In the days of the old West the call to "circle the wagons" was meant to protect those on the wagon train. In today's marketing environment circle the wagons has taken on a new concept in bringing your circle of influence or wagon train to your aid in promoting and marketing your business. Each of us has a circle of wagons that we can call on through friends and families and if used properly can create a viral marketing that is inexpensive and easy to start.
Each one of us has a unique circle of influence and this circle is comprised of people that we know and typically have an interaction with on a regular basis. The term regular basis could be considered anywhere from daily to two or three times a year. The point here is that people within our circle of influence will recognize us and should be able to to remember our name. Most businesses never think to sit down and create a master list of those that are involved in the business and each one's own circle of influence. A husband and wife in a small business together may have an overlapping circle of influence but usualy each one has independent parties that are not in the husband-wife combined circle of influence. To illustrate this the husband and wife together may know a hundred people that know them as a husband and wife, yet the wife may go to an exercise class and knows a circle of people in this class that do not know her husband. The same holds true for the husband who may have a circle of influence in another area. Combined all these perspectives marketing contacts can be enormous and are a valuable source of lead generation.
To make the concept of circling the wagons or marketing contacts work we simply take a sheet of paper and write down the name of every single person that would fall within the group we call a circle of influence. Each major business partner or major contributor to the business should create his or her own circle of influence list. If you are a small home-based business do not forget to include your children's circle of influence as they also have parents that may need your goods or services.
Once everyone has composed their circle of influence list we need to combine this into one master list preferably with a method of contact such as phone number, address, or e-mail. From this point we have to formulate a plan to make each person in this circle of influence excited to tell their circle of influence about our products or services. One way to approach this is consider a contest to see what person in your circle of influence can contribute the most leads in a given time and then reward that person with a nice prize. Remember at the conclusion of the referral contest to distribute a list of all the people that contributed leads and a quantity that they provided. Another way to use the circle of influence is to simply have each person refer to you only one additional person that is not in the current circle of influence and reward the refering person with again another prize this time of course considerably smaller. Be prepared before you ask for referrals to provide your circle of influence some type of marketing material even as simple as a business card or a premade flyer offering perhaps a discount on your goods and services for a first time user. Word-of-mouth is a very positive and influential form of advertising by people soon forget what they do not see. Try to keep your name in front of people by reminding your circle of influence that you are still in business and still need their help.
A lot of questions come up about what should I give for referrals and it really is based on the sale amount of the goods or services you provide. Obviously if you provide a series of goods or services that would result in his sale of thousands of dollars that it would not be appropriate to send someone five dollars as a gift for referral take your cost of gifts that you will give for referral and place them write in your job as a cost of doing business so that you can recoup them when you sell your goods or services. One item that makes an outstanding gift because it's universal appeal is an American express gift card. These can be bought in varying amounts through American express, and if you use these you will find that you are not providing gifts for referrals that are unappreciated or will never be used.
So get to work! Start writing your list of those that you consider in your circle of influence and then provide them with the tools to refer business back to you and reward them for doing so. If you implement this extremely inexpensive form of marketing you will find the ability to tap market areas you never before reached.