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The power of planning

6 steps to creating a strategic word-of-mouth marketing plan  

By Hector Cisneros

In dealing with business people that are considered “top-notch networkers,” there always seems to be a common thread in what they say has contributed to their success. Many times their answers are similar, and oftentimes they are blindingly obvious, but yet these “top-notchers” seem to be the only ones doing it.

How can you be as successful? Try creating a word-of-mouth marketing business plan with these six items that were in all of the top-notch player’s plans.

Top-notch game plan

• Set goals. If you look at most successful people, you will notice they have their SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) written down. This is so they can review them daily and assess their effectiveness every four months. Make sure your goals are visible and with you at all times, perhaps in the form of a dream book or a goal board.

Following an old adage that says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you will never know how to get there,” you want to perform your goal setting in the early months of the year.

• Obtain strategic partners. Strategic partners may be other businesses that sell or service the same customers, but they don’t compete directly with your business. Making these people you’re referral partners (i.e., earning their trust and building a mutually beneficial business relationship with them), however, is a powerful way to multiply your efforts without multiplying your W-2 numbers at the end of the year.

You can also make a list of who is in your contact sphere and list which categories are missing from your networking chapter. Once you know who is on your list, you can start earning their trust so referrals can happen, and you can start recruiting people to fill the gaps.

You want to try and have about five or six strategic partners, but a dozen or more is ideal. With a dozen strategic referral partners, you will be able to give many referrals and get just as many in return, if not more.

•Be accountable. It can be lonely at the top of your organization because some aspects of your business cannot be easily shared with employees or others in your company. This is why a third-party unbiased neutral professional is best way to go.

Get a coach, join a peer group or find a mentor or friend that is not afraid to tell you the truth and is not fearful of damaging your relationship. You need someone to hold your feet to the fire and keep you performing specific behaviors and working toward achieving your goals.

•Use your resources. Look at what resources and educational materials are available—books, tapes, CDs, MP3 video, DVDs, etc.—that can help you stay on track. The TV, radio, and regular new sources, however, can be a big source of negative distraction, which you don’t want.

If you want to be the best at anything, you must immerse yourself in that subject matter in a positive way. The longer you stay immersed, the more focused you become. The more focused you become, the more things “just seem to go your way.”

Feed your fire with positive knowledge and maintain your focus by immersing your mind on what, when, where, how and why of your industry and you will achieve your goals.

•Plan a calendar. Use your calendar to lay out your plan. Take the time to break your calendar into smaller campaigns, such as planning to deliver a specific focused and consistent message for four to six weeks, while still aligning this focus with your goals.

For example: If you are in the health and wellness industry, you can piggyback your message on to events like cancer awareness month and heart disease month. During those months, your focused message is how your product or service can help individuals with those issues.

Your focused campaigns can be based on holidays, annual events, political events, seasonal events, periodic events or even events dictated by your company—or a combination of all.

•Make it happen. Lastly, and just as important as the first five, are filling in the details and making it happen. Once you’ve created your goals, chosen your specific direction and decided on the themes for each month (or period), sit down and break each week into individual behaviors to perform.

Your theme may last four to six weeks, but you should change-up your message just enough to keep your strategic referral partner interested and listing. Your message may be your 60-second presentation, your elevator speech, a 10-minute presentation or a 45 minute seminar—what matters most is you stick to the theme.

Last points

Everything stated above still requires that you earn a person’s trust, and that you take the time to build strong and giving relations with your strategic partners.

These six items do not necessarily constitute the “be-all, end-all” of marketing plans, however it’s a great start.  Although it is not an exhaustive list, it does provide needed help, especially if you have decided to build your own strategic plan.

Experience shows that is if you do the six action steps listed above and hold yourself accountable, you will get more referrals, make more money and grow your business.

Hector Cisneros is a 17-year veteran of BNI and was the BNI Director for more than six years. He is an entrepreneur and businessman with more than 30 years of networking experience, and currently manages three businesses and educates business people in Internet and word-of-mouth marketing. He can be contacted at 904-712-9355, hecisneros@gmail.com or through his blog at www.networkersapprentice.com.


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