Why Christian Business Women Need to Increase Referrals

I recently visited a new restaurant that had great food and exceptional service.  Before leaving I was looking for their card so I could start referring people to them.  Getting referrals is imperative to every self-employed business owner.  Referrals can mean the difference between not having new clients and having a thriving business. Christian business women need to get know how to inspire customers to give them referrals on an ongoing basis to improve business.

One of the best features of a customer who comes as a referral is that they come with a mindset to make a purchase.  Therefore, you have to do very little if any selling.   What you have to do is have consistent service and products that make that new person want to buy based on the referral and to become another person that does effective referrals for you. That leaves you more time to run your business and make money.  So what are some secret to getting better, and more frequent referrals?

Referrals Come by Word of Mouth Marketing – So Encourage People to Talk 

People make a referral by talking about you.  This might be one of the only times when you want to encourage people to make you the target of their conversation.  Word of mouth marketing seems like a natural thing but it really doesn’t always just happen.  Just think about how many great places you’re been to that you don’t talk about with others?  With so many places to visit and so much on your mind, you probably just don’t think about different business you’ve enjoyed or even more simply, you just forget.  That is why the ability to get good referrals is an art as well as a marketing skill.  You need to control the thinking of your customers to make them want to pass the word along about how great you are.

Know Your Referral Sources and Track Them

Hopefully you can tell the people who have referred others to you in the past. Consider creating a special plan to keep track of these referral sources and keep them talking.  For example, you might send them a coupon for your products or services just to let them know how much you appreciate them. That means you need to set up some type of system to start tracking your customers and the people they refer. Do this by getting them on an email mailing list and sending them a notice of specials, sales, discounts, or special events.  Offer them something special when a referral drops their name, and then get the new referral on your mailing list too!

Be Great at Saying Thanks

As soon as you receive a referral, connect with the source and thank them. You can automate the process to make it easier. For example, when you receive a referral, generate an automatic email response to the referral source to thank them for spreading the word.  Come up with some type of gift such as a discount code to thank them. Depending on your niche and your business model, offering a discount can be a great way to motivate repeat referrals.

Apply the 10 x 10 Rule

The 10×10 rule works like this. Make a list of 10 complimentary industries to yours. For example, if you make health food for dogs, complimentary industries could be dog trainers, groomers, and pet retailers. Once you have your list of ten industries, do a bit of research and find 10 professionals from each of those industries that you can connect with for referrals. You now have 100 potential referral sources. Get busy and find ways to connect with these people. Introduce yourself, learn more about their business and educate them about yours. Suggest a mutual system of referring business to each other.

Be Sure to Ask for Referrals 

When a client says she enjoyed your service or product, or that you do a wonderful job for them, thank them and ask for a referral.  The best time to do this is when the good service or product is in the mind of the customer.  Asking for the referral helps to solidifies you in that person’s mind.  Ask the customer if she has a business card and say you want to put them on your business email list or special mailings. Be sure to send a thank-you card to that customer. It never hurts to include something special such as a discount or gift card as appropriate.

As a Christian woman in business, you really need to make the person who referred you feel glad that they did. Now, they will be more likely to do it again. Referrals are a wonderful business builder. Create a strategy to build your referral business; then you can focus more on providing spectacular products and services while satisfied customers help to drum up new business.

Should Christian Business Women Hire a Marketing Consultant?

Depending on your business and how far along you are,  a marketing consultant may be important in helping your business to grow.   Christian business women are now starting to work with marketing consultants to assist with entrepreneurial firms,  large corporations or non-profits.  Marketing consultant have client businesses that span a whole range of different industries. Essentially, any company that’s focused on marketing, that cares about their brand or wants to bring in new customers could use the services of a marketing consultant. Knowing exactly which types of clients you’re targeting will help you attract and close more of those clients.

Here are some of the most common types of clients marketing consultants encounter.

Brand Oriented Companies

Brand oriented companies tend to be larger companies with larger marketing budgets. Their primary goal when they’re spending marketing dollars is to win mindshare and associate specific emotions with their brand.

In other words, they don’t expect to make a sale right away. Their primary concern isn’t response or sales, their primary concern is brand.

What the marketing consultant does:  In this context helps guide the business’ brand along and makes sure that every ad the company puts out adheres to the brand’s core message.

Response Based Companies

These are the polar opposite of brand oriented companies.  These companies don’t care about branding at all.  Their main objective is to turn a profit from every ad.  If they spend $10,000 on advertising, they expect $12,000 in revenue to come in. If they don’t make back their initial investment, the campaign was a failure.

What the marketing consultant does:  With these companies, a marketing consultant can help choose what kind of media the company advertises in (radio, mail, internet, TV, etc.) They can help direct the copy or the creatives to ensure they convert. They can also help pick specific publications or channels to advertise in.

