"Cultivating your champions and fans"My small business hasn’t used formal advertising in years. Well, very little. And the advertising we do is mostly “traded” for products and services. Most of our new business is referral based. We have kept track over the years and at least 80% of our business comes from a referral.

In Part One I talked about creating a list of  CHAMPIONS for your small business – those who refer your company to others on a regular basis. Next, review your list every 3-6 months. When someone on the list hasn’t sent you business in a while, pick up the phone and call them. Just call to say HI. To see how she or he is doing and find out if there is anything you can do to help them. Don’t ask for business or a referral. Just listen.

Now that you have reviewed your list, focus on those FANS who love doing business with you but don’t think to refer others. Here’s a few tips to help you turn those FANS into World Class Champions:

1. Make it a habit to ask every customer why they chose your company. They will appreciate the opportunity to tell you and their trust and confidence in your company will increase.

2. Let them know you are building your business from referrals and that you appreciate and value any business you send their way.

3. Educate them about the products and services you offer. When you providing a product or service, give them a little more. When we send a floral arrangement or plant to a customer, we include care instructions. Our brochures and fliers tell customers about the value we provide our customers. Share these things with your FANS. Arm them with enough info so they can go out and “sell” for you.

4. Reward them. When they share their “circle of influence” with you, be very grateful. Tell them, show them. Make a referral to your FANS in return when possible and appropriate. Every time your FANS receive something of value from you it will remind them to send more referrals your way.

5. Follow up. The FAN may send customers your way or give you names to call. When they give you names, make sure you follow up. Call and introduce yourself and mention where you got their name. One of my biggest accounts came because a FAN told me to call a new hotel that was about to open. I called, offered to help with their Grand Opening Celebration and they are now one of my best customers. And they refer their patrons to us! That FAN became a CHAMPION because we rewarded her. What comes around, really does go around.

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning your offline marketing is to stay top of mind to your customers, fans and champions, alike.  Remind your FANS that you value them. Provide impeccable service all the time and you will turn those fans into your greatest CHAMPIONS. Having CHAMPIONS on your small business team is like having an uncompensated sales force working for you all the time!