A Community Business Referral Network (CBRN) has recently launched in Gwinnett County, GA. Local area businesses have been hit by the bad economy and have seen a slowdown in customers and sales. Less foot and car traffic to main streets and local shopping areas has plagued many area businesses and restaurants. The number of Gwinnett County businesses that have closed, gone out of business or had to downsize has dramatically increased. A drive through the various towns reveals an alarming number of vacant storefronts and retail spaces. Going out of business signs and liquidation sales are also prevalent. Sadly, it is not uncommon to see half vacant shopping centers and strip malls.
Gwinnett County consists of Lawrenceville, Sugar Hill, Buford, Norcross, Duluth, Snellville, Lilburn, Grayson, Loganville and Dacula. Gwinnett County is one of Georgia’s largest counties. Local area businesses, in an effort to reduce and stop this disturbing trend have formed a Community Business Referral Network or CBRN. Members of the network will have 5-10 or more neighboring businesses referring their customers to each other electronically. The mission of the network is to help the local community and business districts thrive by having businesses help one another by using an automatic and interactive electronic referral system. The plan is to help each neighborhood reduce and hopefully eliminate businesses closing and downsizing. This will increase foot traffic and increase sales for members. According to reports this results in 30-75 new customers on average being referred to each member of the network.
When asked for a clarification on the referral system we spoke with Sandra Alexander from Salelynn Marketing. Salelynn Marketing has been chosen to administer the program and manage the network to ensure its success. It will take on the responsibly of running the referral system, helping businesses create compelling offers, providing additional advertising for offers, qualifying businesses for membership and other marketing and administrative duties.
Alexander stated, “Business owners realized they could help one another and create a thriving community. Many have customers that would be interested in other services that might be offered just down the street. They could actively recommend those customers to that business and keep our neighborhoods strong. As a member of the network, businesses and restaurants become part of a community deal site which will display offers and coupons to customers of the other businesses in the network.”
She added, “They will also have the ability to use this system to contact customers from all businesses to offer deals, invitations to events, make announcements and more. It allows each business to market to existing customers for more repeat business, but also to have access to market to new customers and the friends of those customers because it uses social media (such as Facebook) to spread the deal offers. Customers of each business are given an incentive to sign up using either a tablet placed in each business, cell phone, flyer or business card drop off. They will then receive offers from other CBRN business members to encourage them to patronize those businesses. In addition, the system spreads the deal to the social media profiles of customers that have signed up and new customers are then introduced to the businesses in the network. It’s a snowball effect that results in members of the network being introduced to hundreds of new customers a month.”
The network offers three levels of membership each adding different elements to help the business acquire customers and increase revenue. Basic membership in the network is less then $300 and some business are offered scholarships which allow them to become members free of charge. Membership also includes a monthly consultation with Salelynn Marketing, an online advertising and Internet marketing agency. During those consultations, a business can get free advice on advertising and marketing.
One of the first members of the network stated, “At first I didn’t think that this would work for my business, but it’s cheaper and more effective than things like Valpak and other coupon magazines and deal sites like Groupon. I’m also helping my community and neighboring businesses and they are helping me. I get a growing list of customers and potential customers that I can advertise to multiple times a month. So I get new customers and more sales from existing customers. Plus, I help keep the businesses going and storefronts in my neighborhood full.”
Area businesses are encouraged to help build the network by informing other area business owners about the program and to drive membership. The Community Business Referral Network or CBRN, while it has gotten it start in Gwinnett County, is open to all businesses and communities throughout the United States. The network can set up local chapters in any town or city, in any state.
A free demonstration of the service is available by contacting a representative of CBRN or Salelynn Marketing at (888) 281-5450 or visiting Community Business Referral Network to request more information. You can also email SalelynnMarketing@gmail.com with the subject line CBRN.