An Endless Stream of Referrals

Photo by  Bryan Goff  on  Unsplash

Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

It’s Not About You - Give

How do I say this gently? Okay, I won’t bother being gentle. I’ll just shout it out: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. If you want referrals, you can’t talk about how great you or your company are. You can’t talk about how great your clients are.

You have to give. To get a referral you have to give something of value.

What you give and what is of value depends on what your referral sources want. People are people. Most people want something. You just need to figure out what they want.

Some want a referral from you - easy to do. Some want a coffee - also easy. Some want to be treated to lunch - I do this all the time. Some want a shout-out on social media - again easy to do. Some just want to be acknowledged for who they are - simple. Some want cash - which we do sometimes. Some want a Ferrari - this is not going to happen, unless I win the lottery.

Be Different - Be Unique

This is obvious but I’ll mention it anyway. If you don’t stand out from the crowd no one will notice you. I know a guy who wears an orange shirt - all the time. I bet you know who he is. If you guessed Craig Elias then you are right. I dare you to click on the link but be sure to wear sunglasses first. This is my favorite picture of Craig - he’s wearing a purple shirt but the background is orange.

Speaking of purple, have you read, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin? Me neither but I’m going to - soon - I promise. In fact, I’m thinking of starting a group that meets in the evening, near Longview, AB, and we read the book and we talk about the book and we apply the concepts. Are you with me? Let me know if you are interested. Email me: Or call me: 403-703-2247.

Remind People - Ask

Sadly, not everything is about giving. You can give and give but if you never ask you won’t get anything. Some people are just takers. These wallowing worms wiggle around waiting for wayfarers like me to wrestle with and waste my time. Ignore them.

On the other hand, everyone I know is busy. Even people, like my Dad, who are retired are busy. I know some people who have made a lot of money - guess what - they’re busy. The only people I know who aren’t busy are people with no money and, interestingly, they often don’t have anything to give either.

As a result, in order to get a referral you are going to need to remind people and ask. How you ask can vary. It could be over coffee or during a phone call. It could be on your website, although that is often overused. It could be at an event that you are hosting - this makes a ton of sense.

To get an endless stream of referrals you are going to have to keep in touch. Here are some of the things that I do:

  • Interact with people on social media. For me this is mostly on LinkedIn. You need to find the platform that works for you

  • Write a blog post at least once every 2 weeks

  • Send out a newsletter a couple times a month

  • Call or email people who have referred companies to us

  • Attend networking functions

My Offer to You

Here’s the deal - If you complete the referral form below AND you come to Longview, I’ll treat you to lunch at Little New York Bistro. I’m specifically looking for referrals for our Revenue Catalyst program.

I’d love to hear from you.

Jeff Nelson



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Creating a Landing Page Using MailChimp

Getting Started

Various versions of Landing Pages have been around for a long time. I remember looking at some in the early 2000’s and they were long, full of text, bolding, highlighting and basically annoying. I suppose that some people subscribed but I sure wasn’t me.

Landing pages have gotten much more sophisticated since then, and cheaper. In this article, we are going to look at how to build a landing page using MailChimp. I really like MailChimp as a platform for learning. The technology and things that can be done using MailChimp are quite incredible. AND FOR FREE, well at least it is free if you have less than 2,000 contacts.

Here is what you need before you get started:

  1. An account on MailChimp - easy, just sign up at

  2. An email address that you can use for testing - easy, just use Gmail,

  3. A PDF ebook that you can offer as a giveaway - easier said than done and a great idea for a future blog post

  4. A web page where the ebook resides. This can be a bit tricky because it depends on what platform you are using for your website and how well you know the platform to add a page and a link to the PDF. Here is a link to an example from a campaign that we set up:

  5. A logo or an image for the landing page - not critical but a good idea

  6. An idea of why you are doing this and what you want your audience to do after they download the ebook

1. Create an Audience

You need to have a place that stores a list of contacts. In MailChimp, this is called an Audience but creating the audience (or List is a little tricky). The simplest ways to log in and go to

Alternatively, you can click on Audiences, then under Current Audience click View Audiences, and finally click on on the grey Create Audience button on the right.

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Skip Tags, you can learn about that another time.

Click Create Audience.

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Fill out the Audience details.

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Skip Form Settings.

Select the Notifications that you want.


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2. Create a Landing Page

Next, click the green Create button at the top right of the page.

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Select Landing Page.

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Give it a name.

Select the Audience.


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Select a Template - e.g. Grow Your List

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Add a Logo or an Image.

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Add a heading.

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Add some details and information.

