Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Walking Out

At age 26 I walked out of a good paying job because I thought I could see into the future.

I was one month away from working for this company for four full years. I had two weeks of vacation a year. I commuted an hour each way to work. I was making enough money to pay my bills, travel once in a while, and save money. I hated almost every minute of it and if I stayed I would have been able to retire from the company at age 65.

I looked at 39 more years of this and without any plans on what to do next I gave my two week notice. That afternoon I paid off my car loan and three days later I started a 3 month driving tour across the country. I was searching for something, but I didn't know what it was.

I loved to help people and wanted to have a more satisfying life - so I became a full time entrepreneur. It was a long road from there to the Referral Institute - but that was the beginning.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I am Motivated!

I was at a great networking event a few weeks ago. I met many business owners and one of them asked me what I specifically helped business owners do to work less and play more. We talked about being specific with who their target market is and who good referral sources could be. I told this business owner that I help my clients by teaching them 18 tactics to motivate their referral partners and 15 ways to promote their referral partners.

This sole proprietor said, “I am motivated! I was invited to a networking event and I told everyone I knew about it and I was the only one who appeared! I am motivated! I don’t need any help in being more motivated!”

When I help business owners grow their business by word-of-mouth we go back to the fundamentals of referrals. All referrals come from relationships. All of these relationships are with people. If we would like to have more referrals – we have to start with motivating the source of all referrals – people! When I teach business owners how they can motivate referral partners we talk about personally inviting people events (as well as 17 other tactics).

Each of the tactics is delivered with the purpose of the tactic, the specific benefits, the steps to carry out the tactic effectively, and the applicability and requirements of the tactic. The next time you have the opportunity to invite a referral source (in order to motivate THEM to pass YOU referrals), keep these factors in mind.

Your goal with these tactics is to motivate your referral sources to generate positive word-of-mouth for you. The easiest way for them to do this is to be in front of people you would like to do business with and have them introduce you. They have to be there – so they have to be invited. This also makes it easy for you to promote them – if they are right there in front of people. If you stay home or if they stay home neither of you are expanding the circle of people who hear about you by word-of-mouth.

The best place to invite your source is an event that you are attending. Spending time inviting people to an event that you might not attend or cannot attend is not going to help you work less and play more. The purpose of inviting your referral source is to enhance your relationship with this person. They’ll get to see you in a different light. If it is an event where you are speaking or being recognized, then the event will add to your credibility.

Developing a calendar of events and invitations is easy! First make a list of the events and then a list of referral sources. Then call (email doesn’t work as well) and invite them with enough notice so they can plan to attend. In your call explain why you’d like them to attend and if they can attend pay for the entrance fee to the event if there is one.

As you are making your list with events and sources make sure there is a benefit or interest for your referral source. What are they trying to accomplish? What are their hobbies? Who would the like to meet? Ask yourself when was the last time you did a GAINS exchange and what you learned about the source.

If possible, ask your guests to invite their own guests.

While you may find that invitations often are turned down – continue to do so. Make sure you are matching the right events with the right people and giving them plenty of notice. When you invite them they’ll think a more highly of you for making the personal invitation, they’ll have a better understanding of you and what you are interested in, and they will be more motivated to help you grow your business by word-of-mouth.

The 18 tactics to motivate your referral sources was first written by Ivan Misner and Robert Davis in the book “Business by Referral”. These tactics are included in detail in the Certified Networker course. As a certified instructor of the material I teach these 18 tactics to my clients so they can grow their business by word-of-mouth.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Calculating Needs

While on vacation this week a business professional asked me for a little more information on what the Referral Institute is and how I help business owners. They were interested in me, but I came to find out that they were also considering starting their own consulting business as a marketing copy writer. They had over 15 years experience in marketing writing and were wondering if it would be possible to get enough clients to launch their business.

On every Referral Institute region’s website is a tool called ‘Pipeline’ where business owners can put in six specific pieces of their business acquisition statistics and find out how many referrals they need to grow their business to their goal. My copy writer consultant friend and I were hiking – so we did the math of Pipeline in our heads.

Her personal goal was to work enough to pay all of her bills, spend time with her fiancé, plan their wedding, and spend time with their mixed family of three dogs. Her financial goal was to make seventy thousand dollars in the next year. We conversed our way through her business and here are some of the results. She would like to charge $50 to $75 per hour for her copy writing work. She lives in the Boston, New Hampshire, and Southern Maine market and this looks like a reasonable starting rate. Her average project is about 25 hours. Each project of this size will bring in about $1250. She will need to work with about 60 clients (actually it is only 56 projects) to hit this financial goal. Have you spent time figuring out your financial goal, your average client revenue, and how many clients you need to engage with?

Her experience shows that about fifty percent of her clients will probably hire a copy writer a second time in the first year they work together. If she has forty (40) clients and half of them (20) hire her for more work in the next 12 months, then we’ll get to 60 projects in the next year. To get to 40 clients we have to have referrals. Her estimate is that about two-thirds of referrals she’ll receive will become clients. Most clients I work with have been operating for three or more years – this makes knowing the real close ration a lot more specific. I have clients tell me that in the last 12 months their close rate is 56.1%. I know they are honestly tracking referrals and closed business. Are you tracking your referrals?

My copy writer friend will need 60 referrals in the next year to get 40 clients which will lead to 60 projects. Does she need 60 referrals this week? Nope. Does she need 30 this week? Nope. Does she need 10? Nope, although that would be great! She’d like to work about 48 weeks this year, so she’ll need 1.25 referrals each working week of the year (or about 5 referrals per month).

While that may still seem overwhelming to a new marketing communications copywriter consultant, if she has five solid referral sources (people who share her target market and do not compete with her), then she only needs one referral from each of them each month. She no longer has to rely on her own cold calling or door knocking ability, or a large cash investment in advertising. She can focus on developing the right relationships with the right sources and from there give enough referrals and receive enough referrals to hit her financial goal, her personal living goals for the next year, and her work goals.

I help business owners to work less and play more by calculating their referral needs with a tool called Pipeline. If you are trying to figure out the value of an individual referral or how many you need to grow your business, visit and under the Tools menu item select Pipeline. Or call me for a Pipeline Consultation and we’ll talk through the calculation and what it all means to growing your business by word-of-mouth.

If you are in need of a brilliant and fun professional marketing copy writer who is looking to help organizations in the southern Maine, southeast New Hampshire, or Boston areas – I am happy to make the introduction to you. She has a passion for helping high tech (software, web applications, hardware, and biotech) businesses communicate their message to their vendors and clients.