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Creating a Strategic Word of Mouth Marketing Plan

As an experienced Networker and BNI Director I come across many people that I consider top notch networkers. I also take the time to meet with them and ask what has contributed to their success. Many times their answers are similar, some time what they tell me is blinding obvious yet no one does it, except them (which is why they are top notch). In this segment I am going to discuss “Creating a Word of Mouth Marketing Business Plan. In a futures issues I will cover implementing your plan, how to keep it on track and how to adjust it if its not working. Now let’s talk about what should be in your plan. Here are 6 items that I found were in all of the top notch players plans.

First, start with your Goals. If you look at any successful person, they all have written goal. These goals are smart goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and the top people create them and review daily. They assess their effectiveness every 4 months to see how they are doing. As a BNI Director I always emphasize goal setting in the early months of the years. There is a old saying that goes something like this, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you will never know how to get there”. In order to know if you are successful at any endeavor you have to create a measuring stick. Goals are that measuring stick. Make sure you’re goals are visible and with you at all times. A good idea is to make a dream book or goal board that stay in front of you most of the time. You must review your goals daily. If you don’t they are not active goals.

The second thing you need are strategic partners. The first question this should invoke is,” Who are your current referral and business partners”. As a BNI member and Director I have learned the value of contact spheres. These are other businesses that sell or service the same customers as you but do not compete directly with your business. Making these people you’re referral partners (i.e. earning their trust and building a mutually beneficial business relationship with them) is a powerful way to multiply your efforts with out multiplying you’re W2 numbers at the end of the year. If you in a BNI chapter make a list of who is in you’re contact sphere. Also make a list of all the categories that are missing from your networking chapter. (Hint if you are a BNI member your MSP work book has a list in it). Once you know who you have on your list, it’s time to start earning their trust so that referrals just happen. You need to start recruiting people to fill the gaps in the open categories that can help you. The minimal number of strategic partners is about 5 or 6. The ideal number is a dozen or more. If you have a dozen strategic referral partners you will be able to give lots of referral and get just as many in return. Get a dozen make earn a bundle.

Third you need Accountability. Get a Coach, or at least a buddy that is not afraid to tell you the truth and is not afraid of damaging you’re relationship with them. No matter what, you need to have someone hold your feet to the fire with regards to doing the specific behaviors needed and working towards achieving your goals. A long time ago I found out how lonely it can be at the top of your organization. It’s often hard to confide in your employees or other if you are the CEO of you’re company. Some aspect of your business can not be easily shared. This is why a 3rd party unbiased neutral professional is best way to go. Most small business feel that it’s either too expensive to hire a coach or that most coach’s really don’t do much for the money they charge. Well the reality is you have to shop for a good coach. And if they can show you a way to increase your business through their coaching, where it more than pays for their fees, do it. If you still thinks its too expensive then you need to look around to see what’s free. If you are a BNI member you’re blessed. BNI offer free and almost free training that is top notch. Also you have mentors, Ambassador and Director who coach member individually. BNI also offer a huge amount of education and support material for its members. Dr. Ivan Miser, the founder of BNI even offers a website and teleseminar that offers answers for your business networking questions, for free. Check out In my opinion free help is not as good as paying a profession coach or joining a peer group, but it’s a start and if your in BNI you have a leg up.

Forth, look at what resources you have available. What I mean by resources are educational materials like books tapes, CD’s MP3’s video, DVD’s etc that can help you stay on track. You can even find some of these items in the public library. If you want to be the best at any thing you must immerse yourself in that subject matter. The longer you stay immersed the more focused you become. The more focused you become, the more things “just seem to go your way”. It is important to note here that this immersion and focus must be positive in nature. If you are focused on negative thing those things are just as likely to happen. The TV, Radio, and regular new sources are normally a big source of negative distraction. Feed your fire with positive knowledge and maintain your focus by immersing your mind on what, when, where, how and why of your industry and you will achieve your goals. Often time the educational material you’re immersed in keeps you on track and after a while it becomes your normal way of life. Do it daily to fight of any negativity you may be in contact with.

