The Art of Co-venturing in Business
Co Venturing in Business
Strategic partnerships create allied relationships that increase business of all the partners who participate by allowing other people to sell your products and services, exchange customer lists, endorse each other, barter for services, give referrals, and direct customer traffic.
How do you employ the other businesses in an effort to generate publicity? Lets say, a bed and breakfast has brochures and discount cards available and on display for a fishing charter business. That works out being a host/beneficiary relationship with the host giving a new customer to the charter boat captain. Now when someone makes reservations for fishing in the future, our boat captain can offer that customer an excellent bed and breakfast accommodation at a reduced rate and everyone wins. You reciprocate when opportunities arise by carrying each others cards and brochures. You also allow your co-venture partners the opportunity to give your customers added benefits by putting non-competing discount coupons at your counter.
When you ask other people to co-venture with you, listen to what they want to do! Go with it if it increases your business, and try to overlook personality conflicts in an effort to better serve your customer as the end result. (Your ultimate goal is to solve your customers' problems.) Our customers in real estate are most often our tenants.
Examples of ways to co-venture:
- With your employees using commissions
- With your vendors and suppliers by ordering more from a single source
- With your customers by giving special offer coupons for referring you to friends, - With other businesses by recommending and directing customer traffic.
There are three primary ways to go if you want to increase the prosperity of your business and they are:
1 Increase your number of clients. 2 Increase your average sale to the client 3 Increase the number of times your clients return and buy again
What is your strategy to achieve any or all of those 3 primary methods?
Here are some strategies to increase your number of clients:
Start by setting up referral systems, create a guestbook to capture names, ask your current customers for three referrals, offer free or reduced price incentives to new customers to acquire them for years to come. Use contests and drawings, mail to the lists of other businesses that have similar customers but do not compete with you directly. Call inactive clients encouraging them to visit you again. Can you market to the opposite sex of your core business more effectively?
Use all forms of advertising, word of mouth (best), direct mail, display ads, radio, T.V., signs, promotions, special events. Develop good headlines, copy body, and generous offers. You want to create Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action (A.I.D.A.). Now set a goal to get x amount of new customers and measure your progress by sales figures, body counts, coupons redeemed, new names acquired, find out how they heard about you and track your advertising dollars and results.
Analyze, measure, and quantify results while continually improving upon successful results. Employ the data and test, test, test!
How to increase your average sale to your client:
Use Risk Reversal with unconditional money back or better than money-back guarantees. When clients have nothing to lose, your performance soars. Hire super sales people who use scripts to sell with proven methods. Up-sell your customers by giving them an opportunity to add options to upgrade to higher or better services or products, cross-sell by offering products or services that enhance the value, function or performance of what they have already bought.
Educate your customers by creating reports, guides and newsletters which educate them to buy and use your products or services, offer more products and services to choose from. Ask yourself what are people spending money on now? Offer that product or service; create irresistible offers that people cannot refuse. 2 for 1, buy 2 get one free, coupon books, discount gift certificates, have surveys that ask customers what they want then go get it and sell it to them. Motivate your employees to sell more through profit sharing, incentives, rewards and recognition programs.
Lead your customer to what they need by listening to them. Do you have or give sales training, do your sales people use scripts, and can you list 7 things to offer every customer you have? Make a list and offer your best benefits, products, services and programs, offer higher quality, a larger plan, extended warranty, an extra way at 'price to your customer. This is add-on up-selling that generates additional value to that particular selling event.
Name the most profitable part of your business'
do more of that! Make it easy for your customer to buy from you. Remove the barriers and give further incentives for them to buy still more.
How to increase the numbers of times your clients return and buy again.
Your first step is to know who these people are. You must track, capture and manage your existing customer list, who buys from you, who has bought from you, what do they buy and why. Get your list together, names addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. It is absolutely critical that you have a list of who buys from you!
The reason for this is 10-fold. It is much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. The existing customer buys more from you when they do return. Your current customers already trust you, so they can convert other people into customers for you by word of mouth testimony and through incentives that you give them to give to others.
Direct mail is the key to using your list to its maximum potential. Using the phone to follow up after the sale is your second best use of the list.
