Every month Prairie Business asks several regional business leaders a question, and they answer with their perspective and insight.

The question we asked for June is: “What is one of the best ways you have found to reach new clients or customers?”

Below are how four of the region's exemplary business leaders responded:

Amber Larson, senior marketing manager, Bartlett & West, Bismarck, N.D.

As an engineering, architecture and construction services firm, Bartlett & West typically connects with new or existing clients through trade shows, industry training events and face-to-face meetings.

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Amber Larson
Amber LarsonCourtesy of Bartlett & West

Obviously, last year put a halt to all those activities. We quickly moved to hosting online webinars and virtual socials to fill those gaps.

Within a month of COVID hitting, we built and began hosting free, online webinars. They helped contacts meet ongoing training requirements and generated new project opportunities through valuable content. The webinars have been so popular that we foresee continuing to offer the training option even as other events come back.

However, for existing customers, nothing replaces the value of picking up the phone or meeting in person.

Max Kringen. founder and chief storyteller, Tellwell, Fargo, N.D.

At Tellwell, we believe story is the most powerful way to introduce your brand, educate and engage your customers, and remind them why they love you.” Those four words – introduce, educate, engage, and remind – form the four-step marketing funnel that we share with each of our clients. They also guide our own internal marketing processes.

Max Kringen
Max KringenCourtesy of Tellwell.

If a prospective client is completely unfamiliar with Tellwell, we’ll introduce ourselves with a brief brand story and invite them in for a discovery, where we can educate them about the work we do and (hopefully) engage them in a project. Or, if we’ve worked together in the past, we’ll remind them who we are and why we matter by checking in with them regularly and providing nuggets of wisdom to help them proactively solve their problems.

The marketing funnel is all about meeting people where they are and providing them with just the information that they need to do whatever it is we want them to do. In the wise words of Brene Brown, “clarity is kind.” As humans, we deal with enough information overload already – we are most receptive to marketing messages that are concise, relevant to us, and come with a few easy action steps.

Erik Hatch, Realtor, owner, broker, Hatch Realty, Fargo, N.D.

At Hatch Realty, our greatest “lead sources” come from our past clients and sphere of influence. With over 5,000 past clients and thousands of other nurtured relationships throughout the community, this is always the primary target for us to foster growth within our ecosystem.

Erik Hatch
Erik HatchCourtesy of Hatch Realty

We host four events annually that target and focus on those that already know/like/trust us. These events are opportunities to give back, to create unique experiences, and to give us a platform to reach out and connect with people. Our events are not about us taking or asking for business -- rather, they are all about us coming from contribution with no strings attached.

Our annual “pie day” takes place the week of Thanksgiving, and we give away nearly 2,000 pumpkin pies to our friends, family, and past clients. This pie-day giveaway is the largest real estate giveaway in the country, and it has served as a great way for us to continue to build relationships and capture more mind-share from people that are our raving fans.

Tom Nickell, CEO, Mobile Recon Systems LLC, Grand Forks, N.D.

We design and manufacture Unmanned Aircraft Systems, focusing on ones with higher payloads. That enables our UAS to serve a variety of functions.

Tom Nickell
Tom NickellCourtesy of Mobile Recon Systems LLC

If we try to grow our business reaching customers directly, to convince them to use our aircraft for what they need to accomplish, we may only be providing part of their solution. It's better for us to work with a company providing the actual solution – a LiDAR-based 3D map of an archaeological site, a cover crop planting with an aerial seed spreader, a windmill inspection with a multi-spectral camera, to name a few – so the solution and our UAS can be integrated to provide results the customer will be delighted in.

So, we find a great way to gain customers is by working with the solution providers to make their solution the best it can be. Then, with that fully-integrated solution, the payload and the aircraft, the end user customer is happier. And, when we've done it right, we have gained access to an entire "use case."