Fifth, use you’re Calendar to lay out your plan. Take the time to break your calendar into what I call campaigns. What I mean here is that part of your goal has to have some specific focus. If you attend a weekly networking meeting, try to deliver a focused and consistent message for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. This focus need to be in alignment with your goals! Your focused campaigns can be based on holidays, annual events, political events, seasonal events, periodic events or even events dictated by your company or a combination of all of these. I own a health and wellness consulting business and often take advantage of thing like cancer awareness month, Heart disease month etc…during those months my focused message is how my products or service can help individuals with those issues. One last thing about your calendar;. Try and plan out your year in advance. This includes any events you have to attend including family events. Put down vacations, family outings, and regular logistical issue like taking the kids to schools, dentist, and doctor office. Also add annual events like luncheons, conventions, and holiday parties. Anything that you normal schedule put it on your calendar. If you are a BNI member you need to block out the time slot for your meetings and 1-2-1’ meeting (dance cards). Don’t forget to block out time for calling on customers (active marketing), doing management and or accounting tasks and other regular duties necessary for your business. Don’t forget to block out time for your self and your family and worship. Even with all this programmed in you should still have open space allowing enough flexibility to add and move thing when change arise. You’re plan does not have to be ridged. Create a priority scale like the Steven Covey teaches. If conflicts arise do the items with the highest priority.

Last and just as import as the first 5 are filling in the details and making it happen. Once you created your goals, chosen your specific direction and decide on the themes for each month (or period), you need to sit down and break each week into individual behaviors that you will be performing. You will need a focused sales manager minute, list of prospects, list of appointment etc... for each and every week. For me, this means what message am I delivering that week, what meetings am I attending and who do I plan on calling. As I stated earlier, my themes last 4 to 6 weeks so for that period of time I am focus on the same general subject. However, I usually change up my message just enough to keep my strategic referral partner interested and listing. The message I am deliver could be my sale manager minute, an elevator speech or a 10 minute presentation or a 45 minute webinar. What matters most is I stick to the theme, either way my message stays on the same subject with a different story every week. A few last very important, points. All that I have stated still requires that you earn a persons trust. That you take the time to build strong and giving relations with your strategic partners I heard Dr. Misner once say that Networking is like farming , you have to put in a lot of work up front to reap the rewards at harvest time.
These 6 items do not necessarily constitute “the be all to end all” of marketing plans However it’s a great start. And although it is not an exhaustive list, it does provide needed help, especially if you have decided to build you’re own strategic plan. It been my experience that is if you do the six action items listed above and hold yourself accountable, you will get more referral, make more money and you will grow your business.

If you have specific questions regarding this subject drop me a line at and I will write back an answer your question.
That’s my opinion, I want to hear yours.

Hector Cisneros is a writer, has been an entrepreneur for more than 30 years, is a veteran of BNI for 19 years and was a BNI director for over five years. He is still an active BNI member and follows the philosophy of Givers Gain. He is the owner of several businesses in Jacksonville, Florida. He actively coaches business owners in the fine art of Online advertising, Business Networking and Word of Mouth marketing. He is the president of Website Know How, Inc. a holding company for his business ventures that include online advertising, word of mouth marketing, real estate holdings, non-profit training/support, book publishing, health and wellness product sales and Adventure sports. Hector's new book 60 Seconds to success, teaches business owners how to get the most from word of mouth marketing by using great 60 second introductions. To learn more about Hector Cisneros, Social Media, Online Marketing or Word of Mouth Marketing visit the Networkers Apprentice workshop or my book website at

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The 10 most Common Mistakes made in a 60 second presentations

The 10 most Common Mistakes made in a 60 second presentations
In my daily travels as a BNI Director I am often asked to evaluate BNI members elevator speeches. You know their "Sales Manager Minutes". Over the years I have discovered over 2 dozen things that a person can do wrong when presenting their sales manager minutes.

In this segment I will discuss the 10 most common mistakes that I see and give you the cure for these all so common, elevator speech presentations.

Common Mistake #10. "No Hook". It is important that your last statement be a memorable one (hopefully a positive one too). People are more likely to remember the first thing and last thing you say and your hook can help "brand" you as the go to person for your particular product or service. Make your hook different, but easy to remember. Keep it simple. Using your companies’ slogan is ok. So is rhyming.

