The architect found a quiet park on the outskirts of the Artist Quarter of Archville.
The nervous young man sat down, took a few deep breaths and opened the well-worn black book the mayor had just given him.
The architect started at ‘Chapter 1 Instructions’ because that is a very good place to start.
There was no one around so the architect read the following passage out loud.
The Super 6 Instructions
If I were marketing for my life and only allowed ONE marketing weapon, I would reach for the SUPER 6 strategy.
The SUPER 6 is simple, cheap to run, makes immediate sense when explained – and works like magic for architects.
Let me explain.
Imagine there are six people in the world that could make you rich in business. Your job is to identify these six and build a relationship with them.
Where do we find our six?
Marketing can be tough when you do not know WHERE to find your prospects or if reaching them is incredibly expensive.
Fear not. Life becomes a lot easier when you remember that there are many people out there who are already talking, selling and consulting (everyday) with the exact people you are seeking and would be happy to set you up with these people.
These influencers we call our SUPER 6.
You don’t need to find a way to market to your end client when you can market to their influencers. Your SUPER 6 are in a position to effortlessly send you highly qualified referrals if they want to.
Rod Drury sold Xero accounting software direct to business owners but that was a tough approach. Then he realized that all he needed to do was get the influencers of business owners, their accountants to act as his sales force.
Microsoft sells their software on the back of someone else’s platform, originally IBM computers. Coke sells through retailers like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and supermarkets. They don’t sell direct.
You need to ‘sell direct' of course, but you should also be ‘selling' through a third party.
Who are your Super 6?
That’s a good question. You may already know some, others you will need to get to know. You may need six months to identify them all.
The SUPER 6 are your POWER REFERRERS.
For architects, referrals are the strongest and best quality lead source. Referred clients usually close faster, do not haggle on price and refer again and again.
Ironically if I were to ask an architect what they are doing to nurture, expand and grow their referrals (in a systematic way) we find out that most are doing next to nothing.
Think about it. The #1 lead source gets no water, no sunshine and lives in a cold room in bad light. If you like the Old Quarter of Archville then I guess this approach is perfect.
If architects become master gardeners of their SUPER 6 they will easily double, triple or quadruple leads from this untapped goldmine.
Here is the ‘traditional’ referral problem
Most of our new clients come from word of mouth or referrals already. But I would bet that for every referral you or I do get there are nine people who could have been referred to you but were not.
Three things have to happen for a referral to occur.
- Your referrer has to notice they are in a conversation about building and design.
- Your referrer has to want to bring your name into the discussion in a favorable way.
- A connection has to be made by the referrer in such a way that you end up talking with the prospect.
There is a lot that could go wrong!
So if my life were on the line here’s what I’d do.
The 80-20 Principle tells that to find the Super 6 you need to find a ‘Dirty 30.’
The 80-20 principle will apply. So it will take 30 potential referrers to find the SUPER 6.
Start by asking yourself who are 30 people who COULD or SHOULD be referring clients to me. Let’s call these the ‘DIRTY 30’. (By all means come up with a better rhyme for this lot – until you do then ‘dirty 30’ it is.)
Thirty people who are ALREADY talking or influencing the type of clients you want to reach. They could be past clients, town planners, builders or other architects with an overflow.
If you communicate consistently to 30 potential Power Referrers then we can expect that only 20% will bear serious fruit. We need to wash this list of thirty down to find our SUPER SIX.
Twenty percent is SIX, and SIX is good. Very good.
So I would start a communication plan to these 30 people not just once but for the next 12 months and possibly for the rest of my career. I would cut people from the 30 who were not performing and I would introduce new people with potential.
But I would limit my list to only 30. That way, I am never overwhelmed and communication is always cheap and easy.
I would use two approaches.
- Personal contact
- Leveraged communication
Here is the hierarchy of power in communication:
- Face-to-face meeting
- Phone conversation
- Email or letter
Face-to-face contact engages more of the senses, is more personal because it is more emotional. People feel more obliged to help when you meet face to face. Meet for coffee, lunch or a business meeting. It is not leveraged (you can only do so many of these meetings) but it is the most powerful tactic to build a relationship.
Unfortunately, 30 is too many to meet up with every month (perhaps aim for two to four each month), so we need a mass communication tool as well.
Return of the King (Leveraged Communication)
Done well, the leverage of the old-fashioned newsletter can win the hearts and minds of the Super 6.
- No one does ‘em anymore because they are too lazy. GREAT
- The stories in your newsletter are a way to build relationships and let the ‘Dirty 30’ know more about you and what you are doing
- Leverage: Keeps you front-of-mind without having to meet every week
- Keeps you connected in a non-salesy way
- Builds your brand and trust
- Informs about new services or tricks you have learned
- Allows you to educate and non-directly reveal how good you are
- Allows you to provide ideas that they will want to show others
- Set the buying criteria by educating people
- Gives people something to talk about when you do connect directly – especially when you include personal stories (which you must)
- Make them look forward to the next month’s stories
- Makes them feel smart because they know more
- Makes them feel connected to you
- Builds your ‘personality’
- Chance to make offers and generate leads without being ‘salesy’
- Get referrals
A newsletter on its own won’t necessarily make you a millionaire but it is the backbone of your communication strategy with the SUPER 6 and Dirty 30.
If these people are truly POWER referrers then combine a newsletter with a little extra ‘love’ (occasional calls and meeting or social events) and you are in business.
What about email newsletters?
Now I know what you are thinking. Email newsletter. STOP!
Hard copy newsletters were king, then came email and the ‘efficiency’ excited architects and other business people. We all got cheap and lazy.
But there is a difference between ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectiveness.’ Just because something is easier and cheaper does not mean it works better.
Q: What happens when ‘non-critical’ email #45 for the day arrives at 10 a.m.?
A: You ‘DELETE’ and churn through the rest as fast as possible.
Q: What happens when personal mail arrives?
A: You open, you skim and maybe the hardcopy newsletter sits on a table for a month before you and three other people have read it.
Let me summarize.
If you want to leave the Old Quarter, the Artist Quarter and even the New Quarter, then you need more clients than you can handle. Therefore, you will need more leads.
If I could promise you three to four times the referrals you received last year, then what would this do for your life?
A lot, right!
Here is what you need to do:
- Form a Dirty 30 list of influencers of people who could or should be referring great clients to you, if they wanted to.
- Start a 12-month systematic communication plan to these potential referrers. You are now marketing to these people and want to become TOP-OF-MIND when they think of an architect. I would do at least a monthly newsletter and meet them at least twice a year. I might even send each of them a cake once a year. I will proactively look to help them and add value to them throughout the year so they want to reciprocate to me. The relationship needs to be win/win.
- Read these instructions again and take action TODAY.
What does money like?
Money likes speed.
That’s the secret few people know about money.
Money comes to those who act fast.
If you think, wonder, question, doubt,
money goes to the next person in the line.
The architect stopped, paused, smiled and thought that somewhere he had heard that final poem somewhere before.
Then he started to read the chapter again. And when he finished, he went back to the start and started reading it again. He did this 10 times.
The architect ran back to his house in the Old Quarter, excited, inspired and ready for action.
‘Tomorrow everything changes,' he said to himself with a big smile on his face.
P.S. This Super 6 strategy and building a stronger referral network is something that we will go into deeper at the upcoming Architect Business Development Summit.