One of Chicago’s Aldermen is a Savvy Marketer?

I was surprised and impressed to see an email today from Alderman Joe Moore, of Chicago’s 49th ward, promoting a marketing initiative he calls “Follow Me on Friday.”

His “Follow Me On Friday” initiative is a great example of a lead generation tactic called Affiliate Marketing.  This tactic is commonly used with great success in the online world, but not a lot of local businesses take advantage of it.

After I explain the alderman’s initiative, below, I give you some ideas about how you can implement Affiliate Marketing in your business.  Hopefully after seeing how easy it is to implement, you’ll give it a try for your business!

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Here’s how “Follow Me On Friday” works.

Alderman Moore identifies a pub, restaurant or business within his ward to host a gathering of local residents each Friday after work.  The establishment puts out a spread of their best wares – food & beverage, movie tickets, painting supplies – at a discounted price for the evening.

Here’s where it gets interesting:  you can only partake if you’re a Facebook fan of the Alderman. This, naturally, builds the Alderman’s Fan base.  (I’d imagine that he has an iPad handy at each gathering, so patrons can easily become fans of his on the spot.)

The establishment not only gets all the new visitors and exposure that night, but they also get added to the roster of “previous Follow Me On Friday locations,” that are listed on his email every week, as well as on the Alderman’s website for the Ward.

It’s a total win-win for both the business and the Alderman:

  • the business gets a ton of new visitors who might never have discovered them.  In fact, that’s how I found out about the “Follow Me On Friday” initiative in the first place – a friend of mine gets the Alderman’s weekly email and is interested in going to this week’s restaurant, so she forwarded the email to me.

  • the Alderman gets to “press the flesh” with his constituents every week, nurture community ties among residents and, of course, make the case to local business owners that he’s their guy.

How can you implement Affiliate Marketing in your business?

To utilize Affiliate Marketing in your business as a way to gain new clients, it just takes a little bit of planning.

1.  Assess what you have to offer.

When you reach out to a potential partner the first thing they’ll want to know is, “What’s in it for me?”  So the first step is to figure out an answer to that question. What do you offer that solves a problem, or addresses a need, for someone else?

In the case of “Follow Me On Friday” the Alderman is able to offer traffic and exposure, which every restaurant in his Ward wants. The restaurants, in turn, offer interesting new dining options for local residents who might be tired of going to their same-old places every week.

2.  Brainstorm potential partners.

Who would like access to what you offer?  Let’s say you’re a print shop that caters to local businesses.  You’ve worked hard to develop those relationships over time, and your customers look to you to recommend other business services.  There are probably lots of other businesses that would like to be on your list of recommended resources.  Make a list of all of the ones you can think of – with their contact info.

3.  Determine what you’d like to get from the relationship.

Now that you’ve figured out how you can be of service to your potential partners, it’s time to think about what you’d like in return.

… Maybe all you want is their business.  And in a highly competitive, highly commoditized market like printing services, your affiliate relationships are what you need to nudge them into choosing you instead of a competitor.

… Maybe you’ve just created a new offer aimed at consumers that’s converting really well, and so you’re eager to get as many new leads as possible.  In that case, what you might ask is for the business to drop your flyer into every customer bag at checkout.

… Maybe you’re not looking for sales, as much as exposure in your local area.  So what you really want is for just a couple of the larger businesses to add your logo to their blog or email newsletter.

There are dozens of ways you can structure the relationship so that it’s a win-win for both of you.

4.  Reach out.

Pick up the phone, write a letter – heck, you could even stop by!  The key is to figure out ahead of time what you’re going to say – remembering to lead off your conversation by explaining “what’s in it for them.”

And don’t forget to tell them what to do next – call you, return the enclosed form, etc.  This is critical for any good marketing, and these affiliate conversations are no different.

Of course the payoff is all here in Step 4 – and if it seems a little daunting to you, I’m here to help!  Strategizing marketing campaigns like that is what I do best.

Email my assistant to get a consulting application, and see if we’re a good fit to work together.

Affiliate marketing can be a powerful strategy for gaining new clients, no matter what type of business you’re in.  After you give it a go, be sure and tell me about your results in the comments!



What did you think?