I've blogged several times about networking and how joining a networking group has increased my business. The tentacles of a networking web are infinitely effective in helping to find new business.
Lately, I have been reading about another networking-type marketing method—"host beneficiary" relationships. This method of acquiring new business is simple to do and growing in popularity.
The premise is simple. You create a relationship with an established business that caters to a target audience similar to yours. Then you promote yourself to that existing businesses database with a special offer, presented as a gift from the older business. Not only do you become instantly visible to the database of potential customers, your offer also comes with the implied endorsement of the existing business. Plus, your offer benefits the established business because it rewards their loyal customers without any cost to them.
For example, BMW and a women's clothing boutique collaborated successfully in one study I read. The boutique arranged to give a free silk kimono to every female customer of a local BMW dealership who brought in a letter the dealership sent to customers offering the kimono as a gift for their patronage. The kimono could only be picked up at the boutique. More than 600 women responded, picking up the $100 kimonos that cost the store just $16 per piece. Those 600 women spent an average of $400 on other merchandise during their initial visit. That means the boutique spent $9,600 to generate some $240,000 in sales, all while building their clientele.
Here are the steps to follow to make this "host beneficiary" relationship a success:
Create a detailed profile of your target customer. Who are your target customers and where do they shop, eat, vacation, work, etc.
Identify local businesses that serve the same customers you are targeting. For a cigar shop, logical host partners might include exclusive men's clothiers, upscale shoe stores, luxury car dealerships and country clubs.
Develop a clear offer for each prospective partner. Create a free or deeply discounted product or service that has a high perceived value for the customer with a low dollar cost for you. A computer support company can offer a voucher for two free hours of computer repair. A jewelry store might offer free jewelry cleaning to clients of a hair salon.
Pitch your plan to the host business, highlighting the benefits. Emphasize that this offer is a way for the existing business to reward their customers at no cost and with virtually no effort.
Supply a letter for the host to use. Ideally, your letter should be created on a document in which the host's letterhead can fit. Some companies will require that you pay the mailing costs. Others will include it in their monthly invoices. Others may send it out on their own dime because your offer makes them look good.
Create a long-term goal. Get potential customers into your bricks and mortar store. Create a relationship with businesses that need your services. Make appointments to meet one-on-one with new potential clients.
By piggybacking on the success of an existing business, you are elminating the need to reinvent the wheel. That's just good business!