Five Steps for Expanding Your Customer Base with Guerilla Networking
As a single company, it is impossible to provide your customers with all the services they desire for every aspect of their life; but with guerilla marketing, you can come close. By partnering with companies that provide different, yet complimentary, services to your business, you can create a network of reliable resources for your customers. In turn, your company will gain credibility and strength from the size and stature of the group.
The goal of the guerilla network is to expand your customer base by being a part of a diverse web of companies that will appeal to a wide range of customers. Because your company will be the only one in this web to offer your unique product category, every customer who enters into the web will be referred to you for that specific service.
To establish a guerilla network, you must first consider what other resources could be provided for your customer outside of the products and services that you have available at your company. Get to know your customers to discover what other services they generally need when considering your products.
Could they use a designer to help decorate a home gym for the new treadmill they just bought from you? Or how about pet supplies for the dog they walk when using their new pedometer? Whatever it is, think outside the box! More variety means more customers.
2. Make a list
After brainstorming potential additional services, it is time to narrow your search and prepare for the recruitment process. Make a list of the product and service categories that you think will be beneficial in the guerilla network that you wish to create. Then, list specific companies that fall under these categories. Naturally, you should start with companies that you have referred customers to in the past, and who have, in turn, referred customers to you.
Expand that list by thumbing through your local yellow pages or searching the internet. Choosing local companies will give you the flexibility of working with partners who are able to make marketing decisions at the local level, without the inconvenience of running it by their corporate office first. Add companies that you instinctively feel may be fitting for your network. Do not forget to continuously update this list, even after you have moved on to the next step. The longer your list, the better chance you have at building a large and powerful network.
3. Do your homework
Once you have a substantial list of companies in which you are interested, begin researching them. You will want to know if they are a high-end store and if you want their customers frequenting your business. Determine whether or not the company is one you would like to be associated with. Do they exemplify the values that are most important within your own company? Be selective and remember that you will be sending your best customers to their company. Their service will be a reflection of your company and its values.
Look for companies that have taken the time to create and maintain an impressive website. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about their business and will provide countless opportunities for marketing within your network in the future. You should also try to recruit companies with strong brands, so that your brand will strengthen when you co-brand with them.
4. Establish contact
After you have learned about the companies on your list, you should begin establishing contact with them. Your means of presentation will vary depending on what you are comfortable with and how you feel you will best be received.
A letter is obviously not the most effective means of initial contact. It can be impersonal and easily discarded. It does not demand their attention like a personal visit will. However, it is a simple way to cast a wide net and see what you catch. You should use this method if you simply do not have the time to visit these businesses individually, or if you have enough relationships already established in your community to recruit 3-5 companies into your guerilla network right from the start.
I recommend that you simply ask the owner for a few minutes of his or her time. You can initiate this meeting through a letter, by phone or by just walking in. Because you are not selling anything, this meeting should be relatively easy to set up.
These few minutes with the owner will allow you the chance to determine if they are the type of person with whom you can work. You will also explain who you are and what you will accomplish through this partnership with local companies. Impress the owner with a professionally designed and bound brief of your strategic plan. These professional packets include company logos on a few conceptual pieces that could be used in a guerilla marketing program.
It goes unsaid that this network will generate more traffic for your business, so focus their attention on the benefits THEY will receive from the network. Let them know that you have already noticed that some of your customers would be great referrals for their business. The promise of immediate results will be sure to catch their attention.
5. Follow through
After you have established a relationship with the company, be sure to follow through with your arrangement. Everything you and your guerilla partner agree to do needs to be thoroughly discussed and put into writing. You should set up parameters and expectations of the marketing program and agree on a specific date to begin and end each program. When the regulations of the agreement are clear, both parties will be more likely to follow through and benefit from the guerilla network.
The ideal partnership is one that remains balanced: each company putting in an equal amount of work and reaping an equal reward. By becoming a part of a strong guerilla network, you will be a major resource for each customer's unique needs. Your company will gain ideas, support and loyal customers from partnering companies and your marketing audience will expand dramatically without the costly risk of traditional advertising.
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