Why marketing to prospects who need you is a bad strategy

It sounds logical: if you’ve got a product or service that meets a need, then your next step is to find people or companies that need it really, really badly, because they’re the ones who are most likely to buy it. Right?

Um, no. Not if some recent research into consumer behavior has anything to say about it. In fact, the people who need you the worst may be the least likely to buy your product or service.

Why? It has to do with cat pee, cigarette smoke, and a weird quirk of human nature.

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How to get referrals from the Mafia

Ever joined one of those “business referral groups”?  You know the ones I’m talking about: they meet for coffee at 7:00 a.m. once a week, everybody gives an “elevator speech,” then everybody else promises to keep their eyes peeled for prospective customers for that person during the coming week.

For some members, this works great.  The real estate agents, armed with a hot prospect, call the insurance agents, who then call the home inspectors, and so on.

Same with the wedding planners.  (Everybody wants to be on their list, because nobody spends money like Bridezilla.)  Photographers, caterers, graphic designers (somebody’s got to design those custom cocktail napkins, darling) — they all pass business around to each other, and everybody’s happy, happy, happy.

The group I was in even had a name for it: mafias.  As in, the real estate mafia for the real estate agents and the insurance people, the wedding mafia for the wedding planners and photographers, etc.  The goal was to get everybody hooked into their own mafia so they could pass prospects around.

And that worked great — for those in transactional businesses.  For others, though, the whole scheme fell a little flat.  In fact, one of the persistent criticisms I heard when I was a member of a networking group is that this whole mafia thing doesn’t work for business consultants and life coaches and their ilk.  To those folks, it hardly seemed worth getting up before the crack of dawn for the meetings.  Our membership churn rate reeked of disillusionment.

But what were we to do?

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Why your marketing plan needs an editorial calendar

When you think about marketing your business, you probably think in terms of numbers – how many prospects you’ll contact, how much revenue each campaign should generate, how many people you have in your referral network.

But smart marketers look beyond the numbers to the content – and the timing – of their marketing communications. They use an editorial calendar. Continue reading

What eating a sandwich in front of your dog can teach you about marketing

Ever sat at your kitchen table, about to take a bite out of a yummy sandwich worthy of Dagwood, only to look over and see those eyes?

You know the ones I’m talking about.  They’re big.  Dark.  A little watery.  And they don’t blink.

They’re the dog’s.

And you know what he’s thinking (assuming he does it in actual words): “Wow. Look at that. You’re gonna share some of that … right?”

(As uncomfortable as this scenario might be for you, though, think about how the dog feels.)

So, what does this have to do with marketing?

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Why your marketing materials make people go “Huh?”

A friend of mine who does a bit of on-the-side light editing for friends posed this question to me over coffee this morning:

Why do so many people’s marketing materials make me cringe?

She was quite honestly baffled.  Perfectly intelligent people, most of whom managed to get through college with at least a “C” average, would write up descriptions of their products and/or services in a way that made her look at them and go, “Huh?”

She hasn’t really studied writing per se, but she knows enough intuitively to understand that a grammatically-correct sentence isn’t necessarily a well-written one.

“All I do,” she said, puzzled, “is change the passive voice to the active voice and cut out all the extra words, and they react as if I’ve performed some sort of miracle.”

“And then,” she continued,” they come back the next time with the exact same mistakes. Why?”

The answer: They’re using The Official Style.

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Guest Post: How getting your groceries delivered could make you a million dollar business owner

So I was sitting in a sushi place downtown one day, eating my usual Sesame Chicken with Tempura Vegetables, reading my USA Today, minding my own business.

And this caught my eye in the Money section:

Is Time Really Money? For These Millionaires, Yes.

And the more I read, the more intrigued I was.  So much so that I could hardly wait to get back to a computer and start a blog post.

Courtesy of Sylvia Browder, it’s now online.  Enjoy.

Guest Post: Be more memorable at networking meetings

I’m a big fan of geeky “applied science” books.  You know the ones – Malcolm Gladwell, et al. – where they intersect some cultural or other phenomenon with scientific research for an “aha!” moment.

One of my long-term favorites is Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence. And when the incident I talk about in this guest post happened, his explanation of how Broca’s Area in the brain functions to ration our capacity for attention came immediately to mind.

A big thanks to my friend Sylvia Browder for allowing me to riff on this idea in her sandbox.

Guest Post: “Tapping the Power of Story in Your Marketing”

Friend and colleague Sylvia Browder, the superwoman (Business Coach! SCORE Counselor! Mom to Five Kids!) who’s Project Director at the Women’s Business Center, Inc., has graciously added me as a Contributor on her blog (http://sylviabrowder.wordpress.com). Once my post goes live, check the comments below for a trackback.

If you own a small business (whether you’re a woman or not), you owe it to yourself to visit her blog regularly or, even better, add her RSS feed to your RSS reader (I use Google Reader) and get a steady stream of great advice from someone who knows her stuff.

(Oh, and I’m just going to say it out loud. I covet her house. Truly. Two words: Gaw. Jus.)

Update: Here’s a link to the post: http://sylviabrowder.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/tapping-the-power-of-story-in-your-marketing/

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