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“Membership has its privileges.” “You want to go where everybody knows your name.” We could go on forever rattling off slogans that espouse the value of belonging. It’s one of the most fundamental of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

It’s also a crucial in channel marketing. It can be the blade with which you can cut through all the noise that is keeping you from the potential new customers that are waiting out there for you.

The hardest thing you do is probably creating new customers.  Finding them isn’t easy.  Getting their attention isn’t easy.  Connecting with them isn’t easy.  Persuading them to leave their current IT provider and use you is often difficult, though sometimes your competition does make it easier.

The nature of marketing has changed completely.  It’s no longer about “getting your message out there in front of as many eyeballs as you can.”  That’s become impossible because there’s so much noise out there—so many other emails, Websites, social media messages and more.  You can no longer rise above all that noise.

So cut through it.

Learn to leverage the people who already love you and appreciate the quality of your services. Get them to share your message with their many friends, customers, suppliers and other colleagues. Yes, we’re talking about good, old-fashioned referral marketing, but it’s more than that.  Develop a routinized, repeatable, automated approach to getting your word out through your contacts to their contacts faster and more consistently than ever before. 

It’s not just that nothing else works better. It’s really that nothing else really works at all anymore.

Channel Marketing Strategy: Enlist Your Recruiters

There are many, many ways in which you can leverage your existing messaging and marketing combined with the “Rolodex” of each and every person who likes and appreciates your company in order to expand your reach to new prospects, many new prospects at once, not just the laborious one-at-a-time prospects.

–When you craft your next invitation to a webinar or other event, add an extra special message to your “inner circle,” the valued customers and associates you appreciate the most, asking them to share your invitation with their most trusted colleagues.

–Many channel companies reserve in-person events, especially pricey steak-dinner-style events, for known and appreciated clients. Ask those clients to bring a guest they feel would benefit from your services. It is the unusual client who will bring someone unqualified.

–Whenever you feature a client in any of your case studies, customer success stories, press releases or other distributions, be sure to ask your client if there’s anyone they’d like you to email the story to.

–If you send a blog-bulletin or newsletter out regularly, always ask your clients if there’s anyone they’d like to add to the distribution list. Make this the last checkbox before “send” on your distribution checklist.

Belonging to a Community

Everyone likes to talk about “stickiness,” but let’s talk about belonging to a community. Everyone likes to belong. Hold special “members-only” events for your community. Get them talking to each other. As you share more insight with the group, and foster more valuable discussion, it’s not only you each client would have to leave, it’s each other.

In 1906, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto taught us that about 20 percent of our customers give us 80 percent of our business. There’s a good place to go in search of your community.

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.