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.
Action-Packed Marketing – How A Call To Action Is the Most Important Marketing Ingredient!
Every year, I spend the day before Thanksgiving preparing my world-famous mashed potatoes. Well, at least they’re famous in my family! The key ingredient in the potatoes is salt. In the cooking world, salt is the beginning and end of ingredients. Even dessert and pastry cooking requires salt to enhance the sweetness. Yes, I know that it seems that the potatoes can end up tasting just like salt and nothing else but trust me, that’s not the case. You get great potato flavor with the Yukon Golds I use. Try leaving salt, even a pinch, out of your baking and see how it goes!
In local, small business marketing the key ingredient is a “call to action.” If you’re a big, national company like Coke or IBM or Target, you can do “image” or “brand” advertising. You can splash your logo on things and, then, you don’t even need words for people to recognize your company mark.
You, small business owner, don’t have the budget to get that recognition. That means that your advertising is doing double-duty. You are getting your brand out there AND using a call to action to generate response. You don’t get to cheap out on your brand identity. You just don’t use it all by itself.
The basic call to action is where you ask the reader/viewer/listener to DO something like “Call for a quote” or “Visit our website” or “Ask for a free consultation.”
Got An Action, Now What?
Okay, you have to have a call to action that is
a) suitable to the media – i.e. – click here for a website, visit our website in a print ad
b) suitable to the step in the sales cycle – i.e. – click here is low risk, call us is high risk
The more someone knows you and your business, the likelier they’ll take a bigger action. It’s progressive. Figure out the steps for your sales process and find marketing actions for your prospect to take each time.
Great List of Calls To Action
From the book, Words That Sell by Richard Bayan, here are some calls to action to insert in your marketing.
Part 1 – Prelude to the action
Do it today.
Decide for yourself.
Put our ideas to work.
Check it out.
Time’s running out.
You’ve waited long enough.
Part 2 – The Action Statement
Send for our free catalog.
For more details, call your…
In a hurry? Call….
May I hear from you soon?
Come in and introduce yourself.
Register for the event here.
Sign up and get your free____ today.
Just drop us a note.
Bring this coupon in.
You get the idea. Buy that book for even more great ones. Now, let’s see how you use your call to action to improve your results.
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!
Crowdspring.com published a fascinating article called Small Business Marketing: Best Times And Days To Send Email For Opens And Click-Throughs about the timing of emails and inlcuding this fantastic info graphic on figuring out the timing of email delivery.
Here are 7 takeaways from the article:
1) Find an email delivery resource that let’s you deliver the email based on where the recipient is. For instance, it’s good to deliver an email at 9am but if you launch it at 9am EST then it’s 6am PST and those Hawaiians are snoozing away at 3am HST.
2) Sending an email too late in the day means that it gets stale because the vast majority are opened within an hour of being sent. The longer it sits, the less likely the reader opens it or even finds it.
3) The peak opening hours are between 9am and 4pm with the highest opening time around 3pm.
4) Thursday is the best date followed very closely by Wednesday.
5) HOWEVER, know who your target recipient is helps determine the best time and day of the week for you. The perfect example is that at 6am on any cable news station Monday thru Friday, you’ll see ads for accounting firms and other services you’ll never see at 3pm. The appeal is to early-rising executives. That’s good context for your email delivery time and date.
6) Make sure you have your email in recipient’s boxes at least 1 hour prior to peak open times.
7) And, then, there’s this. Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing posted this yesterday:
Breaking research: the best time to post to your blog is when you have something useful to say. Not “Tuesday”. Not “weekly”. When you have something that is worth the interruption to your readers day to say “You need to know this.” not “I’ve been told frequency is good!”. Respect their inbox. Respect their feeds.
It’s not specifically about email newsletters but I took to heart to mean you can better connect with readers when you send them something of value and meaning to you.
Below is my cool pictograph that I borrowed with the do’s and don’ts of email marketing. Sums it up beautifully.
Curated (Borrowed) YouTube Video Channel On Your Website
Video is highly prized by the Google Algorithm (the secret formula that helps people find your website.) BUT…you don’t have to create your own videos to be visible. Create your own YouTube channel and hunt for how-to videos created by others, and related to your business, to add to your channel using playlists.
