Marketing means communicating with people. This also means that you cannot just wait for business to come to your door. Itâ€™s nice to have a listing in the yellow pages. Itâ€™s great having good walk-in traffic. You do need to circulate and meet your future customers and referrals outside your store or office.
â€¢ You need to go to places where your customers are.
Be involved in organizations where you can invest your time and come into contact with your best prospects. Whether you join a service organization (like Rotary, Lions) or your local chamber of commerce, you will be able to feel the pulse of your community just by being involved.
â€¢ Position yourself as a leader in your industry.
Accept a leadership position in an organization. Generate additional publicity by volunteering to speak before business classes and non-profit organizations. Yes, you do need some training in public speaking and presentations. Itâ€™s worth the small investment. If you take a public speaking course or join a â€œspeaking circleâ€ or Toastmasters club, you automatically exude your own brand of confidence. People will see you as someone going places.
â€¢ Build name recognition through publicity and public relations.
Media exposure lets people remember you even if you canâ€™t attend every networking event. If you have happy customers, theyâ€™ll be doing â€œword-of-mouthâ€ endorsements for you. Become a resource. Every story you read in the national or international newspapers has a local angle. Find out how the local angle involves you (especially if your business provides something unique that compliments the story and you have a good story to tell) and call your targeted media. However, build your media contact list first and determine which publication or TV station or radio stationâ€™s style of media would be appropriate for your story. Make sure you have the right contact person. Ask beforehand what days are deadline days so you donâ€™t unnecessarily disturb them. Be prepared to give a brief one-paragraph synopsis. Better yet, learn how to write a press release. Include product shots or charts or a fact sheet that gives bulleted information.
â€¢ Learn the networking basics and aim for life-long relationships.
Many business owners think that networking means meeting as many people as they can and exchanging business cards as fast as they can. Wrong! Even if you spend only about five to ten minutes with a person, you would at least have an idea if you like each other, what you both do for a living, and what type of prospects youâ€™re both looking for. Do what Susan Roane, renowned author of â€œHow To Work A Room,â€ preaches and practices. Redefine the word â€œstrangerâ€ as a friend you havenâ€™t met yet, act as if you are the host of your own party, and smile. Prepare a short self-introduction. Read a different publication a day so that you are prepared with topics you can talk about with new friends. Wear a blazer or jacket and place your business cards and pen in one pocket. Put your new friendsâ€™ business cards in the other pocket. Write notes behind each business card. Wear your nametag on your right side. Why? When you reach out to shake someoneâ€™s hand, your line of sight is to that personâ€™s right side. Practice your handshake. Know what kind of questions to ask. Remember your manners especially in introducing people. If you want to build a relationship with your new friends, arrange to have another meeting or a phone appointment. When you get back to your office, write your thank you cards immediately and include your friendsâ€™ names in your database. Follow up!
Bottom line: Stay in close contact with people over the years.
Â© Lorna Dietz, May 2002.