Shortest way to customers? Face to face marketing. Read how:
Shockingly, the solution for finding new customers quickly these days ISN’T social media. Customers for local businesses are staring them in the face…literally. The people who’ll become your client are usually standing across from you at a networking event, are sitting next to you at a BNI meeting, are the customers of someone you know.
I know, I know. I get plenty of business owners asking me questions over social media. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest are invaluable tools in getting your message out. They’re white-hot in terms of publicity and attention.
But, white-hot media doesn’t make it a great choice I caution local business owners that it’s requires planning and investing time. While the Internet is an invaluable marketing tool, sometimes you need to get customers faster than waiting for someone to like your Facebook page and interact with you. Gathering followers and likes on Twitter and Facebook can be done rapidly. Turning them into paying customers is a different proposition.
The Young Entrepreneur Council highlights the value of “old-fashioned marketing” in their article 13 Traditional Marketing Strategies You Can’t Afford To Ignore, and FIVE of 13 tips cited face to face events to meet potential customers.
Here’s a couple of tips:
“When it comes to traditional marketing, I still invest in on-site marketing activities such as events and sponsorships. On-site marketing is not only a great way to make a lasting connection with your target market, but also provides the opportunity to capture great content such as photos and videos which are perfect to release via your social media channels.”
– Kevin Tighe II | Co-founder and CEO, WeBRAND
Local Events Pay Off
“Yes, events IRL (in real life) are beneficial for the customer to jumpstart a relationship with the company and to get hands on with the product. This will encourage the customer to spread word of mouth which is the most influential and valuable part of marketing because it is means more if someone else has something to say from their personal experience and familiarity with the product.”
– Lane Sutton | Social Media Coach, Social Media from a Teen
Networking in Person
“I don’t budget much for most traditional marketing, but I’m always willing to pay to attend an event or a conference. In-person networking always pays out a major return on my investment.”
– Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting
I get it. Spending a couple of hours working on social media seems more efficient than going out and talking to people. It’s time consuming developing relationships. You can’t easily measure the results like you can when you get a new like or follower. I know.
Yet, all that body language, all those things we see and experience in the presence of others just can’t short cut the marketing process like a live person can. You’re just going to have to suck it up and get out there, cupcake.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve knuckled down and gone to lots of networking, some times when I wanted to stay home and empty my DVR contents. I’ve attended conference to better my skills and resources. All this while I spend time writing this blog, developing my Twitter and Facebook accounts and postings. Over and over, when I staked my claim in local marketing expertise and got clear about my market, it just got easier and easier to meet people. My enthusiasm jumped. It’s really, really starting to pay off in new business and referrals. All of this coming from developing relationships in person.
Here’s a short list of face to face marketing activities:
- Structured networking like BNI and Le Tip
- Informal networking at Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, community events
- Business showcase or local expo
- Seminars and conferences you attend
- Seminars and talks you give
9 Face to Face Marketing Tips
- Find the Time Vampires and stay away from them. You never know when you meet people where it will lead but, it’s okay to do a gut-check and not take a business card or make a commitment to follow up.
- If you attend an event you didn’t create, be respectful of the event producer by introducing yourself, not hogging the platform.
- Create a little goal for yourself at each event: Collect 3 great contacts, introduce 2 people to each other, find someone you can refer.
- Respect people in a trade show booth. They paid to be there. You don’t get to take advantage of their largesse by running around and advertising to them. Look for strategic relationships at showcase events. Mnimize the time you spend in their booth. Commit to follow up.
- Don’t let others influence your opinion of an event or group. What’s good for your friend, might not work for you and vice versa. Look for groups that fit you.
- Structured networking can seem daunting but having goals and objectives help keep everyone accountable.
- Raising your profile by creating your own events takes work. Consider partnering with someone or getting professional help. Don’t let your fear stop you, though.
- If you don’t want to create your own events, find out where you be on a panel or speak at someone else’s events.
- Lastly, do your face to face with an open heart. Give to get. Remember that it’s an imperfect human you’re dealing with. They may need a little gentleness from you.
Traditional marketing isn’t done. And, face to face isn’t done either. Reading body language, listening to tone, seeing what’s in front of you. Humans will never be done with in-person contact. We’re smart and smarter than a compute (except for calculating huge equations.) In a technological world, I say it’s more crucial than ever to keep pursuing interpersonal relationships to push your sales higher.
Have you ever attended a networking event where someone just went up and shoved a business card or flyer in your hand?
