Familiarity Breeds Clients

My son Jonathan is a genius. Not just any kind of genius, mind you… he’s a music-lyric-writing genius.

He roams the house singing original songs with lyrics so advanced for a nine-year-old that I am constantly interrupting him and asking, “Did you really write that yourself?”

Here’s an example:

Sometimes when the world comes crashing down
And I got nothing left to do, but sit around
I find the truth waiting there for me
Baby, come back to me, I’m sorry for what I did to you

Take a minute, I know you’re probably getting a little misty-eyed.

I’m also willing to bet that unlike my wife Linda and me, you don’t think those lyrics are all that amazing. Pretty good maybe. But genius? … Not really.

And that, my lyrically critical friend, is exactly my point. I think he’s a lyric-writing genius – and I’m not just saying it, I actually believe it – in no small part because he’s my son. I’m biased to the point where I can’t objectively evaluate how good he is.

Marketing works the same way.

You can try to convince the world at large that you’re the best. Or… you can focus on “performing” for the people who are already predisposed to believing it.

The people who know you – your clients, prospects, colleagues, vendors, friends, relatives, neighbors – give you the benefit of the doubt. They’re more likely to talk to you, more likely to listen to you, more likely to click on your e-mails, visit your web site, open your letters, pick up your phone calls, and agree to meet for lunch.

And yes, they’re also more likely to hire you.

Which is why when it comes to marketing my business and that of my clients, we divide the world into two parts:

Part One: The people we know
Part Two: The people we don’t know

(Note to my fellow liberal arts majors: Sorry for all the math.)

Then we spend most of our time (and money and effort) focusing on Part One. We choose tactics – thank you notes, check-in e-mails, autoresponders, event invitations, whitepapers, CD giveaways and of course, E-Newsletters – that leverage and reinforce existing relationships.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to gain the attention and respect of strangers. Whether that means posting on a popular blog, getting an article published in a local business journal, cold-calling an organization for which you’d like to work, or any number of other, “outwardly focused” tactics.

It just seems to me that until you’ve thoroughly shaken the “people we already know” tree, you’re not taking the path of least resistance (my favorite path) in the way you’re marketing your business.

You’re out there hoping to somehow rise to the top of the pile based on your merits alone. Me? Not to take anything away form my merits, but I’d rather utilize the unfair advantage I have when I interact with my existing relationships.

So here it is, the simplest professional service marketing strategy on the planet (suitable for framing):

“Stay in touch with the people you already know.”

That’s it. I’m sorry, I’d like to complicate it for you, but it really is as simple as that.