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Complete “A few more things to do.”

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And publish

Done! Have a look:


There are other ways to do landing pages but this is a start - at least for learning. You may want to try creating the page on your website and adding a form from MailChimp to the page. That is a little more professional because the URL of the landing page is actually hosted on your hosting server.

Let me know what you think.

Jeff Nelson

Find Your Social Selling Score on LinkedIn

Every once in a while there is something on the Internet that is actually interesting. This doesn’t happen every day, just once in a while.

Recently, I got an mail or read an article or got a notification about LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI). To see your score you will need an active profile on LinkedIn, obviously. Next go to:

Click on “Get your score free”.

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Once you log in you should see a page that looks similar to this:

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This is the Social Selling Dashboard. At the top, you will see your Industry and Network Ranks.

Then you will see your SSI as of today. This is broken into 4 categories:

  • Establish your professional brand

  • Find the right people

  • Engage with insights

  • Build relationships

As you can see I need to work on the middle 2 sections. If you click on the headings which are links, a popup will appear with a slide presentation on how to improve.

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The information isn’t all that helpful and of course, there is the obligatory sales pitch at the end for Sales Navigator.

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At the bottom of the page, there are comparisons to People in your Industry and People in your Network. If your score is lower than in your industry or your network, then you have lots of work to do.

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If you want suggestions on using LinkedIn better you may want to look at a blog post that I wrote a while back, Tips and Tricks Using LinkedIn.

Alternatively, you can view this presentation called Outstanding Use of LinkedIn on SlideShare to how I manage my profile. The section of the presentation include:

  • Navigating

  • Setup

  • Connecting with people

  • Posting

  • Engaging

Send me a message on LinkedIn and let me know what your score is. I’ll give you some suggestions.

Jeff Nelson

Establishing Expectations

I have been reading. And learning. One of the topics that keeps raised its head is Expectations.

The topic and focus on Expectations started when a friend of mine, David Cooper, suggested that I read, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. I mentioned this before in the blog post last week: Marketing Must Establish a Beachhead. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post, I would suggest that you have a quick peak.

Crossing the Chasm

In his book, Moore talks about the various stages that companies go through (see image below), the different types of customers at each stage, and how companies need to change, especially when they are ready to leap across the chasm between Early Adopters and Early Majority.

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Here is a quote related to Expectations from Moore’s book, p.27 (underlining is mine):

Getting closure with visionaries is next to impossible. Expectations derived from dreams simply cannot be met. This is not to devalue the dream, for without it there would be no directing force to drive progress of any sort. What is important is to celebrate continually the tangible and partial as both useful things in their own right and as heralds of the new order to come.

The most important principle stemming from all this is the emphasis on management of expectations. Because controlling expectations is so crucial, the only practical way to do business with visionaries is through a small, top-level direct sales force.

This is Brilliant. Moore captures the essence of establishing and adjusting Expectations with a visionary client. Lots for me to learn.

The Alpha Strategies

Then another friend, Joanne O’Connell, sent me a copy of The Alpha Strategies by Alan Kennedy. Again one of the topics that arises is Expectations.

Kennedy’s framework is all about business strategy and choosing the right strategy as your lead strategy. Here is a list of the eight primary strategies:

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All eight strategies are critical for a business but only one strategy can be the Alpha strategy. The rest are Influencers (only 2-3) and finally, Enablers (the left overs).

Here is how this works for Ford. The Alpha strategy is Manufacturing. The Influencer strategies are Financial Management, Marketing, and R&D Technology. The Enabler strategies are Growth, Organization Management, Risk, and Business Definition.

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Here is a quote about Expectations from Kennedy’s book, p.71 (underlining is mine):

All strategy implementation is driven by expectations created and imposed by the strategic plan on all subsequent strategy development. If those imposed expectations are clearly articulated, then strategy implementation can take its direction from those expectations and stays aligned with the intent of the strategic plan.

Therefore, we think business plan strategy development is founded on identification and prioritization of expectations imposed on the business planner.

Once the expectations have been identified and prioritized, then the business planner can test the most important expectations (imposed priorities) against the business planner’s external reality. In this way, the imposed expectations inform the business planner on what the priorities are to be and the external reality check allows development of strategy consistent with and  tailored to that reality.”

Draft of Expectations

My conclusion with all this reading (and learning) is that I need to bring up the topic of Expectations with our clients on a regular basis.

Here’s my first draft for discussion. What do you think?

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Marketing Must Establish a Beachhead

I’m sure you have read similar articles but before you rush away - Don’t. Hang around because I have 2 suggestions that you may not have read or heard about. Of course, these tips are at the end of the article, so you have to read all the way through - don’t skip to the end.

