The power of ‘crowds’ has taken hold over recent years. Crowdfunding, crowd reviews, crowd sourcing – though we are seeing a little less crowd ‘surfing’ than we used to.
But rather than crowd – the real question is the power of many.
When I look at businesses that come into Shark Tank – or anybody that approaches me with a ‘great idea’ (and they look at me expectantly to determine if ‘I have the answer’ which I don’t) – the way I respond is: any business to me is about the power of customer to get customer.
That is – the power of harnessing ‘everyone’ in the particular market or those who have a need for the ‘solution’ that is being created.
The question I have is who is already talking to potential customers? This may or may not sound like an obvious question.
It can be a long hard road to build a business through ‘traditional’ media. It can also be a lot of ‘hit and miss’ spending precious dollars and time to not get any result at all.
I remember doing a postcard direct mail campaign back in 2005 to a million Australians at great expense (and time) to the business – and saw no increase in customers coming to the RedBalloon website.
My tactic after this epic fail was to find other people (businesses) already doing business with potential customers who maybe even had a brand reputation.
This is where the power of networks comes in.
It can be quite difficult to make a ‘cold’ approach to a big player asking to do a joint promotion. It’s so much easier if someone introduces you.
I have a belief that everyone is somehow connected to everyone else – however just looking on LinkedIn may not be the best way to find this out or build a trusting relationship.
So what I do is get out and about and meet like-minded people. I attend conferences and events. I go to seminars where like-minded people might be.
Early next year I am going to attend The Unstoppables Amazon event, which is kind of ironic that I am going to the jungle to meet people. I’m not exactly sure how it is going to work – but what I do know is other entrepreneurs and senior leaders will be there.
I will be busy listening to find out if anyone else is talking to the sorts of people that we are talking to at Redii.com or the types of corporate customers that love what RedBalloon does.
I don’t know what will happen – but what I do know is that if I stay at my desk I will never get to meet the people who might help me make the world just slightly better.
This column first appeared in Smart Company