Your first step is to compile your list, computerize it with tracking programs, like Goldmine, and File Maker Pronto, or Excel, even if it is just a computer database by alphabet that is sufficient.
With your list, you now have the power to mail special offers, newsletters, reminder cards free reports, information, thank you notes, calendars, referral vouchers, surveys, samples, 6 times a year as a minimum. You should contact your current customers.
The phone is used to follow up after the sale, to reassure them and thank them after the sale. Also this allows you to ask if there is anything else you can do for them, while finally asking for their referrals.
Trade the list and/or endorse your co-venture partners, now you have a valuable asset. In fact your list of clients or customers is the most valuable asset of your business, because if you don't have any buyers you have no business. Your list is a gold mine and you must use it to its full potential.
Using your list, Let me give you an example of how to trade or exchange your list. Let's say our charter boat captain has 500 customer names on file. Lets also say, he writes a nice letter that tells how nice this bed and breakfast is in town that he knows about and that with his letter, this bed and breakfast will give his valued customers something for free' a discount, preferred service, or some bonus.
Now the bed and breakfast operator is given permission to mail that letter to the captain's list of clients. This can be huge for the following reasons. The captain's customers already trust him. His customers get a special value deal, the bed and breakfast gets a warm lead endorsement to a non-competing complimentary similar customer base and new relationships and business are generated for the cost of a letter. Now the bed and breakfast does the same for the charter boat captain, and everyone wins!
That is an example of trading, sharing, selling or endorsing using your list. You give added value to your customers and you get more customers by using your lists in non-competing complimentary ways.
This is also a form of stealth marketing because your direct competition doesn't see or hear your marketing effort at work. They don't see ads or hear radio or anything else. Meanwhile you're not paying and spraying to attract attention. You are laser beaming to a warm, targeted prospect, while you come endorsed through a trusted friend for less than $1.
Targeting with Direct Mail Targeting means to define who your best potential customer is and going after them with strategy and tactics to acquire more or new business from them.
How to define your dream customer = ask yourself these questions! Who needs what I sell, who would buy or use me often, who can afford what I offer, who needs it, uses it, and can afford it. (Dream customer). What do you sell, service, offer or do?
Using your U.S.P. to define yourself and your market.
Define your Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.) or Customers Buying Advantage. (C.B.A.)
1. What is the core activity or philosophy of your business?
2. How do customers get the highest and best value by buying from you?
3. What do you offer that no one else can compete against you on?
4. How do you personalize ultimate solutions to your customers problems?
5. How do you save them time, money, relieve stress, fear and pain and give them a safe, secure, happy and trusted emotional feeling of value.
Answer those questions and you will be able to offer, select groups of people an ultimate product or service solution, which is highly valued by that targeted client. You will be able to charge more for this product or service due to the value it now represents.
Always try to personalize your products & services!
Ask yourself: If I could choose 100 people or companies to have as my customers, who would they be, tailor your solutions to their needs and offer risk-free trial offers to get them to try you now.
Developing your business operating procedures and profile.
Start by building your core story according to your philosophy. It is proven that when you are the spokesman for your company you will have a 30% higher response rate to your offers. You should write your job description so that anyone could follow it. Ask your employees to write theirs also. When you review what your employees think their job is, look for miscommunication in what you see. Often, you and they are miles apart on what you expect.
The above helps you to define a policy with clear rules and procedures. Every employee should be able to explain every other employee's job to some degree.
Are you working on your business or in your business?
Order & Stock
Sell & Transact
Schedule, Perform, or Deliver Product or Service
All of the above plus
Payroll, Taxes & Insurance
Personally Representing the Entire Enterprise
Business Builder / Owner
Organizing & Financing the Business
Defining what the business does
Hiring other people to manage it
Structuring for long term growth or sale
Monitoring the operations.
Financing the ventures
Investigating overall productivity
Monitoring returns on investment
Either increasing or decreasing cash provisions.
Reallocating or diversifying as required.
It is in most cases best to be in the B or I quadrants so as not to lose sight of your mission, goals, objectives and purpose. Otherwise you can become an overworked, bogged down slave to the grind. Just be aware and delegate unproductive activities. Stop and take time to work on your business, not in it. Ray Kroc did not build McDonalds by flipping hamburgers himself!
