Most business people have at least 100 people they call their business associates, strategic partners, vendors, and related support services that they know well. Add to that clients, current and past, and that number easily becomes 500 or more based on how many years you’ve been in the business world. With a group of 100 or so, formalities are not necessary. That’s because behavior can be controlled on the basis of personal loyalties and direct contacts.
With larger groups, this becomes unwieldy if not impossible. By basing your marketing program on your “personal influence” will allow you to dramatically increase your influence and build market awareness.
The Strategy of 100 lets you establish a solid marketing foundation that can grow under its own strength and power which is far better than trying to push your brand messaging to people who: a) don’t know you, b) have no reason to trust you, and c) have many alternatives already lined up in your business area. This is why a “cold call” is so cold when the conditions are the person you are trying to reach doesn’t know you, doesn’t recognize your product/service, and already has a supplier for what you are calling about. 100 calls of this kind usually results in 10 or fewer actual contacts that lead to appointments, let alone business. Perhaps great for direct mail…not so great if you don’t have 40 hours a week for cold calling.
The Strategy of 100 lets you start with people who do know you, trust you, and will give you an audience. Often business marketers go straight for the big numbers using the big media and venues. This approach may be great for well-established brands such as NIKE or FEDEX or IBM, but how about the great majority of small businesses who don’t have global brand budgets?
Your better strategy could be the Strategy of 100. An important factor to realize is the 100 people you know each know 100 other people who trust them as much as they trust you. That gives you a universe of 10,000 people to potentially point your marketing.
If you decide to pursue this strategy there are five main drivers that will help guide your efforts:
1. Make sure you know which social media platforms are those that your key contacts are using. In any given industry, there are usually four or five main places where your clients are getting their information; these are the places you need to join, become an active member in, and offer helpful advice to help others solve their problems, but not as a sales representative!
2. Forge strategic alignments and partnerships with key industry drivers. Your best sales people are your clients so why not provide them with extra add-on services to gain deeper loyalty and trust so they will in turn advocate on your behalf? It’s the kind of self-producing strategy that can bring a strong return on your time and investment.
3. Share your information freely. One of the best ways to become a known and trusted brand is to offer insights in your center of expertise to all who seek them. This simple principle is a stumbling block for companies who want to guard their information not realizing that if they would only share it they would gain an expanded client network.
4. Know your industry well. Understanding your industry and being able to offer strategies within it will make you someone people seek out for advice. The more you know about your particular industry the more comfortable potential clients will feel about you and your brand.
5. Don’t overpromise beyond what your business can provide. Nothing breaks trust faster than an underserved client! The simple rule is deliver what you promise and only promise what you can deliver.
The overall strategy of 100 will begin to build your client base as you make it worth client’s time to pay attention to what you have to offer. The more relevance you offer, the faster people will want to get to know you and your products and services.