When I was President of Rainmakers, I developed a habit of using stories to introduce a concept.  This is one of my favorites, because it is a great example of persistence and a successful launch through relationships.  It is the story of the scientists at the 3M Company who found a use for an adhesive which didn’t stick.

Despite discouraging feedback from the marketing department and his peers, Arthur Fry believed in the potential of this unique product.  So he bypassed traditional channels, made a batch of the pads using the adhesive and distributed them to the secretaries of all the executives at 3M.  He assumed they would use the product, become fans and share them with others.  In no time at all, the secretaries and their bosses, were using the handy notepads, and calling for more.

Initial launch plans in the late 1970’s built on the same strategy as pads were sent to secretaries of executives of all major Fortune 500 companies. And the rest is history!  Post-it® Notes were successful because they were a great product, put into the hands of people who would use it, and more importantly, share it.

postitDo you have a secretary?

I don’t mean someone who will type and file for you, ( though that as a small business owner is definitely worthwhile).  Do you have someone who, like the secretaries at 3M, understand your product and will share information with others? If not, you need to start looking for them.  Begin with your most loyal customers, asking them for testimonials and referrals.

Don’t stop there.  The next time you go to a networking event, shift your focus; instead of trying to find your next customer, look for people who call on your customers.  These contacts have the potential to become your best secretaries over time, if they see the benefit of your product or service.  Just like the secretaries and the Post-it® Notes, they will become evangelists for your brand.

Of course, in return, you need to be their secretary, too. Networking is a two sided process. If you want another business owner to carry your message to the marketplace, you have to be willing to carry theirs as well.