First survey yourself by answering the questions that apply to you in this report. Then survey your employees asking them what they think, see, feel and understand relating to your business. You will do well to ask for their ideas on how to improve as well.
Provide after the service, exit surveys that ask your customers multitudes of questions that are aimed at getting any information you want, if you ask! People will tell you what you want and need to know.
When you have answers to the questions above then you can ask yourself what you can do to achieve even higher and better results. A simple question to ask is how can I right now raise the quality of my product or the level of service that I offer?
You will need to set goals that are specific, measurable, acceptable and realistic. Involve your employees through motivation and incentive programs, training programs and one hour a week company meetings that discuss and review your current strategies and tactics used to accomplish your objectives. Gather, quantify and measure your results and then act upon the data that you have found.
I'm leading towards strategy here, but these are really goals.
My goals are to out-think, out-plan, out-promote, out-perform, out-service, out-smart, out-sell and out-earn my competition, while under-promising, and over-delivering to my customer or client, more benefits, protection, advantage, savings, safety, security, productivity and satisfaction.
In order to achieve those goals, I will use a strategy which attempts to educate my employees to help me turn customers into salesmen. Develop a U.S.P. and C.B.A., co-venture with other businesses, watch my competition, advertise under the radar screen, define my customers, educate them and get referrals, test measure and define the best practices, reduce operating costs and use risk reversal, all in an effort to better serve my customers and clients needs, wants and desires more effectively.
Now the tactics to use to implement that strategy are:
Define the customer, build or compile the mailing list, get referrals, give samples, discounts, special offers and guarantees, provide free valuable information, that educates my customer, recognize, adapt and adopt my competitors best practices, use referral cards that equal discounts to the new users, capture names through contests, promotions, drawings, coupon redemptions, applications, guest registers, co-venture and trade lists, then use e-mail, phone, fax and letters to personally connect with those people, while strategically placing cards, brochures, and discount offers at other locations to drive more traffic to me!
Hmm, if that don't work, nothing will, so goals, strategies and tactics really will make a difference in how successful we are, but it's the little things that can make the difference. This next section is on general advertising methods and the nuances of human relations.
When you use public advertising you are also announcing to your competitors what you do and how you are doing it. This in essence gives them a chance to counter your offer, duplicate it or modify their ads in some way in order to cancel you out. Radio, TV and newspaper ads are expensive and generally are a pay, spray, and pray form of broadcasting your message.
I prefer to zero in on special segments of the population or my target audience and give them special incentives and discounts to encourage new business. I don't throw money to the wind. I use the ad budget to enhance value directly to qualified leads and current customers. (Word of mouth does the rest.)
My competition generally never knows what hit them until it's too late and by then I have more loyal customers than I really need. This is relationship building based on performance, trust and value. That being said, you are going to have to work, smarter and harder than your competition to provide superior performance, value and benefits to your customers.
Your job is to solve your customer or clients problems, to make sure they are 100% satisfied, and to follow up with them to insure it.
Do you look after your customers as if they were family? Do you remember their names, smile and greet them at the door when they come in, offer refreshment and ask them what brings them by today. Don't ask 'can I help you?' ask 'what brings you in today?' It gets them talking and you don't get the standard reply of 'Oh, I'm just looking.'
Instead of using newspaper ads with icons, dollar signs, color borders and bold text, why not use personalized letters, with discount offers and vouchers to be given to friends, encouraging them to try your services or products out on a risk free, and special offer basis.
Try sending different letters to different existing clients, using different offers, headlines, discounts and specials. Measure the response rates of your targeted mail offers, you might provide articles, pictures of staff, referral promotion winners, or valuable information that educates and endears your customer to you.
By using direct mail, you can gain market share without revealing publicly that you are on a mission to grow your business, give them a service blitz, and risk reversed guarantees, discounts, with irresistible offers. Use pass-along coupons and referral cards to get new customers.
Here again, find a way to pay your existing clients for new referrals. These are warm leads and are proven to be your best source to sell to.
Here's the wrap up:
Answer these -
Do you currently have, use or do the following:
Do you have?
- A marketing strategy?
- A goal and measurement process?
- A referral program?
