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|Let Your Raving Fans Help!
By Victoria Munro
Your raving fans—those loyal customers you’ve enjoyed serving—have ideas and answers to grow your business. And, chances are they’d love to help you! So take advantage of this priceless resource by throwing a Raving Fans Party.
We have organized these events for several clients with very positive results. If the affair can’t be held at your place of business, decide on an appropriate location. Invite between 15 and 30 enthusiastic, loyal customers, giving several date and time options. Because of scheduling challenges, expect only 50 percent of those invited to attend. We’ve found that 90 minutes is enough time for an effective Raving Fans Party.
Make this a win for clients attending by providing a pleasant environment and serving yummy refreshments and beverages (appropriate to the time of day). Give guests the opportunity to network together and make new friends. Chat with them yourself and introduce those who haven’t met before. This should last approximately 30 minutes.
Call for quiet in the room, and start the formal part of the event by welcoming your guests. Thank them for taking time to attend and tell them how much you appreciate their business. Also express your sincere commitment to further improve the services and/or products you provide. Explain anything they should know about where your business is now and where you want to take it in the future. Keep your introduction to five minutes or less. Then, hand over the floor to your emcee, who will facilitate the remainder of the meeting and conduct a brainstorming session.
Your emcee should ideally be outgoing, upbeat and able to make your guests feel at ease. Don’t attempt to facilitate the event yourself. It’s awkward and inappropriate for you to ask clients what they love about doing business with you, etc. You’ll gain more if you keep quiet, resist the temptation to interrupt and just take notes. You can ask individuals for clarification later if necessary.
Your emcee will address the guests and explain that the purpose of the party is to thank them and ask for their help. He or she will use a flip chart to make note of guests’ ideas. You can also appoint a second person (who can write clearly and fast) to take notes on the flip chart during the brainstorming time.
The emcee will ask the following questions:
1. What do you enjoy and appreciate about our host
and his or her business?
2. Realizing that no one is perfect, how can our host further improve his or her services and products? What could this company do that would make doing business with them easier or more profitable for you? Are there other services or products that you would appreciate the company offering?
Questions should be tailored to fit your current need, industry or profession. While guests are answering, you may be tempted to interrupt or add an explanation. Don’t! Make careful notes of any useful ideas and who mentioned them, and follow up later.
3. Our host would like to grow this business, and wants to do so with the best clients. How can he or she find more wonderful clients like all of you? What suggestions do you have to help him or her market the business? Brainstorm marketing ideas. Make note of any referrals.
This part of the event should be kept moving fast, and last between 45 and 50 minutes. The emcee or host business owner should then conclude the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and giving their helpful input. Guests should be encouraged to enjoy the refreshments, network and feel free to leave if necessary. You might consider giving each participant a small gift as a token of your appreciation—perhaps a book or gift certificate.
Follow up with guests, thank them and explain how you plan to use their valuable suggestions.
About the Author: Victoria Munro is co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly, a company dedicated to creating success for small-business owners through creatively designed programs and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at: LLCwww.Make-it-Fly.com, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.
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