Wednesday, April 29, 2009

6 Steps for Client Focus Groups That Produce Loyalty and Referrals

by Bill Cates

Referral Coach International

Once upon a time, I owned a book publishing company.

Not only did I publish books, I brokered printing, and even did some training for printing and graphics companies. One of my specialties was running Client Focus Groups.

These took on a myriad of forms, but the basic premise was always the same.

We'd gather some of the client's top clients and customers into a room and talk about improving and expanding the business. These clients were given royal treatment and were willing to engage in these sessions because they had a vested interest in their relationship with the company.

Whether they realize it or not, your clients have a vested interest in your successful business. These meetings help solidify their interest in your success. The more successful you are the better you are able to serve them. Plus, many of them would be more than happy to help you just because they like you. It's time to tap into these relationships.

Step 1 - Identify as many groups as you can of about 8-12 "A" and "B+" clients who might be willing to participate in a focus group. You'll probably end up with 6-10 attending the meeting. Pay attention to how you group these folks, making sure personalities are compatible. Other small business owners, consultants, and salespeople tend to make the best focus group participants.

Step 2 - Working with one group at a time, invite them to a meeting with you and your staff to discuss/brainstorm how you can serve them even better than you currently are. Serve them a meal, breakfast or lunch, or both and give them the royal treatment.
Step 3 - The first item for discussion is how you are presently serving your clients. If you have one, discuss your client-service model. If you don't, formulate one for the group to evaluate and give you feedback on.

Step 4 - The second item on the agenda is marketing. Let them know the types of individuals you are trying to reach with the important work that you do. Let them know of any niche markets you are pursuing or are thinking of pursuing. Brainstorm marketing and referral ideas.

Step 5 -The third, and optional, item is to discuss any new products that you might want to make available to your clients. Discuss the value of these products. Brainstorm how you will talk about and present them to your clients. You'll get great ideas and many of these folks will want to know more about the products for themselves.

Step 6 - Take action on as many of the ideas they give to you as possible. But even if you can't act on all of them, stay in touch with them so that they know their time with you was well spent. Be ready for a lot of great ideas, as well as direct referrals.
Many of your clients will appreciate the opportunity to be "let into" your business. Many will love the creative thinking around service and marketing. Many will begin to think about your business, even when they are not in direct contact with you and will continue to share ideas as they come up.

Some advisors run several focus group meetings a year. Many of your clients will do this with you annually. Some of them would prefer every other year. If the thought of creating these groups is just too far out of your comfort zone, then schedule some one-on-one sessions with some of your clients - for the purpose of helping you serve your clients better and reaching more people with the important work you do.

What are you doing that's working for you with regard to referrals and client service? What isn't working? What topics would you like to see me address?

Maybe I can help. I'd love to hear from you. Send your questions and best practices to me at:

*Don't miss BILL CATES THURSDAY, APRIL 30th...for a special referral class...

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Skies in My World...

by Tammy de Leeuw
The Grouchy Marketing Lady

Financial Advisor Netzone

Grouchy is up to her red eyeballs with stuff- including some great web classes and webinars. Be sure to check them out:

Thursday, April 30th: "America's Referral Coach" BILL CATES presents a special class on referrals that you will not want to miss. In 1.5 hours, Bill will take you from "referral reluctant" to "referral savvy." This is the same material Cates presents to prominent financial institutions across the country. COST: $97

Register HERE:

Wednesday, May 6th:
Shama Hyder- one of the most influential young people in new media, will be giving you an overview of the social media phenonmenon. Learn what social media is and how it can help your business grow.

Wednesday, May 27th:
Join me, Grouchy, and my special guest Robert Breiner as we examine Send Out Cards, a referral system being used successfully by small businesses across the world to increase prospect attraction and client retention.

Stay tuned for even more Grouchy events as I diligently pursue the best tools, tips, tricks, people, places, and practices to help you get more clients and make more money.


Follow me on Twitter to get all the updates throughout the day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How To Train Your Referral Force

by David Frey
Marketing Best Practices

Are you frustrated because you give referrals to other
professionals in your networking group, but get few
referrals in return?

Or do most of the people in your networking group
already use your product or service and you feel as
though you have no where to go with them?

If so, you'll want to read ALL of this newsletter.

This one idea could be a breakthrough for you in your
referral marketing efforts.


You're Doing It All Wrong...

Most business professionals who attend networking
meetings or who belong to networking groups do it all

They go to networking meetings with the intention of
introducing their product or service to people they
meet and trying to close a sale.

That's the wrong approach.


Your Network Is Your Sales Force

When attending your next networking event, focus on
"training your sales force" rather than on selling your
product or service.

