If you read a lot of marketing B2B blogs like I do, you know that inbound marketing, social media, and SEO could not be any hotter. These are no longer trends; they are core components of growing a modern business. However, they are mostly about reaching people who don’t know you. What about those who do know you? We’ve all seen these statistics before, but they are worth repeating:
It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one – Bain & Company.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% – Marketing Metrics.
Your network (comprised of past and current clients, partners, and friends and family) is one of your most valuable assets. These people already know and trust you. A company that is actively leveraging its network can do the following:
- Provide third-party validation to help you win RFPs and grow your business
- Strengthen existing relationships
- Promote your own connectedness in the industry
The case study is one of the classic outputs of leveraging your network. A well written and designed case study can inspire complete strangers to say, “Wow, not only did they do great work, but they did it for a company just like mine!” Case studies also serve as a shout-out to your contact, something everyone appreciates. But how else should you be leveraging your network? Here are a few ideas:
Conduct a Survey
A well-crafted survey can reveal valuable insight, not only about your company, but also about the industry that your network operates in. You can also find out their latest challenges and objectives – some of the most important information you can glean. Before you begin, make sure you define the goal of the survey and write out questions that get you there. Depending on the scope, potential outputs could include white papers, industry analysis, or case studies.
Great customer quotes can capture the attention and add credibility to different media such as websites, press releases, media placements, and marketing collateral. More comprehensive testimonials can fulfill a proposal request or provide SEO value in the form of an online endorsement on a site like Google+ or LinkedIn. To put a voice and face to your customer and their relationship with you, consider capturing them on video.
Ask for Introductions
Your network can be your connector to more relationships that can lead to new business opportunities, but we often don’t think to ask, or don’t think it’s appropriate. Your network is your easiest route to making these new relationships, and often it can mutually benefit both parties. Remember, all you have to do is ask the question. This mentality is built in to the DNA of sales, but is worth reiterating for the rest of us.
Remember to Upsell
Another area we often forget, is the opportunity to upsell existing or past clients. Always think strategically about what more you could be doing for your network. What seemed unlikely last quarter, may now suddenly make sense today.
Remind Them of Your Work
Whether you sell products or services, it’s always a good idea to have a program in place to remind your customers of the great work you do for them. This helps to reinforce your brand, strengthen your relationship with your network, and improve communication. A good rule of thumb is to do this quarterly – we often revisit objectives and results with our clients on a quarterly basis and produce a fancy report that they can share with others involved in the decision-making process.
When marketing your business, if you are only targeting new customers you are letting opportunities pass you by. Your customers and overall network are one of the most valuable assets you own. They possess a treasure chest full of valuable information and opportunity. Learning how to leverage them should be big part of your business development plan.
What creative ways are you leveraging your network? Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog.
RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated media, social & digital strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.