Like most professional firms, you have limited resources for marketing. Therefore, your marketing efforts need to be both effective and efficient. Here’s one idea. Let’s say your potential customer base is small and medium-sized businesses (SME’s). You can initially narrow the list of potential clients to certain industries within a short distance of your firm. But often, that’s still too many to effectively reach. One solution is to focus on referral sources – other professional firms that already have dozens of small businesses as clients, but don’t compete for your services. E.g. If you’re a law firm, you target a CPA firm who has many SME clients. The CPA firm has already earned their client’s trust and if they recommend your firm for legal work, it’s likely you’ll get it. What motivates the CPA firm to recommend your firm? Your firm reciprocates. When your law firm’s clients need tax and financial assistance, you refer them to the CPA firm. By successfully connecting with just one other professional organization, your firm could potentially gain dozens of new clients. But how to connect with professional firms? LinkedIn can help. First, pick a medium-sized professional firm close by. It’s easier to build a relationship with someone down the street than miles away. Go to their firm’s LinkedIn page and click “see all” In the employees box in the upper right corner. LinkedIn allows you to sort by college attended, groups they belong to, function, etc. Or just pick an employee and scan their profile for some common link. Maybe you went to the same college or worked for the same company or share an unusual hobby. Ideally, you want to connect with a decision-maker, like a partner, if possible. It may take some digging, but remember the payoff. Creating a relationship is the first step to building a referral source. Give it a try. Most people are generally open to talk to someone with whom they share something. Once you find someone with something in common, send them a Connection Request. In the Connect Request you can use the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”, or customize it with what you have in common. Either way, what’s important is that they connect with you. Once they do, send them a reply thanking them for connecting and noting what you share in common. Keep it casual. Just try to start a conversation. After some initial conversations, the next step is asking your new connection if they could meet to discuss the mutual benefits of referring each other business. Again, keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be at the office. Meet for coffee or lunch. At this point it’s just an idea. But it’s an idea that could blossom into many new client relationships and growth for your firm. Remember to focus your marketing plan and take advantage of LinkedIn. It’s an easy way to turn a cold call into a warm handshake.
Bob Andersen is a highly passionate writer and marketer with over 25 years of advertising success. He started his career as a packaged goods brand manager and his copy reflects his strategic expertise. The magic comes when he transforms smart strategy into simple, but highly impactful messaging.