Category Archives: BNI

Network marketing: The greatest misconception

home exercise equipment

Network marketing (joining chambers, BNI, associations) is a terrific way to build a business.  In 2007, networking was responsible for over 50% of my new business.  I hear this echoed by dozens of business owners who join a business networking group.

On the other side of the aisle, though, are dozens of business people who join business networking groups, and then when their membership renewal is due, they fail to renew.  The MAIN reason they give:  It didn’t get me any business.

How do great networkers differ from poor networkers?

What’s the secret to great networking?  How come some businesses thrive on networking, while others fail?  One of the great misconceptions of networking is that by joining a roster, you’re gauranteed business. A roster spot does not mean a thing. Just because you’re listed on a Chamber of Commerce roster, BNI roster, or Builders Association roster, you can’t expect business.  Sure, you’re a member…on paper.  But it ends there.  You’re only going to get back what you put in. I’ll present to you a great analogy.

Home exercise equipment is a lot like networking

I was talking on the phone to Janet Kruger from Lights On in Mankato, Minnesota about commonalities in Builders Associations.  A local builders association has many members — some are active, and some are not.  What Kruger said, made a lot of sense to me.  “Home exercise equipment is a lot like networking,” Kruger explained.  “You can’t buy a piece of exercise equipment, and expect it to work if you don’t use it.  If you exercise daily, it will work.  If you don’t, it becomes little more than a clothes hanger.”  Kruger was Associate of the Year in the Minnesota River Builders Association.

Three ways to maximize your networks

Here are three specific ways to get the most out of any network you belong to:

  1. Join a committee. Get involved.  Meet other members by working together.  Show them your talents.  Let your work be your testimonial.  Become part of the leadership of the organization.  It starts with involvement.
  2. Attend the meetings. Whether is business-after-hours or membership meetings, use every chance you get to meet people face-to-face.  Business comes where it’s invited.
  3. Ask for appointments using this phrase:  When could we meet to discuss ways to help each other grow our businesses? What smart business owner is going to say no?

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

No low-hanging fruit in 2008: Survival marketing tips

low hanging fruit

If you’re a business owner or salesperson, the days of easy sales are over.

From WiseGeek.com: A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may be not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest. From this we get the popular expression “low hanging fruit”, which generally means selecting the easiest targets with the least amount of effort.

Low-hanging fruit. Ready to buy. Easy money. Not in 2008. News media continues to pummel us with messages that we are in tough economic times. Duh! And as a business person, you sense that money is tight. Consumers and businesses are watching their budgets. What are you going to do to survive?

Three survival marketing tips to carry you forward

1) Stop dwelling in 2004. A lot has happened since then, and it’s long gone. You need to commit to a new mentality. Don’t do the same advertising and marketing you did in 2004, because everything has changed. Accept that. You’ll need to market differently in 2008.

Newspaper circulation is down. Reevaluate your print advertising. Television is fragmented. Reevaluate your broadcast advertising. Yellow pages readership is declining. Reconsider your spending here. People are spending more time in front of their computers. Reconsider your internet marketing presence. People are time-crunched. Consumers are given more choices. What was good enough marketing to get you where you are…is not good enough to carry you forward.

2) Find a specialty. In marketing, it’s called a niche. In advertising, it’s called your Unique Selling Position. It’s the thing(s) that makes you different. Why are you special? If you are a real estate agent, your niche is not first-time home buyers. Go deeper than that. Where do they live now? Where do they want to move to? Married or single? Kids? FICO score? Be specific.

If you’re a company that thinks expanding product or service lines is the easy ticket to increased sales, you need to rethink that proposition. Be better at fewer things. We are entering an era of specialization. We can thank the internet and keywords for that.

3) Increase your networking skills. Commit time in 2008 to broaden your business network. Ask business people to meet and discuss how you can help to increase each other’s business. Join a BNI chapter if you haven’t already. My membership to Star of the North BNI was responsible for over 40% of my new business development in 2007. BNI is the world’s largest referral and networking organization. Find a chapter near you.

With networking, whether it’s the local builders association, a BNI chapter, or the local chamber of commerce, you get out of your membership what you give. Don’t expect to sign up and reap rewards. It doesn’t work that way. A spot on the roster is worthless…until you get out, meet people, and exchange business.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com