How to build awareness for my networking services and differentiate myself from competitors?
My business is related to business networking conferences and seminars and the aim is to create a powerful network of business relationships that will increase my business visibility, credibility, and profitability. More over, through this business I will generate opportunities for hiring people.
Through business networking conferences I want to build healthy business relationships, to generate leads and referrals, to achieve success from successful people and to give back from my success to the society.
Even though there are a lot of events, seminars and conferences on business networking in the romanian market, there is still room for improvement mainly in how to use business networking to grow a business, to generate sales, contacts and new business.
The help I need to develop and grow mu business:
- to identify and create a strategy to develop such a business (business networking events) in a tough competitive market.
- to build awareness for my services and to promote, advertise my services in order to differentiate my self from companies with similar business activities which are well known in the market.
The expected outcome: to organize successful business networking events and to start building Business2Business Connections as a successful brand in business networking area.
I think your existing strategy is good and solid. Based on your comments you seem to know where you want to go. Based on your statements it appears you may be stuck in implementing your current strategy. I am going to throw some questions at you to give you some things to consider.
1. I'm betting you have a lot of business cards already. When you go to these events, as you speak with people one on one, have you considered taking a laptop or a computer with you to have people opt into your services/website to get more information on what you do?
2. Do you have a website that helps sell your services and promote you?
3. Have you taken the time to sit down with yourself and take a hard look at what you actually do differently than the other businesses like yours?
4. If you have done number 3 above, what are you doing to get others aware of your differences which set you aside and makes what you do better for your client?
5. Have you considered a survey of the services you currently offer to the people you have met already? (Survey's can be quite beneficial in your market to identify what people really want; instead of "us" as business people thinking that our services is what prospective clients need.) It's a way to change up your thinking. Perhaps you could consider a survey through www.surveymonkey.com or other services like that one.
6. Should you decide to use a survey method to get more information and knowledge; then you can revamp and implement your strategy to fit your clients needs.
I hope that makes sense.
I would love to read what you do and what worked for you in the future.
Have a great day.
You have two options as I see it, which are similar to the options for a computer programmer who provides a computer network service:
(1) You can provide a quality service one step at a time, or
(2) You can be an expert at general services.
Unfortunately, the first one is hard and the second one is difficult.
Which one suits your specific mien and situation, currently? That might be the right answer, whichever that is.
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all for taking the time to answer my questions, I'm grateful and very much appreciate your help, I realize now that I've started without having a proper foundation to my business, passion is good, is necessary but is not enough. The information you provided will help me to draw a business plan and to start again this time in a more documented and professional manner.
I'll keep you posted with the progress (I hope this is alright with you too).
Thank you so much again,
I would start by outlining your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
Second, I would create a spreadsheet of all your competitors, outlining their key messaging, products/services, pricing, note their customer verticals, targets, and forms of advertising (online display, dm, social etc).
You must find a way to differentiate yourself and use compelling messaging that articulates your competitive value.
Third, model your ideal customer - what do they look like, where do they spend their time, and then be there...consistently with an editorial calendar and messaging that highlights your points of differentiation, your values, your competence and why I should do business with you vs. someone else.
YOU CAN'T BUILD AWARENESS WITHOUT A STRATEGY, AND TACTICAL PLAN TO GO OUT TO THE PUBLIC - AND I HOPE BEFORE YOU DO THAT, YOU HAVE YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER. that means a beautiful website, one sheets that describe what you do, recommendations and testimonials to showcase your accomplishments and build trust with your audience.
And most importantly, in your business, you need to network with existing organizations- leverage large bodies of knowledge - people that promote panels, the press, business leaders that want a platform to discuss their agenda. Create events and do it beautifully so word spreads and advertise on digital platforms so people in the workplace can find you (that means linkedin, not facebook)
Hope that helps!
Hi Viorica, This is a very common question. often asked a bit late in the process.
Even if everything is the same between your company and your competitors in every way, There is still something that helps you to stand out. To be different to you competitors, I'l tell you what it is. It's YOU.
Therefore there are at least two areas to work and focus on.
1st one is you. Who you are, what you stand for, what you are bringing to the table, How you are going to enhance the experience for your client.
Why the prospect should choose you, and why they should stay with you.
For this you have to be your self, you have to know who you are and what your values are, What and How you are going to "give back " to the community.
Just making the statement is simply not enough. You should also understand that you will not win everyone. But the ones who "get you" will support you.
2nd is the company, it's products and service. What it is that makes you different. Work through your "SWOT" analyses. The actual (as you see it)
The perceived (as your prospects see it). The competitive (as your competitors see it.) and also your competitor (how you see your competitors).
This is were you need to be brutally honest. if you suck some were say so.
if they are all over you, say so.
Marry your SWOT and the perceived this way you can identify some "cracks" within the actual and the perceived.
Marry your Strengths with your Opportunities, Compare this against your competitors S & O. The points that you have against your competitor becomes your sustainable advantage. (SA) your SA becomes you main points of difference. which you highlight as a feature and benefit. This is something that you can use to draw prospects to.
A quick example Subway in their advertising used a SA " We make it fresh" which is a fact, compared to say McDonald's who at the time was pre made and assembled. But now the pre make but assemble "fresh"
3rd thing, is to highlight the difference, with a reason for prospects to use you.
Highlight the benefits, in terms of answering the internal questions. "What is in it for me?" Highlight the tangible and the intangible.
Never highlight the competitors failings, only highlight your side.
Ie. The burgers are better at ...........
If possible speak about the experience, the facts and the emotions.
Take them on a journey,
Regarding the awareness side.
From the work completed above, you should have a great picture of the type of prospect that would benefit from you service. Along with the why and how.
You then need to capture their attention. The best way is to meet them in the market place, show your presence in the same places they are most likely to be.
Use Social media like LinkedIn and join the discussion groups that they are active in. Put down a few blogs, relating to your companies experience and or customers experience, create some discussions around one application point at a time. Do it in such a way that generates discussion, as questions.
There are many more different ways, but I think for this discussion I have indicated enough for you to at east get started.
Conferences and Networking events normally do not generate buinsess opportunities directly. But they can be a powerful forum for building your brand and develop relationships. From my experience I have seen that an event should be around a topic of common interest, current importance and thought leadership.
This helps you to build a brand and you are seen as a business that brings vision and expertise. Naturally, the topics, the participants and the area should be relevant to your business so you bring in the network that you can eventually d business with. Such platforms help you build relationship much faster and more effectively, compared to when you meet a person first time trying to solicit business or sell something. Hope I have been able to share some perspective here.
?Che fach, Viorica?
1} Starting generating expert content, whether it be blogs, videos, etc the more content you put out the more value you will bring your network.
2}Make it easy for those to network with you and always give before you ask.
3}Create raving fans. They will do the work for you.
oh. and never. never. Never. Stop. Networking.
I like Ania's answer the best so far since it addresses the first item you feel help is most needed: a strategy.
Her answer also addresses how you might differentiate yourself. My suggestions concentrate on this need:
1) You have to have a website that is head and shoulders above your competition
2) You have to create a business card that does not get thrown in the trash
3) You have to become an excellent public speaker. This means to an individual and to an audience; large or small.
4) You have to find a way to get free publicity; there are many ways to do this including volunteer work
5) As with all successful businesses, you need to put more than 40 hours a week in and pay attention to all details. One example of a detail are taxes and licenses. I've seen so many businesses fail because they neglect to cover all their bases.
What are your three top value-adds that you provide that will motivate business owners to join and grow your networking community?
this is a hard one to answer let me think on this one for a day or two.