Small Businesses

Marketing consultants can also specialize in helping small entrepreneurial businesses succeed. For example, a marketing consultant might help a local dentist figure out how to attract more clients from surrounding cities.

What the marketing consultant does:  Small businesses tend to expect very measurable results. You either get them more customers or you don’t.  If you succeed, many small business owners will be more than happy to refer you to other local business owners.

Service Providers

Service providers can include Software as a Service (SAS) providers, industry-specific consultants (e.g. software consultants), debt consolidation specialists and really any other company that provides a service. Many of these companies operate on the internet or operate on a nation-wide basis.

What the marketing consultant does:  Marketing consultants in these contexts tend to be tasked with establishing a pipeline. These companies don’t just want you to come up with one or two successful marketing campaigns. Instead, they want you to help them develop a repeatable system of generating clients on a regular basis.

You and a Marketing Consultant

If you decide to find someone to assist you with your marketing, your job will be to identify ways this professional can bring in more customers and convert more customers, then make sure their staff can actually execute on that plan consistently.  At least you now understand some of the more common kinds of clients you might encounter as a marketing consultant.  You can target everyone from very small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar corporations.  Being a Christian women in business mean understanding resources available to assist with making her business or organization as successful as possible.  Planing your business operations and understanding your growth patterns will help to know when hiring a marketing consultant is most important.

If you don’t have a plan for your business you might not know when to expect the type of growth the warrants a marketing consultant.  Every type of business including a small business and non-profit needs to develop a business plan.  You can work through a plan with the NACWIB business plan program that’s simple to understand and easy to complete.   Work through a business plan for your Internet based business or find a detailed business plan for your company or non-profit as a resource in the NACWIB membership area.

Online Business Networking in 30 Minutes a Day

Online networking for business growth is the thing to do these days. But it can be time consuming.  There it is best when you can condense this activity into a small period of time so you don’t get sucked into Facebook, Twitter or other distracting social media sites. Thirty minutes a day is really all you need to do a great job of boosting your network when you know how to do it.

Here are a few steps to help you cut down on networking time but still getting a lot done:

1. Work Your Connections

Keep a list of people with whom you want to build a connection then locate them on Twitter, on Facebook or on LinkedIn.  Focus your activities on being in touch with these people. Check for updates from these people on a daily basis. Comment on their Facebook updates and @reply or retweet their tweets. Build up a connection with them gradually, using social media connections.  In time, you’ll be able to reach out to them for introductions, to schedule a meeting or even to close a sale.

2. Post Specific Tweets and Facebook Updates

If you’re using Twitter or Facebook professionally, then post an update on either or both of these sites. Make your posts as relevant to your audience as possible. Use these sites to build your credibility.  Keep the posts short and too the point.  Make them informative and use links to get people back to your website or blog.

3. Make a New Friend

Try to reach out to someone new every day. When you reach out, your goal is to help by offering something of people need.  Look for ways to offer value to people you know or people you don’t know.  One great way to do that is through LinkedIn answers. Answer questions for people, then see if you can connect with them.  You can also hop on Twitter and look through the people who are on hashtags that you also follow. See if you can connect with them. Look through your pile of business cards and see if you can find some of the people you’ve met in person on social media sites.  In other words, be proactive about building your network.

4. Ping an Old Contact

Look through your old contacts and look for people that you haven’t touched base with in a while. Shoot them a quick message.  If you get in the habit of doing this regularly, you’ll have a much stronger base of contacts than most people. Instead of letting your contacts die off, you’ll keep them alive and well.

5. Move Online Connections Offline

After you’ve built up some goodwill with someone online, see if you can meet them for lunch sometime.  Online connections are one thing. It’s great to have a lot of online B2B connections. But in order for those connections to amount to anything, they really need to be converted into offline connections. Try to meet  with someone different as often as possible.  As the renowned networking expert Keith Ferazzi says: “Never eat alone.”

Doing strong online networking doesn’t have to take up your whole day. Follow these tips and in just 30 minutes a day you’ll strengthen your network, meet new people and lay a solid foundation for any kind of professional support you need.

Increase Your B2B Social Networking Effectiveness

Do you work with other business owners in your business?  If so you are engaging in Business 2 Business operations often noted as B2B.  As a B2B business, it is important to understand how to properly network in this arena.  Business to business networking is a skill. Unlike traditional social networking, which anyone can pick up in moments, learning to be a great B2B social networker takes a bit of practice.  Take time to learn how to be a better B2B networker and make more effective connections with businesses using the power of the internet.

