Most of us belong to some type of networking group. It could be the Chamber of Commerce, BNI or other organized marketing group. Many may belong to community organizations such as Rotary, Optimist Club, etc. The reason for joining these groups is hopefully to gain referrals and to give referrals to other members. We are trying to create a mini sales force for our business. This type of marketing can be effective, but sometimes it can be costly, or you just to do not get the right group of people to fit your business model. There is one network however, to which all agents have access.It is very cost effective, is the least utilized, but can offer the highest rate of return.
This mystery group: YOUR CLIENTS! Before you say I all ready ask my clients for referrals, I am talking about another type of referral. We are all very good about gaining information about our clients. We know the address, phone number, email, birth dates, anniversary, kids’ names and past travel experiences, but how many of you know what your clients do for a living? If you’re like me, you’re probably not sure for many of them. Many of our clients probably own small businesses such as we do or work for a company that may have a service or product for which we could refer other clients.
I have a long term client of seventeen years. She just recently retired from her job at a local college. I knew all about her job at the college, as that is usually where I could reach her during the day. What I did not know about her until just the other day was that she and her husband own a jewelry store that specializes in custom jewelry. She never mentioned this because (in her own words), she did not want to appear as a “pretentious snob.” This is an affluent client and the store is an upscale area. Most of their clients at this store are high-end customers, with more money than time. Can any travel professional ask for a better client? They do quite a bit of custom wedding rings. This clicked with me and now we are working together to try and refer clients to each other. The flip side of this was that I was able to refer her to a person in my networking group that is a personal bridal concierge. This bridal concierge works not as a wedding consultant but as more of a personal assistant to help manage the details of brides who just don’t have time. Her clients tend to be affluent, time-constrained brides (Bridezilla’s). This was a perfect fit for the jewelry store.
After this revelation, I went through my top 200 clients looking to see what information I did have on them. I found I had an accountant, computer consultant, mechanic, real-estate agent, suit broker, sign shop owner, restaurant owner, chiropractor and some other professions. I also found I had no clue what some of my clients did. What I did have was a networking group that already knows my business. And it took little effort to establish the network because I already have an established relationship with them. This is the perfect group: they know my business, so I do not have to prepare that one-minute networking group commercial, get up early to get to a meeting nor pay any annual dues. We all win!
The final (and future) benefit is that this group likely belongs to other marketing groups. The reach is literally endless and it was proven with my jeweler and bridal concierge. Part of my upcoming marketing plan for next year includes calling the clients whose profession I don’t know and inviting them out for a cup of coffee or lunch to see if there is a way we can work together.
Tim Richmond is a 20 year veteran of the industry and owner of Craig’s Travel in Southern California. The agency is affiliated with Nexion and TSI and specializes in customized vacation planning. The agency is 100% leisure. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.craigstravel.com