I had a guy at a chamber mixer start talking to me about freestanding saunas and telling me that I should have one, that it was only $6,000 to buy one and all the health benefits. I kept trying to get a word in and tell him that I hated saunas because I feel claustrophobic in them. How did he know that’s where I wanted to spend my money or if I had the room? It was annoying and funny at the same time. He was just clueless.
Don’t be THAT guy!
The Achilles’ heel of networking is too many people expecting too much in a short amount of time. Marketing and relationship-building is an investment. Networking in an investment. People you meet are not ATMs. They are people craving connection. The first thing to deliver is openness, genuine curiosity and authenticity.
My friend, master networker, Kristy Rogers of Kristy Rogers Connects, teaches her clients how to be a pleasure to do business with. Every step of interacting with other people should be a pleasure. That’s not stiff, boring or clinical. It’s authentic, warm, caring. Isn’t that what we want in the human experience anyways?
Ivan Meisner, Founder of BNI (Business Networking International) , wrote recently in Entrepreneur magazine online:
Many people rely on referrals from others as a primary source of business. However, not everyone who relies on referrals is successful. Why is this? I’ve studied these folks — and those who are not successful seem to have “surface level” referral relationships.
They know just enough about their referral sources’ businesses to get by. They don’t actually know a lot about the people themselves. They tend to say vague things like: “He is really nice,” “You’ll like her; she’s a good person,” or “Well, if you just meet with him, I am sure you’ll like him.” If pressed further, they probably couldn’t tell you much more about those people — and they almost certainly have not built enough social capital with them to count on them when they really need something from the relationship (and vice versa).
Most people go to a networking event to “meet” people. So many think “meet” means get sales, failing to realize that marketing is like dating. If the guy wants to marry you on the first date, RUN! He’s probably a stalker or remaking an episode of Criminal Minds. If you don’t date like that, why do you market like that?
Before you become the Networker From Hell, consider this:
5 Do’s and Don’ts To Being A Pleasure to Network With
It’s time to have a little fun, support the group that’s running it, try out some wine, get some good food and meet people like you would at a social function…within limits like staying sober and not being obnoxious.
1) Go to network with an open heart
I had a business coach who would ask me after every event if who I met was a lead or not. I DID NOT like that. How should I know? I had met them for a few minutes, I had no idea. BUT, I did know that would meet for coffee or a chat on the phone and figure out how we could help each other. Maybe we couldn’t. Maybe they were someone who could help me or I could refer them. I just didn’t know until I talked with them more. All I’ve ever wanted to do is meet great people. I’ve learned…Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and been surprised…a lot!
2) Be genuinely curious
Ever heard this before? Act like the host. Most people don’t know what that means. To me, you just ask good, open-ended questions and pepper in some conversation extenders like:
- “What do you do?”
- “Tell me more about that.”
- “How did you get into your business?”
- “What were you doing before your current job?”
- “What’s the best part of your business?”
- “Where else are you networking?”
- “That sounds good.” “I never thought of it like that.”
You don’t have to be fake. It’s just like meeting a new friend.
3) Don’t drink too much. Stay away from hot-button issues?
Oh, regrets. I’ve had a few. Being tipsy at a business function has never served me well. So, I won’t drink at networking functions anymore. But, staying away from hot-button issues? I’ve had some great conversations when disagreeing with others. I look for people who have a strong opinion. It doesn’t faze me. Do what fits your style and taste. You may not like to be so outgoing. That’s okay. As long as it’s not insulting, I think having a different idea is good. Either way, just don’t be afraid to be yourself.
4) Commit to get deeper
Someday you’ll have to ask Speaking Guru, Lynn Kirkham of Yes! You Can Speak, about our initial deep conversation. The amount of people we had in common was astonishing! We discovered we had a mutual good friend (to both of us) and we called her from my cell phone but Lynn was speaking. Our friend was soooo confused…at first. After that, Lynn and I quickly bonded. It just took a while for us to get really deep. The more we got to know each other, the more we strengthened our friendship and business relationship, to do business with each other. Getting deep can create incredible referral sources for us and create wonderful friends.
5) Be in it for the long haul
Getting referrals, good ones, takes time. Having great connections takes time. Go to your networking knowing you want to meet quality people that see it like you do…long-term. In the “marketing is like dating”, it may not be marriage but a steady long-lasting relationship is an beautiful outcome.
See. You can save yourself from becoming the Networker From Hell and be a pleasure to network with. Just need a little gumption and commitment!