Network to Market, Market to Network:
Even if your small business offers a must-have product or service, your success will be limited if your target market doesn't know who you are and what you do. Traditional print and broadcast media, and an online presence are very important tools for reaching your desired demographic; but effective small business marketing also requires a personal touch. You must hone your in-person networking skills or you might miss some important opportunities to grow your business.
At Markon, we recommend following 5 networking tips to amplify your marketing efforts:
Learn to target your market: When you concentrate your networking efforts in a targeted market, you do what big businesses do every day. You figure out which prospects want/need your product and services... and have the money to pay for them. Then you focus your networking efforts on that demographic. Proctor and Gamble is a big corporation but they provide a perfect example of networking with small business style. They sponsor major family-oriented community events and set up booths for access to the attendees. Representatives continue to grow the P & G brand by meeting and greeting their buying public, and passing out samples and coupons
Always dress the part: Networking is a 24/7 effort; so dress accordingly. You are your business. Wherever you go, whatever you do, your image should remind people that you’re a professional before you say a single word. That doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit to the grocery store on Saturday morning. Business casual will do just fine; but before you walk out the door, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Would a customer in my target market buy stocks, financial planning services, jewelry, insurance --whatever I sell-- from that person?” If the answer is no, make a quick clothing change and don’t forget to grab a handful of business cards.
Go where your market goes: Once you’ve targeted your market, don’t just run an ad campaign and hope the right people come to you. Until they figure out that you have what they need/want, you must make it personal. Go to them.That doesn't mean walking through your target market neighborhood or business district and yelling like a street vendor. It does mean hanging out where your target market hangs out --civic clubs, fundraisers, social events, trade shows, college reunions, grocery stores-- and making a sincere effort to fit in. It can also mean becoming a familiar part of the market you’re trying to target.
Join a civic club..
Donate to a worthy cause (Make it a check to remind them who you are).
Volunteer your time.
Offer to be a guest lecturer at a meeting or event.
Keep it simple and short: Before you begin your networking efforts, figure out a simple but intriguing personal intro that captures the essence of who you are and what you do. Try to keep it under a minute. People get bored easily. Networking should be a simple, brief exchange of information. Remember, you’re not trying to make a sale right then and there. You're trying to make contacts to help you build a foundation for the future.
Leave something behind, take something when you go: Once you've interacted with your target market, don’t just walk away. The memory of your award winning smile is a great offering, but business cards are also a perfect leave-behind. They’re small, colorful, informative and inexpensive enough to give away to anyone who crosses your path. Before you walk away from a new contact, get a name, a business, an email address, a website. Get something that will help you reconnect with your prospect. If you're not good at asking for personal details, ask, "What do you do? Do you have a website?" As a question that will open the door to a give-and-take of information.
Markon can help.
A professional image is crucial to networking and targeting the right market. Contact us and we can help you build your brand with a memorable logo. We can design and produce the signs, business cards, and other key promotional materials your business needs to succeed. We can help you let the world know who you are and what you do.