With each client that I work with, I ask a bunch of questions. Who are they? What do they do? How long have they been in business? What is their background? What is their vision? Etcetera. Eventually, I get around to the question of what is your target market? In 9 out of 10 cases, I get the same broad answer, something like: “Women, ages of 35 to 60” or some variation of that. As you can see with this answer, the target market is very broad and includes just about everyone (or at least half of the population). Sometimes I ask additional probing questions such as, “What about the geographical area?” but I already know they aren’t focused. Usually, I'll get a little bit more definition but often the answer is still very broad.

“Married women with children, ages 35 to 60, and living in Canada” is not a target market. That is a very large group of people. Sure, a very large company like Proctor and Gamble can select a broad target market like this but they are selling products to a market that is $1 billion in revenues per year - huge. Most companies cannot market to a market that is that large.

In this article, I want to talk about 4 characteristics for selecting a target market. These are:

  1. A group of actual or potential customers (a buyer)

  2. Have a common need or want (a problem)

  3. That your product or service can satisfy (a solution)

  4. Have a way of communicating with each other (a network)

  5. A secure place to start (a beachhead)

A Buyer

This is obvious - you need a buyer. These are people who are buying or could potentially buy your product or service. The obvious assumption is that they have money. This is an easy assumption to make. Everyone has money. Every company has money. Money isn’t the issue. The issue is the level of priority. People and companies will spend money if they perceive that they have a problem and determine that your product or service can solve their problem. It’s almost that simple.

However, there’s a catch. If you have a small budget for marketing then you can’t afford to go after a large market, so you have to go small and by small, I mean very small. If you are running a business that targets other businesses (B2B) then the size of this market will be a hundred companies or less. You can expand to other target markets later but to being with, start small.

In his book, Crossing the Chasm”, Geoffrey Moore gives an excellent illustration:

Starting a fire is a problem that any Boy Scout or Girl Scout can solve. You lay down some bunched-up newspaper, put on some kindling and some logs, and then light the paper. Nothing could be easier. Trying to cross the chasm without taking a niche market approach is like trying to light a fire without kindling.

The bunched-up paper represents your promotional budget, and the log, a major market opportunity. No matter how much paper you put under that log, if you don’t have any target market segments to act as kindling, sooner or later, the paper will be all used up, and the log still won’t be burning.

This is such a good illustration - I love it. The lesson is that you can’t start a fire by holding a lit match to a log. You need to start with paper, which ignites the kindling, which heats up and lights smaller branches, and once this is nice and hot, you can add larger logs. But you can’t start with logs that are too big. Same goes for marketing. Start with a small market that is easily identifiable.

A Problem

Again, this concept is like a mantra, if the prospect doesn’t perceive that they have a problem, then they aren’t going to buy. Period.

Okay, occasionally we all make impulsive buys and realize later that we didn’t really need that copy of the National Inquirer as we were checking out at the grocery store. But at the time we had a need for information, specifically about a recent celebrity’s divorce. Once we got home, however, we realized that the headline is just a made up story by some writer who is anticipating a divorce because the married celebrities were at different parties on the same night. We had a problem, we did an impulse buy, and we still have a problem. “Well, that was a waste of $5.00.” But I digress.

As a rule: No Problem equals No Sale.

One of the main reasons for marketing is to find customers who have a specific problem and bring attention to your company and your products as a possible solution. Of course, there is more to it, but this is a good summary.

I like to illustrate this concept by describing a room full of kids who are sitting with nothing to do - bored. Some kids are on the floor, some are sitting at a table, and some are sitting on a couch. If one of the children spots a pillow holds it above their head, then most of the kids will pay attention and try to get the pillow. On its own, the pillow had no value but with a little bit of attention, all of a sudden, the pillow has value and the kids want it. The problem, in this case, is that the kids were bored, and the pillow added some much-needed entertainment. Adults may be a little more sophisticated, but they really aren’t much different.

A Solution

This is where marketing gets tricky. Of course, every problem is looking for a solution. But for any specific problem, there is often a multitude of solutions. For example, if a business that is struggling to generate revenue (a problem), any of the following could be “a solution”:

  • Re-brand

  • Update the website

  • Optimize the website (SEO)

  • Create a landing page and lead nurturing campaign

  • Fire up some ads on Google

  • Create a video

  • Hire a salesperson

  • Offer a discount

  • Start networking

  • Host an event

  • The list is almost endless

Because there are so many “solutions” and so many companies offering “solutions” your company has to stand out. It has to be distinctive - unique. If you are offering the same solution as your competitor, then to get the sale your only option is to reduce your price. Who wants to do that? Lots of companies discount in order to get a sale but they shouldn’t. What they should do is figure out how to provide a solution that is unique and better.

