Just as changes in new technology move along at lightning speed, your offsite marketing strategy in the digital age needs to be constantly tweaked to keep your business competitive.
As more and more businesses go online and jockey for “influencer” status, waiting lists for submitting guest posts to authority sites are getting longer, and social media updates are much more likely to get lost in a sea of virtual noise.
So, how can you differentiate yourself and court a steady stream of new prospects eager to learn more about what you can offer them?
Use other people’s customers. I’m not talking about going out and sneakily trying to hijack all of your competitors’ clients. That would be unethical…and it wouldn't earn you any friends in your business circles.
No, the customers I’m referring to are the ones who belong to businesses that aren't your competitors but who may need a service or product that you can provide. For example, if you own a business that sells bulk pallets of packing boxes, you may want to seek out moving companies to inquire whether your business can serve their customers. You could also try reaching out to real estate agents or art supply stores, both of whom have customers who probably have an occasional need for packing or cardboard boxes.
As with most marketing tactics, the key to getting the most benefit from this offsite marketing strategy is how well you set it up, execute it, and do an effective follow-up.
Step 1: The Offsite Marketing Strategy Introduction
Your first contact with a business owner whose customers you want to approach should make it apparent that your goal is to help them provide excellent service to their existing customers.
Just in case it’s not absolutely clear that you aren’t trying to swipe their customers, state upfront what your business is and why you’re choosing to make a connection with them. You may want to say something like,
“Hi, My name is John Jones and I’m a freelance website designer. I recently saw your article on creating unique business cards on XYZ website. I realize you work with a lot of small businesses and I was wondering if any of your clients may sometimes have a need for website design in addition to the printing services you offer?”
In the example here, a website designer is looking to offer services or information to a printing company's customers.
Other compatible non-competing pairs might be a massage therapist and a chiropractor, a real estate agent and a carpet installer, or a mortgage broker and a CPA. If you’re having trouble thinking of compatible non-competing businesses, try surveying your current customers to find out what other kinds of services and products they use in their business.
In this new age of AI, you can also ask Chat-GPT.
Step 2: The Proposition
The second thing you want to do after the initial introduction — again, to make it clear that your goal is to help, not to usurp — is to propose in exact detail what you’d like to offer your non-competitors’ customers.
The value of your offering should be crystal clear, and there should be no suggestion that you’re looking for something upfront in return. Remember that this is not a hard sell — it’s the start of an effective sales conversation that has a strong possibility of leading to ongoing profitable relationships.
Examples of useful things you could offer include:
- A free workshop – you can create an informative webinar presentation or hold a workshop on a topic that may be of high interest to your non-competing business’ customers; this is potentially a very compelling offer for the business you’re pitching because:
- He gets to offer something extra for free to his customers without having to do any extra work and,
- His customers appreciate the added value of his service or product, making him look good.
- A free consultation or an introductory special – offered exclusively to the customers of the non-competing business.
- A mini email course – which would allow you to stay in touch with the prospects and add them to your mailing list for future offers
- Collaborative service or product – i.e., if you’re a massage therapist, you offer your services to the customers in a local nail salon
Step 3: The Follow-up
Every marketing outreach effort must have a strong follow-up plan to be optimally effective.
Your non-competing businesses may jump at your offer, but sometimes, you’ll have to present it more than once for the recognition of its benefits to really begin sinking in.
Create a template for 2 to 3 follow-up emails that remind the business owner of your offer and outline some benefits that may not have previously been mentioned. Make these follow-up emails short and sweet, and don’t send more than 2 or 3 of them if you’re not getting any response.
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Step 4: Delivering on the Promise
Your promise, in this case, is basically to deliver a high quality product, service or information.
Whether the offering is free or discounted, you should be striving to bring your A-game to what you present. For example, if you’re doing a free workshop on how to know whether you’re hiring the right website designer, create a detailed, full-on presentation that delivers more than just examples of your work and testimonies from the people you’ve worked with. Include actionable advice, case studies of effectively converting websites and spend time answering questions from attendees. Essentially, do your best work and treat the presentation as if you’re already working for the client.