I was speaking with a former teacher of mine who was now teaching Grade 3. She shared a story about a student running a lemonade stand in the gymnasium over lunch-hour to raise money charity.
He started marketing his lemonade stand to classmates within his grade and discussed his business in his first three class presentations, all in the hopes of selling more lemonade.
The only trouble was, very few children in Grade 3 bought his lemonade; some didn't like it, others didn't have money and a few just didn't care about supporting his cause. But the child entrepreneur wasn't about to give up. When he was advised to go classroom to classroom, and get to know the students in other grades, he decided instead to ask the principal to announce his lemonade stand over the PA system and tell the teachers to remind their class before the lunch hour.
Because of his ingenuity, he was able to surpass his fundraising goals in a mere two weeks.
What the 8-year-old entrepreneur did was quite brilliant. In fact, he did exactly what a number of marketers and business owners have yet to realize. He avoided the inefficiency of mass engagement to grow a business and used an approach called the host-beneficiary relationship.
In this particular arrangement, the smaller, newer organization can instantly reach a wider pool of qualified prospects with the implicit endorsement of the more established operation.
Too often, small business owners and marketers try to use social media as a means to grow their business. In a great deal of cases, social media is not the best tactic. In fact, it's quite inefficient and ineffective.
To grow a business, you can't just go online and post links to blogs, landing pages or other related content on your social channels. You have to engage your potential customers and spend a great deal of time building rapport in order to get to a point where asking for business is acceptable. This won't come overnight. It often takes a year or more of investment to get to a point where social media generates leads.
For businesses that have growth objectives they need to achieve, social media doesn't fit that bill.
However, if the host-beneficiary is your growth strategy of choice, you will go directly to someone who is influential or well-connected. In this scenario, you leverage the host's credibility and rapport, which it extends to you with an endorsement. In return, you would provide a percentage of the profits to the host.
Once you find the right 'host,' you will either ask them to introduce you to potential clients or work out a deal that will bring your product or service to their network. Any opportunities generated will benefit you as the beneficiary of this partnership.
The true power of the host-beneficiary relationship lies in the advantage you gain by being able to tap into the thousands or even millions of dollars of investment, existing goodwill and strong relationships that other companies have developed with their clients.
As demonstrated by the child with the lemonade stand, approaching someone with influence, power and connections provides the best opportunity for growth. Spending a significant amount of time engaging students in every grade throughout the school, on the other hand, does not.
As marketers and business owners, we should take a page from the student's book and build relationships with one person of influence who will give you access to a great number of potential buyers instead. This will free up a great deal of your time and unlock more opportunities for growth.
Ryan Caligiuri is the founder of Ryan Caligiuri International, a growth consultancy focused on developing programs that generate credibility, competitive advantages, leads/demand and new revenue streams for small- to medium-sized enterprises. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network a mentoring program that teaches entrepreneurs and marketers best practices, frameworks and strategies to become business growth generators.
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