There are few businesses for which networking and the impact having a long list of contacts can make for your business than in exports? Whilst having a solid circle of business contacts that you can leverage upon should the need arise and to whom you're equally adding value regularly should sound like common sense for any business, the truth is many business owners overlook this important element in their marketing mix.
Before we delve into the various ways in which you can build your database lets first look at the reasons why it's important to have a solid circle of "˜business friends':
Growing your business
- when it comes to growing your businesses, there's 2 tactics that are usually the most effective - increasing sales and reducing your operational costs. Tips and ways on increasing sales is an entirely different matter and not the purpose of this post so we won't discuss that in great detail. However, as you probably know already, one of the ways you can do that is by having a group of contacts that know you and your business well is like having a team of unpaid sales staff doing all the selling for you and usually not wanting much in return! Think of it as marketing on auto pilot.
And the same goes for reducing operational costs - there's a lot of good and dedicated resources on doing this which you can find elsewhere. But one thing to bear in mind as an export businesses is that it's essentially very Human Resource (HR) intensive and managing your employees
effectively is of utmost importance.
- As discussed above, your contacts can help send a lot of business your way. And because there's usually nothing to pay, the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) of that new customer will be much lower than if you compare to leads you generate through other marketing channels such as Facebook or Google AdWords etc.
Over time, this can have a big and positive impact on your business profitability which is of course always a good thing.
The quality of referrals and leads
- if you've been in business for some time, I'm guessing you have many customers who you've gained as a result of your contacts and referrals. I'm also guessing that if you look back, you'll find that the average order value of these customers you've attained through your contacts is higher (in most cases). Why? Because you'll have to work less to make the sale as they already know you and since they trust your contact, they somewhat have an inbuilt trust towards you.
Ok, so how do we go about increasing your contact database?
Here are some ideas:
- it's a great tool to find people who you may already know and build your relationship with them. There's literally books written on how to do social networking so we won't go into that however bear in mind that your goal is to build relationships not just increasing your "˜Connections'
LinkedIn is especially useful to source contacts overseas. Unlike traditional Social Media like Facebook for example, LinkedIn is made for business and it's quite easy to find potential contacts in countries you wish to do business with.
- if you're exporting overseas, there are websites and directories built for the sole purpose of finding you contacts. Many websites like Alibaba also offer advanced search allowing you to drill down to the sector, industry and even city postal code and deliver potential leads.
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