Common Mistake #9. "Selling to your audience",
(i.e. you BNI partners) in stead of through your audience, (i.e. referral partners). People join referral network to get referral not be sold to. Make sure you remove or change the words “you and yours” when ever possible to something else. Don't use phrases like "everyone in this room can use this"! Change the sentence from you need to buy this to; "so when you customers does xyz, tell them about me and my service/product". Sell to their customer not to them.

Common Mistake #8. "Not saying your Name".
It is important that you always say your name when presenting. I often hear members of various net working organization say things like, "You All know me" at the beginning of their sales manager minutes. Although this may be true, often times there are people in the room who don’t know you. These “visitors” to your net work meeting are clueless to who you are. They could very well need your product or service and with out your name in hand, they may have to leave with out being able to connect with you. Get use to saying your name every time you present and you will never miss an opportunity with a visitor.

Common Mistake #7. "Going to short!"
It is important that you use every second of your time when doing a 60 second presentation. You did pay for that time didn't you? Would you go to a radio station and pay for a 60 second commercial and be happy when you only get 30 second of air time? No way! Create 60 second presentation,(or what ever time frame you are given) . Use the whole amount of time allotted. So remember this. If you meet 50 times a year you only get 50 minutes a year for this type of advertising. If you’re in a BNI chapter don't waste these precious moments. If you’re in any other networking organization the same goes for you!

Common Mistake #6." Going too long!"
If your sales manager minute goes too long, you quickly start to lose credibility with your audience. Going to long is being disrespectful of the other members time. It also makes you look unprepared and unprofessional. Rehearse and time your 60 second presentations. Take advantage of the spot light your given.

Common Mistake #5. Trying to cram too much in!"
I often hear 60 second presentations that start off with a long lists of what I call the "I do's". Here the presenter is trying to squeeze every aspect of their business in to 60 second, (which is like try to put 10 lbs of sand in a 5 lb bag). This mistake is often made worse when the presenter uses the words "I specialize in" and then they rattle off their long list of "I' do's". The cure for this mistake is being focused and specific. Pick a single subject. Develop a story around that subject and pace yourself. You don’t' want to come across like your reading a disclaimer, instead make sure there is time for strategic silences and a smooth flow.

Common Mistake #4. "Not asking for a referral!"
I have seen many new BNI members stand and give a great description of what they do and what benefits they offer and how they are different from their competition and totally forget to ask for a referral. The best way to fix this is to begin with the end in mind. Start with the referral you want and build the 60 second presentation around it. See a previous article on "Simple ideas to get you started" at .

Common Mistake #3. "Not using stories."
It's important that your message connect with the audience at an emotional level. Many rookie BNI members and net workers will stand and spit out facts, figure and studies "showing that they are the best". But they receive few if any referral from these messages. There is a saying in sales that goes something like this; "Facts Tell and Stories sell". If you can wrap an emotionally charged story around your focused subject you are more likely to compel someone to action. Always mention the customer pain and make yourself the white night who rescues them.

Common Mistake #2. "Not saying what to do or say."
I have seen net workers stand up an present very moving sale manager minutes full of emotion and words that move you to action. However many time these other wise great 60 second presentations are render mediocre because they did not "tell you what to do or say", when you recognize their dream referral. They did not give you the piece of information that empowers them to act on your behalf. My 60 second presentations usually end with "give them my card and ask when I can call" or something like, "tell them about our free refrigerator, good thru the end of the month, or tell them to go to my website to see it there, or ask if they would like to meet." In many cases if you don't tell your partners what to do they will do nothing! Empower them, tell them what to say and do.

