How powerful are word-of-mouth references to your business? The word-of-mouth reference usually comes from an existing client, someone who knows what you do, how you do it and why you're a notch above everybody else. Existing clients are powerful! 80 percent of my business is achieved through reference. This is why it is so vital to spend time with your existing clients, educating them and staying connected. How do you successfully leverage word-of-mouth references and build your business? You adopt the AEC and ABC policy. The reason I call this a policy is because it is very critical to have a business policy and follow it.
The AEC Process
The AEC policy is about Attracting, Engaging and Converting coming people as your ideal client. Your goal is to build an Ideal Client List (ICL), or a list of people who know about you through your AEC process. The key is to continually build this list by introducing more and more new prospects to your business. You must engage people in a creative, unforgettable way so that they will remember you. See what Benjamin says about involving people…
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." –Benjamin Franklin
The IDC list can be built using the AEC process through the traditional or modern sales method. I discussed these sales methods in my previous blog, Traditional vs. Modern Sales: Is There Room for Both in Small Business? The bottom line is that you need to involve people in order to convert them to the IDC list. For example, fortune 500 brands prepare you through the AEC process to buy their product by showing their ads where ever you go; television, websites, banners, radio ads, etc. They are following you!
The ABC Process
The Always Be Connected (ABC) policy is the process of moving people from your Ideal Client List (ICL) to your Active Client List (ACL), or the list of people who are doing business with you. The success of your business intricately depends on the constant growth of this list, and your ability to move people from the Ideal Client to Client list is the KEY.
You can also apply the ABC process to your existing clients to build referral business. I wanted to highlight once again that referrals are very powerful; I learned that 80% of clients do refer, but only when you ask. So, you need a system to ask for a referral. Fortune brands convert by offering discounts, influencing you through your friends, and staying in front of you so you see them when you need their product or service.
Business (Money) Is In the List
The greatest key to growing a strong small business is creating, tracking, and actively growing both your ICL and ACL through AEC and ABC processes. Growing these lists goes back to our discussion of stepping into the 60 percent of business that many small business owners make the mistake of overlooking. You must push beyond your comfort zone, establish your ideal client list, find out where your ideal clients hangout and then strive to establish and maintain a relationship with these people. I strongly believe that a quality list is a vital company asset; its value will increase based on quality.
"Whatever good things we build end up building us." –Jim Rohn
Marketing is an integral aspect of every successful, strong business. Its how you make your name known, establish a reputation and set yourself apart from the competition. Your goal should be to build two specific marketing strategies:
- One strategy designed to build your ICL through the AEC process: Accomplish this by identifying your ideal client and then actively attracting and engaging them. Educate them about your business. Be sure they know who you are, what you do and how to easily contact you.
- A second strategy designed to move clients to your ACL list through the ABC process: Once you've added prospects to your ICL list, it's time to keep an open line of communication with them and work on converting them to your ACL. Conversion can be as simple as continually educating them and guiding them to your product or service until they have an immediate need for it.
Marketing doesn't stop when clients move from the ICL to the ACL list. Marketing is just beginning! It's vital to stay in contact with your current clients and continually educate them. Establish that one-on-one relationship that keeps you in the forefront of their focus. They will then provide the powerful word-of-mouth referrals that will explode your business growth!
"Energy and persistence conquer all things." –Benjamin Franklin
In upcoming blogs, I will be discussing what tools, media and methods can be used for the AEC and ABC processes. There is a lot to discuss including: how we can measure AEC and ABC process results, how it can be optimized, how to track ROI and more. Stay tuned!