As I’ve said a zillion times, most marketing is random.
Most professionals don’t have a step-by-step system for attracting clients, despite the fact that this is the only approach that works. So they just do marketing activities in a random, unplanned way.
But an organized system can be very free-form in the way you connect with initial prospects. There are probably hundreds of ways to do this.
The name I’ve given my system is “Stream-of-Business Marketing.”
Stream-of-business marketing relates to every connection you make every day. For example, you might meet someone at a networking event or connect with a couple sitting beside you at a restaurant. You may be having a conversation with an existing client, or get a message by email or through Facebook.
None of these connections were planned, they just happened.
The thing all of these stream-of-business connections have is that every one of them has the potential to be a new client (or a new service for an existing client). The thing is, we often don’t take advantage of those connections. We might talk, exchange cards or emails, but most of us don’t take the proactive steps to move things forward.
I had been working with a number clients in a group program a few years ago and kept emphasizing how we can take advantage of these stream-of-business connections if we are mindful of the situation and the opportunities.
The first one happened when G.G. was at the doctor’s office and struck up a conversation with a fellow patient in the waiting room – something she usually wouldn’t have done. One thing led to another and she followed up with the patient, ultimately got a meeting and turned that meeting into a new paying client.
The other one was similar. J.K. met someone at the business center of a hotel and asked him if he was attending the same conference as my client was. The answer was yes, and the conversation continued with learning more about each other. In a few minutes, my client had a business card and an appointment the following week.
What’s important to note is that both connections were tied together by affiliations. These fellow patients and conference attendees had something in common. But even more importantly, they were able to turn a random stream-of-business connection into something more because their “organized marketing system” kicked into action.
Perhaps just as important is what they didn’t do. They didn’t have just a “pleasant conversation” that went nowhere. When they saw an opportunity, they explored more and took action.
A similar thing happened to me earlier this year. I had heard that someone in my network had just been interviewed for a podcast. So I listened to the podcast which I thought was very good. Then I asked myself, “Why not ask this person to interview me?” One email later and we had set up the interview. This person had known of me for years and was thrilled to do the interview.
And almost every week when working with a client who is struggling with writing copy for a website or article, I ask, “Why don’t you let me write that for you and get it done in a week instead of several weeks?” They invariably respond positively.
The thing to understand is that these stream-of-business opportunities happen ALL the time if we are tuned into them. Instead of holding back, we can reach out and engage someone right then and there.
Here are the steps when you make these kinds of connections:
1. Strike up a conversation and spend more time listening than talking. When you find things in common, the conversation is engaging and you will build trust.
2. Ask what the other person does for a living before they ask you what you do. Be interested, not interesting. Find out about their business. And hold yourself back from talking about your business too quickly.
3. When they ask about your business, use a good audio logo with “a hook.” For instance, “I work with big companies who are missing One Big Thing that’s preventing them from succeeding at an even higher level.” The hook almost forces someone to ask what that one big thing is.
4. If they show some interest, continue the conversation, still avoiding talking too much about your services. If you do talk, the best thing is to tell a success story or two: “A recent client started to apply that one big thing and went from no profit to 20% profit in less than a year.”
5. Now the big key: Don’t just exchange cards and hope something will happen. No! Set it up so that you can follow up later. And the best way to do that is by offering an article: “I wrote an article about this called, ‘The One Big Mistake Companies Make and Seven Ways They Can Correct It.’ Can I send you a copy?”
6. Then follow up a few days later: “Hey, this is Robert, I sent you that article on the One Big Mistake. I wondered if there were some things in that article that you could relate to your business?” Then continue the conversation to see if this person is a qualified prospect or not. Then, finally…
7. Offer them a “Complimentary Big Thing Strategy Session” where you’ll explore their current situation, their goals and vision and the challenges they are currently facing. And of course, you’ll also let them know about your services that help companies with that One Big Thing.
You can turn random connections into meetings with qualified prospects by following this step-by-step strategy. To make this work, you need to be prepared with listening skills, an audio logo, an article or report, a call-to-action and a strategy session.
Get a Truckload of Free Marketing Stuff:
My Marketing Plan Workbook, 7 Principles of Professional Service Business Marketing, the Mindset Oracle, 12 Videos on the Essentials of Marketing for Self-Employed Professionals, three Expert Interviews, the Marketing Score Card, and, oh, yeah, the infamous weekly More Clients eZine.