by Tony Vidler
When it comes to building an audience of influencers, advocates, raving fans and interested spectators, it all begins with the Tight 5.
Humour me for a moment, but on the eve of the Rugby World Cup, I just had to run with this analogy…forgive me!
In rugby, the team with the best “tight 5” tends to dominate the set piece and set up the platform for the rest of the team to perform. The Tight 5 are the gnarly strongmen who work as unit to win possession. If they don’t perform well as a unit and win their particular battle against the opposition Tight 5, then their team doesn’t get the ball and can’t score points. If you can’t do that, you are no show of winning the World Cup…
So it is with building an audience, and influence, with your target market. So it is with building your business.
Our Tight 5 as professionals are those who we have incredibly strong professional relationships, and usually very strong social relationships as well, where there is an incredibly high level of understanding and interest in each others success. Our Tight 5 are usually other professionals in complementary fields (but not directly competing), where they are looking to work with the same types of clients or businesses that we do. Our interests overlap. When they extend influence or get new clients there is an abundance of opportunity for us to collectively work with the clients in our respective areas of specialisation. When we get new clients, it is an opportunity for them as well, and so our interests are aligned and our skills are complementary.
The next level of relationship we need to build is the rest of the team: the First 15. These are sometimes Centre’s Of Influence (COI’s), and sometimes clients. The common point is that this is the group who advocate and recommend repeatedly, because they have the same values and beliefs. Essentially, just like the rugby team, they have the same objectives as us. This is not as intensely personal or as tight-knit as the relationship between the Tight 5, but it is a strong bond. They are our advocates.
Every good sports team has its raving fans too. Those who are guaranteed to buys season tickets, and all the supporters gear, and to cheer us on no matter how the game is playing out. These are our top clients; the ones who stick with us through thick and thin. They are united in loyalty to the same interests and issues.
When things are going well the rugby team can fill the stands with supporters. They have the same general interests, but their enthusiasm and participation can wax and wane somewhat. These are the clients who take a piece of advice here or there, or engage in a transaction as and when they think of it or we happen to be in their mind. They do repeat business, and tend to be relatively long term stayers, but they are just not always at the game, y’know?
Finally, there are the folks at home who will cheer loudly in the lounge room…basically they like what we do, but their comfort and convenience is paramount. In essence they are passive spectators who will engage when the crowd does – but our team does well from having them (to continue the sporting analogy) as they subscribe to pay TV, and buy a bit of supporters gear here or there, and we get a little bit of revenue from that.
For a professional practice to have an ongoing successful business, that consistently performs and delivers “wins” we need to build the same support base.
Our Tight 5 are the the people who are constantly in the battle, scrapping every minute of every game for a bit more yardage or to win the ball. These are our primary COI’s who drive ideal clients into our network – and we do for them. We want 5 of them.
The First 15 – being the rest of the playing squad – are the ones who will continue to drive quality business to us for a long period of time. Some of the business comes from them as clients, but they repeatedly refer and drive new opportunities to us. They won’t always be delivering ideal clients, but they will be referring us to potentially good clients. We want 15 like that.
We need 150 solid clients who will stick with us through thick and thin. When markets go up, and when markets go down. When prices go up, and when things fall down. They are loyal and will continue to work with us – and provide the occasional referral of decent quality. They are our raving fans, who are spreading the good word about their experience with us through their own networks.
Our business needs to cater to the supporters in the stands who turn up when things are going well. We need to build the infrastructure for them, and we need to market to them and tempt them to come to the game. We need them interested in us, talking about us, and constantly considering when they will use us next. In an ideal world we would have 1500 of them on our database that we are communicating with, and trying to tempt to come to the game.
Finally, we want to find ways to get the spectators to follow what we are doing and buy the occasional piece of merchandise from us. Delivering simple solutions online to them, or relatively small value guides, books and Do-It-Yourself tools still presents a significant opportunity for our practice to have an audience of low cost clients who present a decent amount of revenue. There’s money in pleasing the masses. Basically we want as many as we can handle, but the target is really about 3,000 at least.
There you have it! Just like a successful rugby team we need to think about different levels of participation for all the people involved in the game, and then build the relationships and infrastructure that will cater to the varying needs.
It all begins with getting the Tight 5 together and going after the same goal. That’s where world champion teams are built from.
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