need its products or services.
- Develop helpful customer contacts. Key customer contact can give you a lot of information.
- Personal Letters or Telephone Solicitation
Personal letters and telephone calls, when done properly, help establish a better relationship and improve your business. The most effective way to use personal letters and phone calls is to put them into a campaign with the following steps:
- Find names of people you would like to connect to your business:
- Networking contacts.
- Key people’s names that you have sen in newsletters, magazine articles, and newspapers.
- Trade show organizers and members of relevant associations.
- People who have contacted you in the past that you feel could be important customers.
- Have a compelling reason for writing. You could be:
- Looking for members for an advisory board.
- Hosting a large open house.
- Conducting a special seminar with known industry leaders.
- Sponsoring an industry round-table on a key topic.
- Explaining a new, key feature of your business.
- Prepare and mail a short letter. The letter should:
- Be short and clear.
- Ask people to call.
- Tell people you will call if you don’t hear from them.
- Include a photograph or other interesting visual.
- Include a sample or any other item that is appropriate.
- Follow up with a phone call.
- Call people if they don’t call you.
- Explain briefly who you are.
- Refer to your letter.
- State why you think the prospect is important to you, and why you hope that he or she will attend your event.
- If the prospect can’t come, ask if you can keep him or her on your list for future mailings.
You want mailings and phone calls to key prospects or key potential contacts to be done by a person with an important title, like president or vice president of marketing. Don’t trust these contacts to salespeople. Prospects are flattered when they receive contact from a key person, and this will help you generate marketing momentum.
- Face-to-face Contacts.
Follow-up with face-to-face contact is most advisable. A key contact might produce business for you over many years, and direct contact will give you valuable customer input and produce an increased level of sales.
One of the favourites with industrial companies is to send a personal letter before a major trade show, association meeting, or some other event that the person is likely to attend. Then follow-up the letter with a phone call, stating to connect the key person at the meeting.