Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need to Keep in Touch to Get More Referrals

The phone rings.  You answer it.  The person on the other line says, “Bob Smith suggested I call you.  He said you can help me.”  Ahhhh!  It’s a beautiful day!!!

How often does that happen to you?  Probably not often enough.  But with a little marketing planning, you can dramatically increase your referral business.  The result is bigger sales for your small business. The most important thing is to keep in touch with people on a regular, consistent basis.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Most small business owners know they need to do these things.  But few have any type of marketing system for keeping in touch with the right people.  Even fewer small business owners know the right way to ask for referrals.

Who should be on your contact list?  

EVERYONE!  Past clients, prospects, business associates, friends, neighbors, even people who at one point thought they might use your services, then changed their mind.

The biggest mistake we make is to think, “Oh, those people know what my small business is. I don’t need to market to them.” 

Yes, your neighbor, your banker, and the people in your Rotary group probably do know about your business.  But when they think of you, they think of you walking the dog, making a deposit, or organizing a meeting. 
 
Because they don’t see you in your professional capacity, they don’t think of you that way–unless you use a smart marketing strategy to remind them.  And, as much as we’d like to think we are unforgettable to our past clients, they start to forget about us in as little as six weeks!

Obviously, when making a marketing plan to keep in touch with your contacts, time and budget need to be considered.  You will want to see some people once a week.  Others will simply get a monthly e-mail newsletter.  No matter what, talking about your business, mailing personal notes and cards, and sending regular e-mail newsletters to all of your contacts is vital to building business. 

 
By marketing to your contacts on a regular, consistent basis, you will ensure these people think of you whenever they hear of someone else who might need your product or service. The result? More referrals, more business and more sales!

Tips to Successfully Sell a Small Business

When you started your business you planned to grow it as a lifetime enterprise. Now, for whatever reason you have decided to sell your business and cash in on all your hard work. Maybe you want to stock up all over again in another field of business or maybe you just want to put up your feet and relax. Since selling a business is normally a once in a lifetime venture, it is unlikely that you would have any prior experience unless you have started or sold several small businesses in the past. Here is some good advice to get you started with selling your small business:

Defining your business sell expectations
In order to conclude a successful sale of your small business you need to plan the sale meticulously and the first step is to define your expectations:

  • Do you want to sell your business for cash or will you accept payment in another form such as stock or debt instruments?
  • What is your price expectation
  • What expectations do you have of the buyer in terms of business continuity and tradition?
  • Do you want to sell out to the public in an IPO or to your employees in a ESOPs scheme?

Timing and financing
It can sometimes take a long time to negotiate and conclude a sale of a business especially if there is complicated tax issues involved. The majority of small business sales involve some form of seller financing such as deferred payments so that you may not see a large lump sum of cash payment up front. Give some thought to the risk and how you would like to structure the small business seller financing.

Valuing the sell of your small business
You would need a detailed and sensible valuation of your business in order to justify the price that you will be asking for it. Decide on the method that you’ll use since methods may vary with the kind of business involved. The judgment on whether you will use asset value, replacement cost, or capitalization of earning or some combination thereof depends largely on your judgment and what a potential buyer will accept.

Re-doing your small business financial statements
As long as you are running your business, how you present your financial situation is largely dictated by tax considerations so as to minimize your tax bill. You will probably need to recast your accounts to show the true earning potential to backup any business valuation that you undertake. Though you should probably be cautious as to whom you show these records and consult an attorney in the process.

Sell small a business with privacy
It’s a good idea to sell your business with concerns for privacy. You should conduct all your sale negotiations in secret and restrict people in the know to as few information as possible. If word gets out that you are selling, you will find key employees leaving the company or being recruited by competitors, you’ll also find suppliers pulling lines of credit. This will simply impair your ability to get a decent price for your small business. The sale of a business usually screams financial troubles, you don’t want the wrong perception to get out in the public about your small business.

Use a competent small business broker
If possible use a competent business broker. Get referrals, shop around, and research. S/he will help you set a realistic price, identify and approach potential buyers in the strictest of confidence. Remember that s/he has a vested interest in getting the highest possible price since their rate for services rely on commissions of the sale.

Selling a business can take time, but due diligence will prove to breed success. One can expect a sale of their business if they’ve took the needed measures to ensure that their small business is aligned in a direction of growth and they are able to prove such statistics.

The Importance of Online Communities For Business

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein. When it comes to sharing business content with your online communities, offering information to others that is of value will ultimately make your business successful.

There are many reasons why being a part of online communities contributes greatly to the success of your business.

  • Universal exposure: As part of an online community, you are able to reach people around the world and it is as though you are all in a room together, interacting on issues that are important and interesting to all of you. It is incredible that you are now capable (through social media) of reaching numerous people at once from one location. This allows you not only to market your business easily and successfully but also lets you do a large number of other things connected with your business. Remember that connecting with your online communities does not mean that you should be giving those people a hard sell. You should be sharing valuable information with them. You are educating the other people in your online communities about what you do and what you offer. You are allowing them to get to know you and your business.
  • Learning from others: As a member of an online community, you have the opportunity to learn new ways to market your business from other marketers. You should take advantage as much as possible of the expertise of other people who are members of your online communities and put their principles into practice, where appropriate.
  • Strategic partnerships: You will have many opportunities to form strategic partnerships with other members of your online communities. There will be a lot of synergies between you and others and if you find that your skills and expertise compliment those of people in your online communities, you should approach them and see how you can work together most effectively. Of course, you cannot form business partnerships with people unless you get to know them and they get to know you. Nobody will partner with another person unless they trust them and find them to be credible.
  • Make the most of your online communities: Remember that you need to market yourself and your business through your online communities. Make sure that your online profile is complete, which means that you need to include more details about yourself than your business. You should include a statement about your business but a more comprehensive discussion about your business offerings will occur after you have posted and syndicated your content.
  • Choose your online communities wisely: It is important to choose your online communities based on the members with whom you want to interact. It is not enough to choose an online community based solely on a demographic, ie, a geographic location or an age group. You should be very selective about your communities and make sure that the other members in your online communities have enough in common with you and your business and are really excited about interacting with you online.
  • Build your online relationships: It is very important to continue to develop relationships with those people with whom you interact online. A good way to do this is by continually sharing information with them that you feel they will find valuable and that will help them in some way. Not only will your online connections want to interact with you but they will also speak favorably about you to others online. The more comfortable and the closer your relationships with them become, the more opportunities you will eventually have of selling them your products and/or services. Make sure that you make the effort to not only establish the relationships but also make sure that you maintain them for the long term.

Conclusion

Being a member of online communities for business and continually establishing and maintaining online relationships is critical to the success of your business. With the extreme popularity of social media, many people are excited about interacting and developing relationships with others whom they feel they can trust and who they consider experts in their industry. At the heart of your success is the human element. Once people really get to know you and you get to know them, they will want what you are offering and will gladly tell others about what you are offering too.

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