A Network (Tip #1)

Up to this point, I’m sure that everything I have written is common knowledge. Most of us - all of us - have heard all these points before. But there is one characteristic of a target market that most articles and books don’t point out and that is this: People in the target market need to be able to communicate with each other. They need to be a group, or members of an association or meet together. The target market needs to be a network.

“Why?” you ask. The answer is that it makes your job much, much easier. If one or two people in the network like what you do, then they will tell others. There are other advantages:

  • It’s easy to identify

  • It’s cheaper to reach this group

  • It’s quicker to establish your brand

  • It’s a better way to build credibility

  • It helps the marketer focus

Tip #1 - The target market has to be a network and able to communicate with each other.

A Beachhead (Tip #2)

If you want to get off on the right foot with your marketing efforts, then two things are critical. You must identify a target market niche that has a network (Tip #1) and you have to establish a beachhead (Tip #2). If you don’t, you are doomed.

Again, let’s hear what Geoffrey Moore uses as an illustration:

For guidance, we are going to look back to an event in the first half of this century, the Allied invasion of Normandy on D Day, June 6, 1944. To be sure, there are more current examples of military success, but this particular analogy relates to our specific concerns very well.

The comparison is straightforward enough. Our long-term goal is to enter and take control of a mainstream market (Eisenhower’s Europe) that is currently dominated by an entrenched competitor (the Axis). For our product to wrest the mainstream market from this competitor, we must assemble an invasion force comprising other products and companies (the Allies). By way of entry into this market, our immediate goal is to transition from an early market base (England) to a strategic target market segment in the mainstream (the beaches at Normandy). Separating us from our goal is the chasm (the English Channel). We are going to cross that chasm as fast as we can with an invasion force focused directly and exclusively on the point of attack (D Day). Once we force the competitor out of our targeted niche markets (secure the beachhead), then we will move out to take over additional market segments (districts of France) on the way toward overall market domination (the liberation of Europe).

That’s it. That’s the strategy. Replicate D Day, and win entry to the main- stream. Cross the chasm by targeting a very specific niche market where you can dominate from the outset, force your competitors out of that market niche, and then use it as a base for broader operations. Concentrate an overwhelmingly superior force on a highly focused target. It worked in 1944 for the Allies, and it has worked since for any number of high-tech companies.

Case Example

I have a client that is offering customized tours based on historical events in Europe related to WWI and WWII. Susan Raby-Dunne’s business is called Canadian War History Tours. The beachhead she is establishing is with surgeons in Canada who had a relative who fought in one of the world wars.

Let’s see if Susan’s approach fits our criteria:

A Buyer - Yes, many surgeons have relatives who fought in one of the World Wars and have money for travel

A Problem - This isn’t solid but it’s a good guess that at least 5-10% of the surgeons in Canada had a relative in one of the world wars and they would be interested in retracing their footsteps. More than 600,000 Canadians enlisted for WWI and more than 1 million Canadians fought in WWII.

A Solution - Yes, Susan has the solution. She will develop a customized tour for couples or small groups. See:

A Network - Yes, without a doubt, surgeons are a part of a network and they have numerous ways to communicate. All are part of the Canadian Medical Association.

A Beachhead - Yes, of the 10,224 surgeons in Canada, Susan has to start somewhere.

Surgical Specialists in Canada

The obvious beachhead is orthopedic surgeons. One of Susan’s specialties is John McCrae who wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields”. She has written a book called Bonfire - The Chestnut Gentleman that tells the story of how John McCrae wrote this famous poem. It is written from the perspective of John McCrae’s horse, Bonfire. It is a spectacular story that is well written. You can read more here: John McCrae was a medical doctor and a Lieutenant Colonel. It’s a pretty good guess that he did many surgeries related to orthopedics. As a result, this is a good starting point for Susan.


I suspect that most business owners are tired of marketers talking about “audiences”, “target markets”, and “niches”. It is my hope with this article adds a couple of characteristics that will make it easier to understand the importance of targeting a niche that has a network and establishing a beachhead.


Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing The Chasm, 1991,

Jennifer Yesbeck, The Importance of Targeting in Marketing (And How to Include It in Your Strategy), February 2018,

Kevin Namaky, 7 Characteristics to Define Your Marketing Target, February 2017,

Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid, 2003,