Common Mistake #1 Last but not least "Not being specific." This mistake is a relative of #4, not asking for a referral. Here the member ask for too broad of a referral. Not asking for a specific referral is like asking your referral partners to do a lot of work for you (work you should have already done for them). The rookie networker will say things like “so if you know somebody”, or they may say “anybody you know who”, try to get a hit. They are assuming that if you cast a wide net you will catch more fish. But the opposite is what really works best. Plus if you really think about it, there is no category in your brain called anybody or some body. No individuals are stored there. It doesn't compute. Giving your partner a specific company, the person name you’re looking to connect with and their position makes it much easier for anybody’s brain to come up with a match. If you can't say a specific name, create a 5 point profile describing the person that you’re looking for. The easier you make it for your partners, the greater the likely hood of receiving your requested referral (or at least something similar to it).

Of the top 10 mistake, removing #1 will produce the greatest return for your efforts. Don't get me wrong I want you to eliminate all 10 of these common mistakes. When you do, you will find that you have increased your credibility, are getting more and better quality referral and best of all you will really start to grow your business. Future segments will talk about another dozen plus mistakes you will want to eliminate. Until then, work on these and let me know how its helping you.

That's My Opinion, I welcome yours.

Hector Cisneros is an entrepreneur/businessman with over 25 years experience, is a 17-year veteran of BNI, and was BNI Director for 6 years. Currently he manages 3 businesses, writes and coach's business people in the art of Word of Mouth and internet marketing. He has several intl. published articles covering word of mouth marketing, social media marketing and how to improve your 60-second presentations. His new book "60 Seconds to Success" is aimed at helping business people make great first impressions and make more money through referral and word of mouth marketing. To learn more about Social Media, Internet Marketing d Word of Mouth Marketing visit the Networkers Apprentice workshop at To contact Hector write him at
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The road to great referrals is not built on good intentions, but on daily work!

As a 16 year veteran of BNI and a director for 5 years, it dawned on me that a lot of new BNI members worry more about things, (like what are they going to say this week for their sales manager minute) instead of doing something that will increase their credibility and help them get more referrals.

The most common question I hear from new members is "How do I create my sales manager minute"? "Where do I start"? "How do I know what to talk about"?

Well here is a simple idea you can use to get you started. "Begin with the end in mind"! This profound quote from Steven Covey is where you start.

Lets say you're an insurance agent and you want to have a boat or motor cycle owner as referrals, write down what they look like. Where do they live, eat and work? What kind of vehicles are they using? How much do the vehicles cost? Ask your self lots of questions about what the referral looks like.

Here is another way of understand who you want. Think of your last ten customers. What were they like? If you're new to the industry, what were your associates last 10 customers like?

Step two is also easy. Create a short story that describes how you can help this specific referral with your product or service. Your story should contain the customers pain, use emotional word that evoke action and it should show that you were the solution. It may be beneficial to show how you are different from your competition.

Finish out by telling your referral partner how to introduce you. An example would be "to ask your partners give a short testimonial about you, tell them to give the prospect your card and ask when it would be OK for you to call.

I have taught hundreds of BNI members how to create great sales managers minute. My advice to beginners is don't try for perfection, instead start by creating a finished product that has a good chance of producing results. You have to crawl before you walk so the sooner you start creating sales manager minutes the sooner your skill will improve.

As a new member in BNI, you have to build trust and credibility before your sales manager minutes really start to work. A Consistent, clear and specific message will help build that trust. So will educating your fellow member during your weekly 1-2-1 meetings. Make sure you tell them your sales manager minute again when you have their undivided attention!

Be patient and keep at it. Create a new 60 second presentation weekly (if not daily) for at least 3 or 4 months. These 60 presentation can be similar but need to be different enough to keep other interested. Test them on your partners during your 1-2-1 meeting and see which one strike a cord and produce results.

Before you know it your sales manager minutes will be producing light bulbs above members heads and bringing you the specific referrals you asked for.

If you have specific questions regarding your Sale Manager Minute write me at

Get your copy of 60 Seconds to Success

This book is not about a get rich quick scheme, its about how to be successful 60 seconds at a time.

You will learn how to use powerful words that compel and motivate people to action. You will learn my methodology on how to construct your messages so that your referral partners will be able to repeat and pass your message on for you.

You will also learn how to keep your message fresh so that your listeners will be compelled to hear your message, even after hearing it many times.

If this sounds interesting, read Dr. Ivan Misners testimonial. To check out the book, click on the link for the FREE pre-view copy.


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