Get Website and Facebook Traffic With Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are dirt cheap right now. They are super easy to set up and far simpler to manage than Google AdWords. You can target them with certain keywords. Just make sure that you have a purpose to the ads like selling a specific product or making an offer to build your mailing list.
Craft An Editorial Calendar For Social Media and Blogging
Okay – this is my goal. I want to create a more purposeful plan for writing my newsletter and Facebook postings. An editorial calendar is a term from the newspaper and magazine business. In the calendar, you designate the time (month, week, day) when you are going to target a certain subject. For instance at say People Magazine, they always target the Sexiest Man Alive issue to be released the week of Thanksgiving. So, they know what ads and articles to include in the issue.
For you, you can designate one month to be all about a single subject. If you were in insurance, January might be about record-keeping and you might plan a blog or newsletter for each week on recordkeeping for your business, for your family, inventorying your personal belongings and gathering all your financials in a single place.
Using HootSuite or TweetDeck to Manage Social Media
If you are using Facebook and/or Twitter and LinkedIn for your social media, you need to check these out. From them, you can enter postings in advance and schedule them. This allows you to regularly post for say an event or a certain promotion without having to do it one at a time. You can still, and you should, post more time-sensitive material from your regular Facebook or Twitter accounts. By the way, you can automatically set up your Twitter to feed to your LinkedIn every time you tweet.
Find A Way To Incorporate Living Social or Groupon or Other Deal Services Into Your Business
Yes, it feels like stalking sometimes with deals and coupons. Customers are definitely suffering “deal fatigue” and the deal sites will see consolidation soon. But, the amount of people signed up for these services makes it very, very intriguing for you to find a way to get to a whole, new, perhaps, unexpected prospect by using a deal, even for your service business. Make sure you offer a limited amount and set a firm expiration date so you don’t get killed.
BONUS TIP – Quit overlooking print and direct mail advertising
Yes, I know these two marketing channels seem so last century. The graph here is from a survey of local merchants whose best success is coming from print newspaper and direct mail. I always tell people to consider postcards because there’s 100% readership. Any recipient has to look at a postcard to decide to throw it out or not. A well designed postcard can attract attention and drive people to your website or call you. Don’t underestimate the power of print.
Strategy and Implementation – A Tasty Combination
Should you think first or do first?
Which came first? Strategy or implementation?
Let me define strategy. Webster’s dictionary says:
2 a : a careful plan or method : a clever stratagem b :the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal
Oh, criminey. Now, I have to define stratagem.
1a : an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy b : a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end
2: skill in ruses or trickery
Oh, jeez. That didn’t work like I planned. I disagree with Webster’s characterization of trickery and ruse because a strategy is none of that. It’s a plan with an outcome in mind.
So, which came first? Some would say strategy. But, that’s not always true is it? Very few businesses have a full-blown business plan, if any at all, before they have their first customer.
You can conceptualize your company but you only really know if it’s a go when you start getting customers. Yet, implementation with no strategy is a recipe for disaster.
So, let’s call it a draw like the chicken and the egg. Both are tasty and work well together. Strategy and implementation do well together, too. And, they feed off of each other. Every time you implement something, you can refine your strategy. Writing this newsletter is a good example of learning as a I implement.
For instance, I wrote an article on editing and using wrong words and then didn’t listen my own advice. Another lesson was adding a table of contents at the top which I didn’t with my first version. Every time I implement, I’m thinking about my strategy of giving great, helpful information…of being a valued resource to readers. So, what’s your intention?
When You Develop A Local Lead Generation Strategy for Your Business, Ask Yourself These:
- What do you want your customers to perceive you as?
- What do you want to give them that they don’t know they need?
- How do you plan to walk your customers through your sales process? What baby steps do they have to take and what’s the first baby step they can take with you?
If You Are Going To Implement and Engineer Backwards, Ask Yourself These:
- What can I give that valuable to my clients or prospects?
- What’s the best way to reach them?
- Do I have a list that I can start communicating with right away?