by Motivation Expert Jim Cathcart
Business to Neighbors is often overlooked as a vital part of your marketing mix.
Within a few blocks radius of most urban and suburban businesses there are many other entities who share this geographic space with you. There are offices, service stations, coffee shops, convenience stores, quick service restaurants, grocery stores, repair shops, and retailers of all types. Among the neighboring offices there are law firms, accountants, technology consultants, marketing firms, hair salons, doctors offices and so much more. And every one of these people (including their employees and customers) drive right past you each week.
How many of them really know you exist? I mean, they are aware of your presence and they understand generally what you do, how many? How many of them do business with you and refer others to you? I see an opportunity, how about you?
Since they are within easy walking distance from your door, even on a bad weather day, you could reach them with no expense and little effort. Have you done so?
Here’s a thought: How about having someone simply walk the neighborhood and make a list of all the businesses within 2 blocks radius of your home base? List them all by business name and address. In office buildings take a photo of the building’s directory too. To make this project easy you might hire someone articulate, nicely dressed and polite to simply drop by each of the locations and exchange one of your business cards for one of theirs. Have them say, “We are based right here in the neighborhood and just wanted to say Hello and let you know that we are your neighbor. If we can ever be of help to you please let us know. Here’s our card. May I have one of yours?” Or, if you have a free-offer flyer or discount coupon or some other type of inexpensive ‘gift’ you can leave, that’s even better.
When you accumulate all the cards and notes of your neighboring businesses; start a Contacts List titled “Business Neighbors” and fill in what information you have as a beginning, with plans to expand each contact record over time. There will be turnover and some businesses will leave but your list can have many valuable future uses. It can be useful for business and even in the event of a local emergency should you need to reach out to others.
As you flesh out each contact record be sure to note the name of the owner or manager of the business and their main phone number and web address. Get their email too when you can and, of course, note their street address. In the Notes section try to describe what they do. If you don’t know; well, that’s your homework. Sooner or later, find out what they do. Set a goal to fill out 3 or more of their contact records each week till you are finished. Don’t turn this into ‘work’, just keep it in front of you until you have a really good Business Neighbors list.
Once your list is somewhat complete with just the basic information on each one, develop a marketing plan. Set the following goals:
- Learn the name of the owner or manager of each business.
- Understand what they do as a business. Who do they serve and how?
- Give them some information to help them understand who you serve and how. (Once they understand who your customers would be, then they can become a good referral source for you. It’s free prospecting!)
- Find a way to host or encourage an event that will bring all of the neighbors together. Help sponsor a ‘mixer’ or host a reception, or hold a demonstration of what you do, or invite them to a special event. Keep it low key and inexpensive and easy to attend, no planning on their part.
- Look for ways to refer business to them. Pay it forward. Give them reasons to appreciate you and to become curious about how they can help you too.
You will be amazed at how much business is right in your own side or back yard. Some of the people you know really well probably have offices or relatives who work there and you never knew it. Many of your customers do business with you Business Neighbors. Some of your former customers still come to the area to do business with others. Give them a reason to visit you again too.
Be a Good Neighbor…it’s truly profitable.
Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame