If you’ve ever been interested in trying something new, it’s natural to be hesitant. Normally, a person will do research or ask a friend for their opinion. Have you ever felt so passionate about a product that you wanted to run through the streets screaming about it? A word of mouth referral from a trusted source is better than any internet review, so as a business owner, the most effective way to get your product referred is through champions. A business champion is someone that believes in and understands your product and will help sell your product/service. They should also be willing to talk about it and refer people to you. Here’s some ways to enlist these champions:
– Utilize Your Existing Network
One of the easiest ways to build is to use a network that you have already taken the time to vet. You never know who may be interested in your product and willing to support you. A simple conversation or check-in can lead to potential business. You can especially leverage the people that you’ve worked with successfully in the past. They can vouch for the way that you work and the quality. If you keep open lines of communication with past and present customers they will have no problem with telling people about your services. Some businesses even provide a written clause in the contract stating that a testimonial will be required at the summation of service.
– Keep Current Customers Happy
In order to get more of anything, you must maintain what you already have. This is especially important when looking for champions to refer you to people that they know. A great way to keep customers happy is by listening and engaging. Social media has made it a lot easier to engage with customers even when you aren’t selling anything. Not only can you maximize your brand’s personality using social media you have a direct line to how they feel, what they think and what they want. It’s the age of transparency so it’s difficult to hide who you are and for a business to be successful you have to put yourself out there. Be clear in what you are offering and do not over promise and under deliver. Your customers will understand that you are a human and treat you accordingly.
– Offer Incentives
If you’ve ever heard the saying you have to give something in order to receive then you know the same works for business. If someone champions or refers your product you should thank them properly. You can do giveaways, reward programs, or discounts. This will give the client added motivation to want to refer you to people that they know. Incentives can also include valuable content that is given to customers in email campaigns, through e-books, or free audio or video content. A loyalty program can also encourage customers to champion you. Allowing them a certain amount of free or discounted products/services for every referral is also acceptable.
– Network With Other Startups/Businesses
Another way to build your network and enlist champions is to form relationships with other businesses. One way to do this is to find business owners who are in different industries than you. By doing this, you can seamlessly refer each other for your respective skill sets. If you’re a designer you should network with developers and content creators. This way, when you have work that you aren’t qualified for or have the time for you can pass it along in your network. Networking is also a great way to give back in your community outside of just transactional business. Getting to know the people that are in the area goes a long way in terms of engagement and champions. People can genuinely get to know you and champions are more likely to refer someone that they trust and like.
Sekinah Brodie is a Marketing Assistant at Penji, a graphic design startup offering unlimited graphic design at a flat monthly rate. She is a community leader supporting her peers and local businesses with design, marketing, and community engagement. As a graduate of Hopeworks ‘n Camden and Montclair State University, she is experienced in web development, design, and communications. Sekinah enjoys writing and constantly learning about technology, entrepreneurship, and diversity in startups. She strives to empower women and minorities with job opportunities, career development, and positive representation.