Dec 4

Business Networking

It’s that time of the year again.  I am not referring to the holiday season.  If you own a business, now is the time to consider your advertising options for 2009.  This process is typically called ad planning.
As you consider your advertising and marketing options for 2009 and as you make decisions on what to keep and what to axe, I want you to consider a few line items that aren’t traditionally listed on ad planning budgets.  These “red-headed stepchild” line items are Business Networking and Customer Referrals.  If your organization has been around for at least a few years, chances are a certain percentage of your revenues in 2008 were a direct result of Networking and Referrals.  And yet, most businesses will not budget for these two key revenue generating tools in their annual advertising and marketing budgets.

Ad planning in this economic recession is all about stopping what’s not working and doing more of what is.  In 2009, many businesses will not have the luxury of testing new advertising or marketing initiatives.  Therefore, business owners should pay special attention to how much revenues were the direct result of their business networking and client referrals.  If more than 15% of your revenues were derived from these timeless sources, it is highly advisable to make them line items on your 2009 budget.
Here are some specific line items you might want to include as part of your advertising and marketing budget.
( NETWORKING – Budget Examples )
1)  Association or Club Dues
2)  Event Participation Costs
3)  Weekly or Monthly Lunch Dates w/Clients, Partners and/or Prospects
4)  Networking Collateral (could be something as simple as a business brochure)
( REFERRALS – Budget Examples )
1)  Proper Holiday Greetings (not too late for 2008)
2)  Proper Client Thank You Gifts
3)  Proper Client Referral Thank You Gifts
4)  Referral Collateral (could be something as simple as adding a line to your e-mail signature)
5)  Client Appreciation Events (ask them to bring another business owner for networking)
As I have always stated before, you know your business best.  Only you can determine if a $500 expenditure on a Client Appreciation Happy Hour will generate more business than an advertisement at the same cost.  My point is to make sure you don’t dismiss these key revenue-generating tools as just “add-on” business.  Generating revenues through Business Networking and Client Referrals are just as important as any ad you might budget for next year.  In this economy, many will argue that it might be much more important.
I leave you today with the following statement.  It is often printed on the back of business cards in the Real Estate Industry.  There is much we can learn in the most remote and simple places.
“I invest 100% of my time providing superior service to my clients because I believe in cultivating lifelong relationships.  My goal is to provide you with extraordinary service so that you won’t hesitate in referring family, friends and colleagues to me.  A referral and your trust is the highest compliment I can receive.”

3 Responses

  1. Ben Waugh Says:

    Hi. I read a few of your other posts and wanted to know if you would be interested in exchanging blogroll links?

  2. Katherine James Says:

    Isn’t there some kind of data on how much it costs to get a new client as opposed to keeping an old one? So doesn’t that make client appreciation happy hour and holiday greetings important?

  3. A Coffey - Client Referrals Says:

    Good ideas here. It’s amazing how often referral marketing goes overlooked as a very powerful weapon in marketing and business generating activities. Thanks for reminding us.

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