1: Get Personal: Don’t Just Broadcast

Good networking techniques means getting personal with some of your activities.  If you are only focused on broadcast styles of communication, chances are you’re going to miss out on a lot of valuable connections.  Instead use social networking to develop a relationship with other businesses.

Don’t just post updates on your wall or send out tweets en masse. Make one on one connections, @reply to people individually or send people personal messages on LinkedIn.  In other words, build a real connection.

2: Know Your Metrics

There’s a common misconception that social networking results can’t be quantified. This simply isn’t true. Most people just make the mistake of not picking metrics early on, which makes it very tough later to measure the success of a social networking campaign.

Choose a metric to measure your success.  It might be the number of in-person meetings you can get, number of retweets, number of Facebook likes, or something else.  Pick one that makes sense for your business.

3: Find Real Life Networking Opportunities

Don’t limit your B2B networking activities to just the internet. You can use online B2B networking to increase your in-person networking opportunities,  to connect with people and find events. Once you find out what’s going on by using the internet, get out a meet people.   Attend in-person minglers, networking events and mixers. Ask people who you meet online out to coffee or lunch.

Real life connections are infinitely more powerful than online connections. Use your online connections to get more face to face opportunities.

4: Become a Specialist in One Network

Don’t try to be an online jack-of-all-trades. It’s much better to master one social network than to be mediocre at several. In other words, let’s say you are a partner at an investment fund. You’re always on the lookout for potential investment opportunities.  Instead of trying to create a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile and a Google+ page, just pick one. For instance, LinkedIn.

Get really, really good at that network. Answer questions in the Q&A section and build a reputation. Get a ton of recommendations.  Become an authority.  Your one fantastic feed will draw more attention from people than several mediocre ones.

4: Look for Ways to Help People

Remember that B2B social networking is a long-term proposition. You’re not necessarily going to reap the benefits from your actions immediately. But it more than pays off in the long run.  The best way to cultivate your online business network is to help people.  Look for ways to connect people.  Share valuable content.  Answer questions in your field of expertise and help people whenever you can.

Build up goodwill and eventually it will come back to you in the form of referrals, clients, deals, job opportunities and more.

Take these few tips to improve your B2B Social Networking techniques to increase your marketing effectiveness.

Becoming a Marketing Consultant

Christian business women might want to use a marketing consultant at some point to assist with getting the word out about their business.  In fact, some business women will become a marketing consultant as a part of their specialty service area.  If that’s your choice, you have many ways to enter into the marketing industry.

Marketing consultants come in many shapes and sizes so it’s essential that you know what kind of consultant you plan to be. That understanding will shape the way you brand yourself, the way you look for clients, and the way you work with clients.

Here are five common types of marketing consultants.

1: Entrepreneurial and Small Business Advisor

Some of your clients will be small businesses that have a physical location such as small restaurants, spas, hair salons, grocery stores and other small businesses.  Your duties will include helping to identify new ways to bring in customers and helps clients plan and execute marketing campaigns.

Common marketing tactics you might suggest include coupon mailers, coupon packs, newspaper advertising, cable TV advertising and joint ventures with other local businesses.

2: Client Acquisition

If this is your niche, you will work with individuals or organizations that deal with higher end clients. For example, investment advisors, lawyers, doctors and real estate agents.  The goal is to bring in more clients. In this realm, however, the tactics are quite different. Common tactics might include web advertising, PPC marketing, buying leads, and magazine or newspaper advertising.

3: Pay Per Click or SEO Consultant

In this area you will focus on the online aspect of marketing to help clients maximize their Pay per click (PPC) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) returns.  Actually, markeitng consultants in this area usually specialize in either PPC or SEO but not both as these are very specialized skill sets. Clients can range from mom and pop stores to Fortune 500 companies.

4: Branding Advisor

If you work with brand marketing you will specialize in helping companies figure out their brand and core message.  You would help shape both the visual message as well as the intangible message.  A part of your job would be to help figure out things like logos, banners, posters and multimedia and help make sure that everything the company puts out adheres to a coherent message.

5: Social Media Consultant

As a Social media consultant you can help companies in a number of different ways.  You might  specialize in helping companies set up social media in the first place.  You help design Facebook covers and Twitter backgrounds, help register pages, help get a feed going and so on. They help take a company from no social media presence to having one.

Another focus might be to actually help run the social media campaigns.  You would take over the reins and post tweets, post status updates, run contests and create infographics.

Still another  specialty could be in crisis management.  With this specialty you will monitor the social media feeds and jump in to take care of things should negative press start spreading among the social sphere.

These are just five areas that are common in the marketing consultant industry.  You could find your specialty here or in one of many other new and useful areas that would be helpful to others in business.  Each area targets very different customers and uses very different skill sets. Make sure you know which category you fall into before you jump into the industry and you will be able to expect great success in this needed area of work.