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Is networking the number one marketing tool for sales delivery?

Is networking the number one marketing tool for sales delivery?

According to the old adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ The saying has been around since time immemorial. But judging by our recent study it seems that the truth of that proverb hasn’t diminished over time, as nearly a quarter of businesses attribute ‘networking’ as their number one driver of sales.

In the fast paced modern world of today with an ever-growing emphasis on digital communication, it’s quite refreshing to think that there’s still considerable reward to be had from developing and cultivating human relationships.

Networking has been a business staple since selling began. It’s probably been a part of the business world for longer than the aforementioned ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ saying.

Face to face meetings seem to have become less and less necessary with emails and other messaging services taking over, which, on the face of it, could make the results of our study quite surprising. However, as catalogue marketing specialists we certainly recognise the value of meeting face to face. There is no substitute to meeting somebody in the flesh if you want to form a bond and to understand what makes a certain person or business tick. Our catalogues aid and abet this process. By utilising a catalogue in a marketing strategy and combining it with networking, you’re able to provide something tangible for the customer to look at in a meeting but also to keep behind for further reference once you’ve left.

What was also interesting to note in our findings, was that despite being the number one driver of sales for many companies, only two fifths of businesses actually actively engage in networking. So whilst it’s refreshing that it still works, it’s a little disheartening to think that so many businesses out there neglect to do so.

Other elements thrown up by the results of our study reveal a mixed bag of marketing sales deliverers. Of the companies that participated, 24% considered networking to be key. This was followed by advertising (19%), using an e-commerce website (17%), having a field sales force (16%) and social media (14%). This variety reveals its own story.

The most beneficial marketing strategy for a business to undertake is to combine different forms that complement each other. For example you can take catalogues to networking events, but you can also use the catalogue to promote an e-commerce website, whilst social media can be used to highlight networking events, your catalogue and your website. Each marketing tool should be used as part of a wider plan. Applying an interactive marketing strategy provides a synchronised approach, which will improve results. But it’s also important to remember the human element. Networking is and hopefully always will be a fantastic way of developing relationships. Never forget that people buy from people!

Ian Simpson MD of Catalogues 4 Business & Digital 4 Business

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