- A current customer list up-to-date on file?
- A unique selling proposition defined?
- A list of 7 things you can offer using a script?
- An employee incentive/training program?
- A policies and procedures rules and guidelines manual?
- A sales superstar at the front desk? And on the phone?
- A company meeting once a week to plan, measure, strategize, and execute your ideas?
Do you use:
- Direct-mail, Phone, Fax and E-mail in marketing?
- Tracking or computers to update mailing lists?
- Sales letters with special offers to get people to come in?
- Risk Reversal and guarantees to remove customer fear?
- Other businesses to promote you by endorsement, referral, co-venture list trading - Surveys to get answers and information that you need?
- Use contests, promotions, coupons or special offers to get new business?:
- Strategy and tactics to achieve your objectives?
- Word of Mouth advertising to generate warm leads?
- Stealth marketing techniques to avoid detection and save money?
- Professionals to help you implement new campaigns?
Do you do the following?
- Count and measure customer activity?
- Network with other businesses and co-venture?
- Offer tactical incentives to generate more business?
- Mail out letters at least 6 times a year, track, measure and test response?
- Follow up with customers after the sale?
- Look after employees and clients as family
- Have goals set for future progress
- Cross-sell, up-sell, and re-sell through backend customer contacts?
- Stop to work on your business, not in it. (Plan, strategize, use tactics)
- Capture and file every new name that you acquire?
- Always greet your customers by name with a smile within 15 seconds of entry?
- Watch and adapt and adopt your competitor's best practices?
- Write advertisements that grab the reader with benefits.
- Do you make it easy to buy products and services that people want?
- Keep your employees informed and involved in your plans and strategies.
- Identify and educate your clients.
- Do you try new ideas?
Do you ask people to help you implement, plans and programs that you are not familiar with?
Network to net-worth, by helping others to succeed you will too!
As a final nail in the coffin of ensuring you are providing valuable service you may consider running down the following list to see if you have done all that you are capable of when trying to help another!
Wearing Leadership Goggles
(Viewing things through other people's eyes)
By Dan Auito
The following is a list of ways that can be used to measure potential actions when we begin to formulate ways that may be employed to successfully help another person. Use the following checklist to help you understand what other people need and to also see how you may be of service to others.
Read the following list through each time before attempting to offer a detailed solution to someone else's problem. You may find if you are standing in their direct presence, you will reserve judgment initially in order to further take the time necessary to develop an appropriate and usable suggestion, strategy or tactic.
- Empathize with people. How do they feel?
- How can I guide, lead or show them how?
- How can I be the authority for another person's benefit?
- How can I understand the way they feel according to their problem?
- How can I support a person through a situation of opportunity?
- How can I help them understand and focus using definitive facts?
- How can I further define the situation for others?
- How can I help others to act with a purpose in their mind?
- How can I explain to others what to do with certain information and why?
- How can I put what people want into words and build it for them?
- How can I create greater benefits, protection, advantage, financial savings, safety, security and productivity?
- How can I make people the center of attention when appropriate?
- How can I recognize the hopes, fears, desires and emotions of others?
- What problems can I help other people solve? What can I do for them?
- How can I reassure and motivate people to take action with my advice?
- Remember never to assume anything, always ask!
- How can I make people feel good and enhance and protect their lives also?
- How do I appear credible when telling other people what I can do and why?
- What do I have to give? What benefit do I have to offer?
- People tend to feel out of control, confused and unstructured. How can I give them control?
- How can I give people examples of how something will or has worked?
- How can I get others to commit to action for their own benefit?
- How can I show them, instead of just telling them how to do something?
- How can I become more believable and understandable with my claims?
- How can I help someone solve their problem today?
About the author:
Dan Auito is a dual-licensed real estate agent and appraisal assistant. Dan is a 20-year veteran of the United States Coast Guard. He has acquired over 1.3 million in real estate assets in 14 years while also founding a non-profit drug prevention corporation, a real estate consulting group and is the author of 'Magic Bullets in Real Estate.' This 300-page power-packed book (due out in early July 2004) comes with a website that further supports its readers. Dan lives with his wife Kimberly and their two children, Brandon and Briana, on the emerald isle of Kodiak Island, Alaska.