BERLIN, February 13, 2019 — Networking is in the DNA of every company. "We trust who we know" — this is the idea behind the success of BNI, the world's leading business networking company. Today, BNI is looking to explore new referral marketing opportunities online: "The Internet has become the predominant factor in networking,"says Harald Lais, Managing Director at BNI Germany/Austria. Together with the referral marketing platform ProvenExpert.com, BNI is expanding its business into the online world. The facts are clear: 85 percent of consumers trust online referrals as much as they do personal recommendations, making online reviews and ratings a crucial factor in purchase decisions. Remo Fyda, CEO of ProvenExpert.com, knows: "Having an online presence is a clear competitive advantage."
Time for change and new opportunities
Business is best when sealed with a handshake — in its 34 years of operation, BNI has come to understand the power of personal contact. But, as Harald Lais knows, times are changing: "Our goal is to remain the world's most successful business network. So, it's important for us to adapt how we work to keep pace with the times. Obviously, this includes strengthening our online presence,"says Lais. Today, the Internet is the number one source of consumer information: 86 percent of consumers search for information about local products and services online before making a purchase. Recommendations from BNI member companies made the decision to partner with ProvenExpert.com a quick one. An initial pilot project for BNI and its members in Berlin and Stuttgart resulted in 23,000 generated reviews in roughly 1.5 years. "The companies saw a clear jump in awareness,"says Lais.
Two markets, one language — referrals bring businesses together
The partnership between BNI and ProvenExpert is a true plus for both parties. While personal recommendations will continue to play an important role in consumer purchases, more and more companies are turning to reviews and ratings to drive referrals. Today, 9 out of 10 consumers use the Internet to double-check recommendations from people they know. "We're providing our members with a way to actively increase consumer trust in their products and services through online reviews,"says Lais. BNI is home to business operators from hundreds of specialist fields which work together to increase sales for entrepreneurs through new contacts and business referrals. The top five among these are tax accountants, real estate agents, insurance agents, plumbing/heating installers and photographers. These professions also enjoy strong representation on ProvenExpert. "Customer reviews and ratings play an especially important role in purchase decisions for preventative services and services which require a lot of imagination,"explains Fyda.
Success for all — ambitious goals
The partnership allows BNI to kill two birds with one stone: as its member companies succeed, the reputation of its entire network improves. Harald Lais has big plans for BNI in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: "In 2018, BNI companies in the three German-speaking countries generated over €1.1 billion in revenue through personal referrals alone. Our network is getting bigger all the time, and our next goal is to break the 2-billion-euro barrier." ProvenExpert is expected to play a crucial role in helping BNI achieve this increase of just under €1 billion in revenue. The formula is simple: contacts are established offline by BNI, and more detailed information and positive ratings are displayed on the company's own website with the ProvenExpert rating seal. "There's no form of advertising more authentic or effective than consumer opinion,"explains ratings expert Fyda. Lais and Fyda agree: if everything goes according to plan, a global rollout of the ratings tool is as good as certain for BNI.
Together with Remo Fyda as CEO, ProvenExpert.com has become one of the best-known online platforms for qualified customer feedback and review aggregation in the region of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Since 2011, the referral marketing platform offers targeted industry surveys that companies can customize and use in a matter of minutes to start collecting feedback from customers. The surveys provide detailed insight into the needs of customers and their satisfaction levels, as well as helping to uncover new business potential. The resulting feedback can be easily used for online marketing purposes with ProvenExpert's rating seal and profile and combined with customer reviews from over 380 websites like Facebook, Google, and other platforms. Over 55,000 freelancers, entrepreneurs and large companies use ProvenExpert.com's online surveys to collect customer feedback. As of 2017, the ProvenExpert platform is also available in English.
Business Network International (BNI) is the world's largest business network and leading professional platform for business referrals. Founded in 1985 in Arcadia, California by business consultant Dr. Ivan Misner, today BNI® has more than 8,600 chapters in 71 countries covering all five continents. BNI's declared goal is to generate sales for its members through new contacts and business referrals. The core features of BNI's network include: a focus on measurable results, exclusive regional professions, no commissions, and annual activity and performance qualifications. www.bni.de