This article is for any firm or individual that has clients and a client base, rather than customers. It follows on from our other articles on Referral Marketing.
A Centre of Influence (COI) is ideally a client who knows your firm and at least one person in it very well and trusts and respects what you do and is confident enough to recommend you often and without hesitation.
The reason they are like this is a combination of their character, they are just naturally like that; and their social status or power status at work. COIs need to be identified within your client-base and treated very well for obvious reasons.
Other COI in the local area that are not yet clients need to be identified, researched and carefully approached. These could be executives at big firms in the area, managers of large clubs, the Major, local MPs, council executives and other public sector leaders, executives at your local Chamber of Commerce, newspaper and magazine editors, heads of influential business groups or associations, etc.
A brain storming session is needed to build a list then ascertain why a person would be useful to develop a relationship with, and how you go about it.
Ideally you want these COI's as clients and to get regular referrals from them; at the very least they need to know all about your firm and services and see you in a favourable light.
If in the course of conversations with a client it transpires that they need help with something, or they need a contact, then it clearly comes in handy if you can whip out your black book of COI contacts and other connections that you can introduce. You will be highly appreciated and remembered for when it comes to asking for referrals or recommendations in return.