3 Of the Best Offline Business Development Strategies

There are multitudes of marketing strategies, both online and offline.

However, the very best and most effective strategies, which you have the most control over, are those that target your ideal clients directly.

Think of these two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You purchase a list of 1,000 contacts that meet your criteria of an ideal client profile. Think about marketing to that list of 1,000 names.

Scenario 2: Be really specific in who you would like as a client, and do the research and draw up a list of five or ten companies and the names of the appropriate people inside them you would like to work with.
Think about marketing to those ten people – to Jane, and Mark, and Jeff, and Sally and…

Doesn’t having a very clear picture of who you are marketing to make you hone in on what your messages need to be? Why would those people want or need to work with you? Why is your solution the right one for them? Why would they choose you over other businesses?

Visualising the people you want to market to, versus a nameless ‘list’ will definitely improve your chances of success. If you use all or some of these strategies, you will be able to market to your selected five or ten people directly and personally.

The concept of directly marketing to your ideal client applies equally for B2C marketing, but the execution and scale will obviously vary. This example focuses more on B2B marketing.

Strategy 1: Referrals – But Not a ‘System’

There are many ways to do this as a ‘system’, but my personal preference is to ask for referrals and introductions from clients who love you.

Turning referrals into a ‘system’ has an air of entitlement, and I don’t think that contributes to good business practice. I know that when people hand me a deck of cards (yes, a deck… could be their business cards or cards with a special introductory offer) and ask me to give them out to people, it usually bothers me. On the one hand, I feel a sense of obligation, simply because I’ve been asked, and on the other hand, I feel that the relationship has been ‘violated’ in some way because I now have an onus of obligation by receiving the cards!!

I don’t need cards to refer people to new business opportunities. I do it all the time. A personal referral is far more compelling than handing someone a card with a special offer – I think.

If you ask clients and connectors who love you, if they could refer you to someone who has a business or challenges ‘just like theirs’, you have a far greater chance of being introduced to a really great contact who could become a prospect.

By turning a personal form of marketing into a ‘system’ with expectations and an onus of obligation on others, in my opinion, is not the way to do it.

Done the right way, with the right people, this is a great strategy to connect directly and personally with the right people.

Strategy 2: Outreach to Specific Targets

As outlined above in scenarios one and two, an outreach program is likely to have more impact when you have more control over who your target market is. If you think in terms of specific contacts, you can then start thinking about how you reach out to those individuals in those companies to introduce yourself and your business. You can see them in their office; you can develop a sense of what they would respond to and what sort of communication would have the most impact.

When you draw up your list of ten, let’s say, be clear about the industry or niche they are in, the size of the business, their challenges, and think about the real fears and frustrations of the people you want to target.

When you have that information, you can start to craft your message:

  • what do you need to say to get their attention
  • what do you want them to know about you
  • what do you want them to do?

You have complete control over who you contact and how you reach them. Learn as much about them as you can before you prepare your marketing campaign.

There are many ways to implement an outreach program, including the next strategy. Typically, it includes mail (email or direct mail pieces via postal mail), phone, in person follow up, special offers, invitations and calls to action (you want your prospects to do something once you’ve contacted them).

My final piece of advice on this strategy is this: what would work for you? What have people done in the past to get past the gatekeeper and get to you (in a good way, not in a way that has a negative impact on you)? Use this as a screening test for your program strategy, before you send out the first piece of your outreach program.

Strategy 3: Host Your Own Events

When you host, you have control over the guests, the format, the selling and marketing around it. That’s what makes this such a great strategy.

Reasons for an event:

  • a celebration of something
  • a launch of something (product, service, alliance, new business unit, book, etc)
  • calendar events: end of financial year, Spring Racing Carnival (for those in Melbourne), Grand Final Eve (for those now in all states of Australia), Christmas, etc.
  • Entertainment – speaker, entertainer, music etc
  • Social – good food, good wine, good group of people, music, fun

Keys to remember:

  • The purpose is to make new contacts and likely prospects
  • Ask your guests to invite a friend or colleague who may be interested in knowing your company or other guests (if you ask the right clients and connectors to do this, they’ll bring the right kinds of guests for you to meet. You don’t want someone to bring the junior from their office – because that doesn’t achieve your goals as host).
  • The goal is to create a great experience for your known guests, as well as your new guests, and send the right messages to the people you are trying to get to know and turn into prospects
  • Do it well – don’t skimp, make it a quality event, and again do the ‘test’ – ask yourself if you’d have fun if you were a guest.

Offline strategies are always required as part of your overall marketing program.