When it comes to growing a business, attracting new customers through partnership and existing customer referrals is a popular option. Why not let your business relationships speak for you?
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About Our Guest:
Owner - My Body Couture
Janis Isaman is the energetic and relatable owner of My Body Couture in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My Body Couture is customized individualized movement and nutrition coaching that can be done digitally or in-person one-on-one.
Though My Body Couture, Janis really focuses on a personal connection and establishing a relationship with both her clients and with her partners. Her approach to her business leads to life-long satisfied customers, great partnerships that are meaningful and provide results, as well as hot referrals that keep the growth momentum.
A Different Approach to Partnership Referrals
One thing that helped Janis grow her business in a new city with no connections was her willingness and drive to create meaningful relationships and business. When we discuss marketing we like to talk about how to reach customers and drive brand awareness, but the biggest brand ambassadors we have are those that directly interact with it every single day.
Janis works hard to create a meaningful partnership and doesn’t force a connection that isn’t there. She starts with how she networks and meets people. During our podcast episode, Janis mentions that she’s noticed how many people tend to separate personal and business networking when in reality the people we are most likely to do successful business with are often the same kinds of people we may find in our personal networks.
This does not mean that you can establish a great partnership with someone who’s not your best friend, but it means that you’re more likely to establish a great partnership with someone that you can relate to and get along with, especially if you’re a small business. You’re also not going to always meet your future partnership informal networking events or conferences.
Janis really boils down her partnership efforts to finding a best friend for your business.
The next step that Janis takes to establish a great partnership is working through a trial period where she will test her potential partner’s products or services and they will have the opportunity to experience hers for a time. This ensures that both she and the partner truly buy-in and trust before making a commitment. It also means that referrals come more naturally. When she’s recommending another practitioner for a service that it’s someone she can actually vouch for and would go to herself.
Refine Your Networking
Janis left us with a few parting notes to take about networking, something that can be hugely intimidating and difficult to make good use of if you’re not the charismatic social butterfly in the room.
There is no one-trick answer for successful networking, but it all boils down to nurturing the human connection and realizing that not all connections will work out. The important thing to realize is that professional relationships, just like personal ones, take work. Follow up is huge and important. Don’t just say you’d love to get coffee, set up a time to get coffee.
Another tip Janis mentioned was to note down something about each person you talk to, especially those you have an organic connection to. Make it something memorable, so when looking back you can clearly recall the person and why you were so interested in staying in touch.
Business cards are a great way to easily pass on information but they seem to be less popular as time goes on. More people are connecting on social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to stay connected, instead of just taking a card to stuff in a drawer at their desk with 50 other business cards. So focus more on connecting with the people you talk to and finding a reliable way to stay in touch. Quality does surpass quantity in networking.
Maximize Your Customer Referrals
Of course, with referrals, there are also customer referrals to consider. There is something rewarding in receiving a new customer from the recommendation of an existing one. You’ve done such a good job that your customers are growing your business for you.
Businesses have been incentivizing their customers to give referrals for a long time. A popular one is to offer a discount to both parties when someone is referred to. Companies like Airbnb, where customers create user accounts, are well known for this.
However, if you’re a small business or a business that relies more heavily on the longevity of a client relationship then offering that kind of incentive to every new customer means that their referrals are less likely to be reliable.
Janis waits until she’s had customers for a time before offering a great referral incentive or other rewards. In fact, rewarding customer longevity is where most businesses drop the ball, no matter the industry. Incentives and rewards, little bursts of appreciation for those who have stuck it out with you, don’t have to be just referral-based either. Adding in that referral bonus or incentive later down the road just increases your likelihood of receiving a good referral. Also consider not making it a stressful experience by adding an expiration date to that incentive (unless you have to).