Your fellow networkers are usually ready and willing to
refer you business, if they just knew how to identify a
good potential referral for you.

Imagine you were training your own sales force. What
specifics of your business would you teach them to help
them easily identify a great prospect?

That's exactly the type of information you should be
sharing with your fellow networking group members.


Some Networking Do's and Don'ts


Use generalities like, "I'm looking for anyone who is
planning a vacation this summer."


Use specifics like, "If you have a friend in your
church or who you work with who has been talking about
traveling this summer, I can help them plan the
vacation of a life time."


Come empty handed to your referral meeting.


Use examples and visual aids to help people remember
your message. For instance, if you sell copiers, bring
some copy paper and show people how many more copies
you machine will produce versus the competition for the
same amount of money.


Say the same thing over and over to your group members.


Break down your business into the types of problems
that your product or service solves and in each
meeting, focus on how you can solve one specific

You'll find that you'll double the amount of referrals
you get from fellow networking group members by simply
educating them about the specifics of your business and
what a great referral for you would look like.


Using "Referral Education Cards" to Train Your Network

A simple method for training your referral sources is
to use "Referral Education Cards."

A Referral Education Card is a greeting card that helps
people understand how to spot a good referral prospect
for your busines.

It starts out by saying, "A good referral for me is
someone who..."

Here's a great example of an ultra-effective Referral
Education Card for a local banker.

(copy and paste the link into your browser)

You'll notice in this card that it specifically states
the attributes of someone who would be a great prospect
for a banker.

This card actually educates the banker's referral
sources on specifically what to look for in a person
who they can refer to the banker.

The message on the inside of this card could say
something like...

"Hi Mark,

I was just thinking the other day that I'm
not totally clear on what a good referral
would look like for you.

If you have a moment, please shoot me an email
with a couple of bullet points explaining what
type of person I should be looking for so I
might be able to recognize a good potential
referral for you.

My email address is

I look forward to talking to you soon.

All the best,

David Frey

Notice that this message is focused on your referral
sources instead of you. The card does all the talking
for you so that you don't have to!

I hope you get the idea.

Educating your referral sources is one of the most
beneficial things you can do to generate more

So the next time you attend a networking meeting,
remember that you're there to train your sales force!

All the best.


P.S. I created this card using a function called
"Picture Plus" in If
you'd like to see a demo of how it works, just visit

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Build the foundation before you worry about the wallpaper...

by Tammy de Leeuw
Financial Advisor Netzone

Hey..very long time no blog..

That's because my life is exploding with possibilities and all of them are screaming for a chance to manifest once.

As you know, I have been enjoying the heck out of helping the Mavericks (and some of you) grow your social medial presence.

I am Twittering like a bluejay who ate a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans (yum!) and I am Facebooking until my wrists and fingers are sore.

Not to mention, blogging, producing webinars, writing emails and..

Is it worth it?

Am I starting to see the light of day in my own business as I help you grow YOURS?

The answer is...

A little.

You see, I believe in having good solid foundations.. and you should too.

We all have done the "catch up game" before. Procrastinate our brains out and then push ourselves to the brink playing "catch up."

It doesn't work very well and it is EXHAUSTING.. Better to go more slowly and do it right so we don't have to re-do things later... measure twice or even three times and CUT ONCE.

An old school marketer told me a long time ago,

"It may take a while for the money to come your way, Tammy. But when it does, if you have done everything right, it will come fast and furious."

This is the law of reciprocity at work. Cash flow can be a crunch at times, but in order to have reciprocity in your life, you must be 100% committed to creating a solid foundation for your business.

This means...

Investing in every tool, educational product, system that you feel will actually HELP you create solid, multiple streams of income.. finding all the good FREE INFORMATION...

And (here is the hard part): getting out of the Lazy Boy and actually USING those tools...

Looking for new and better ways to leverage your time and marketing budget.. hiring an assistant or virtual assistant when you need one...

Educating yourself NOW so you won't be scrambling to catch up to your competition. You want to be positioned to be the DRIVER of the bandwagon..

And not one of those guys or gals running around in a panic trying to jump on...

I know I throw a lot of stuff at you and point you in many directions... but only you know the FLAVOR of your business...what you WILL DO.. what you will NEVER DO, and your own strengths and weaknesses...

But doing NOTHING in these crazy days is certainly not an option.


April 7th: Don't miss a special Mavericks Event: Webinar: What's Working for Mavericks Now?
featuring Seminar Direct's own DOUG DIXON (who is an expert in direct mail, seminars, and search engine optimization) and our friends the Insurance Mavericks.
Register at:

Also: be sure to check out the Mavericks new blog: