It’s a fact; before someone becomes a client or customer of your business, they need to trust you. One of the fastest ways to create an image for your business, which people in the marketplace will trust (and desire), is to make “the power of association” a part of your marketing mix!
Marketing and short cuts
People are programmed to look for short cuts when it comes to making decisions! This is why the recommendation of a friend is so powerful. If there are 10 equally good print companies in your area and you need to pick one, the one that has been highly recommended to you by half a dozen of your friends will win your business every time!
The recommendation of your friends quickly and powerfully reduces the level of risk you feel about using the recommended company.
In marketing, you can ‘leverage‘ the power of association to create a similar decision making short cut in the mind of all your prospective clients!
The marketing power of association
If your prospective clients associate you or your business with a highly respected person or organisation, they mentally link you and them together. This instantly elevates your reputation in the marketplace!
For example, an unknown designer can make a fortune, simply by having Brad Pitt say he loves wearing their clothes! Yesterday, he or she was an unknown designer – today they are a super-cool designer to the stars! Their designs are no better or worse than they always were, but their new association with Brad Pitt means there will now be massive demand for their work.
Brad Pitt’s praise created a short cut, by showing people these designs were ‘cool.’ His comments would also generate a stack of invaluable free publicity. That’s the power of association!
How the power of association helps me
If, for example, someone has never heard of me, they might be cautious about using my free marketing advice. However, when they learn that I have contributed to The BBC or CBS or their favourite newspaper – they instantly see me in a different light. My work takes on a totally different perspective, because of my associates.
How the power of association can help YOU!
More importantly, the power of association can be used to massively improve YOUR results! If you want to benefit from the power of association, you need to do two things.
- Firstly, you must be extremely selective about who and what you associate yourself and your business with. You need to deliberately target people and organisations that will increase your reputation in your marketplace.
For example, phone your local radio station and ask if they need a newspaper reviewer for their early show. (That’s how I got my first coverage on The BBC!)Think of the people and organisations that are most respected in your profession and form associations with them.
- Secondly, you must make sure that everyone knows about your high calibre associations! It’s not enough to be linked to some great people and organisations; you need to make sure the marketplace knows.
The power of association can also work AGAINST you!
I spoke with an accountant recently, who told me he had wasted over £1,000 sponsoring a business event. The event was a free-to-attend lunch and seminar; hosted by a well-known UK business development organisation.
Although he got a handful of leads from the event, they were a total waste of time. He explained; “they just picked my brain for free accountancy advice!”
The reason his sponsorship could never have worked is simple. He had just associated his accountancy practice with an organisation well-known across the UK for providing free, low quality business advice! Also, the people attending the event were those who are looking for FREE, generic advice. These are the very worst people to market his premium accountancy service to, because advice from a qualified accountant is neither free nor low quality!
So, it’s extremely important to be selective, regarding who you associate your business with. The right associations will attract business and the wrong associations will lose you business even faster!
Avoid this common problem
As I mentioned earlier, a personal or professional recommendation CAN be a wonderful source of new business. The problem here, is that very little is ever said about the DAMAGE that can result from having your business recommended by people who lack credibility or are unprofessional!
For example, I was emailed by one of my newsletter subscribers, who runs a small law firm. He had been a member of one of those networking groups; which meet for breakfast once a week to swap referrals. To remain a member of this network, you have to provide leads every week.
He found that a few of his fellow networking associates were using the same ‘high-pressure techniques’ to generate leads for him; as they were using to generate leads for their own direct sales businesses.
Two years later, his law firm’s professional reputation is still tarnished; because of the hard sell approach used by his former networking associates!
Every association you have is either helping you gain credibility and trust within the marketplace or it’s bringing your reputation down! Take time to list and then evaluate the credentials of everyone whose name or logo you use in your marketing.
Next, decide which side of the scales they are on! Are they helping you or hurting you?
If they are not improving how the marketplace views your business, you should seriously consider disassociating from them immediately.