Tag Archives: marketing strategy


In an earlier post, we talked about how to work a room when you’re networking.  If you were fortunate to meet an excellent potential client or referral source at that event, your key to success with a networking marketing strategy is follow-up!

Do you have a marketing strategy for networking?  For following up?

Assume you had an interesting conversation with an accountant who, you discover, has years of experience working with the types of companies you want to connect with.  Assume this accountant has been looking for someone like you to whom they can refer some of their clients who need your services.  Assume this accountant also seemed pleased with your responses to her questions and asked you to call and set up an appointment to get together for a smoothie or coffee.  That connection alone made attending the event worth the entire evening, in your opinion.

Now let’s assume it’s a week later and you have yet to make that follow-up phone call.  In the book of right ways to do things, that follow-up phone call should have been made within 24 hours of the event.  The preference would have been to pull up the calendars on your smart phones and make the appointment right there on the spot, but if that wasn’t done, the call needed to be made the next day.  Having a time frame for following up, and how it’s done are part of a networking marketing strategy.

How do you handle the fact you messed up on following up?  Here are some scenarios:

  • You make the call and humbly apologize, paying attention to the tone of her voice to determine if there’s a coldness to her response, which is also verified by whether she still wants to meet with you.  She may meet, but is likely to be skeptical of your ability to follow-up with her referrals in light of how you followed up with her, meaning she may be hesitant to refer clients to you;
  • You wait for her to call you and, if she does, express your confusion about whether you were supposed to call or she was.  If she calls, she is obviously still interested, so stay on top of the relationship from there on out;
  • You avoid making the call and anticipate you will run into her again at the next networking event.  Be prepared to eat humble pie if she shows up at that one or any of the next events where you may both be in attendance.  You may have a ready excuse, but it may carry little weight in convincing her you really are good at following up with people, and she may have already made a different alliance that shuts you out of getting any potential business referred to you;
  • You call her with a referral for her, and apologize for the delay with an excuse that you were working on the referral before you followed up.  It might work if she appreciates the referral, especially if she can convert it into business; or,
  • You write it off as a lost cause, toss her card in the recycling bin, and kiss the potential referrals business good-bye.

Which scenario would you be most comfortable using a week after meeting someone?  Which is most likely to nurture that relationship and lead to referrals?

How much easier is it to carve a few minutes out of your busy schedule to grab your phone, dial the number, and exude enthusiasm for having met the person last night?  Make that part of your networking strategy.

Follow-up is easy if done promptly.

Two quick examples of what it can mean for your business:

Trying to scrap an old vehicle, I contacted a salvage yard that had been recommended to me.  Several phone calls and voice mail messages failed to get a response.  I contacted one I had used before and they were on site within an hour, gave me a fair price and hauled off the vehicle.  I heard from the first one an hour after the vehicle was gone.  Too bad, so sad.

Looking for a plumber, I contacted two in the community where the work needed to be done.  The same scenario of waiting for a call back played out, until I called the second one.  The first had been highly recommended so I was giving them the benefit of the doubt.  Within an hour after contacting the second, the first finally called after more than a week.  Yes, I understand plumbers can be busy people, but a courtesy phone call does wonders to build credibility and that level of trust you expect from contacting a business.

Part of your corporate marketing strategy should be to carve out a brief time period every day to make those follow-up phone calls or to merely follow-up on whatever you need to follow through on. Your customers, prospects, and referral sources will appreciate it.

Working A Room When Networking

Networking events get you face-to-face (F2F) with potential customers, whether you’re the business owner or a sales person, so knowing how to work a room correctly is an essential skill in today’s high-tech business environment.

At a recent event, one of the participants was sitting at a table checking her E-mail.  I commented to someone I was networking with that this type of event is about net working and you should avoid net sitting or net eating.  The person in question realized her mistake, got up, and came over to the small group that I was with to make her introductions.  She admitted she should have been up and meeting people instead of catching up on her E-mails, which can be done at any other time.

There once was a preferred E-mail response time that has given way to texting when it comes to urgent matters.

The people who are there to network with you and other participants are only in your presence for a limited time, so you need to take advantage of those moments.

In a traditional view of F2F networking, the idea is to meet, greet, and exchange business cards with as many participants as possible.  The fallacy in that approach is you rarely spend any quality time getting to know the other people and you go home with a pile of business cards that usually winds up in another pile on your desk somewhere.  If you are religious about following up on the business cards you receive, give yourself bonus points. If they stay in a pile for more than a week, deduct a whole slew of points and try a new approach.

This is a less new than an unused approach.

Go to networking events prepared.  Yes, be prepared!  You need business cards but if the people in attendance use the LinkedIn-related CardMunch app, they can take a picture of your card and give it back to you, as I did several times at the last event.  It syncs up with LinkedIn and the person’s profile, so the card becomes another one in a pile if you keep it.  You make take it back and plug it into Outlook or other management system.  If you do, toss the card unless you want to wallpaper your office with business cards.

What I mean by being prepared, though, is to know which professionals are valuable for you to meet and network with at these events.  If you get referrals from CPAs, for example, you want to meet any other certified public accountants who may be attending the event.  If you get referrals, or can give referrals to a graphic artist, spend time with the ones you meet at the event.  Find out if they have specialty areas or enjoy one aspect of being creative more than another form.

On the other hand, if you meet or get introduced to someone in a profession that has little value to you our your business, be courteous and make small talk but then look for a way to exit gracefully.  Keep in mind they may know someone you might want to meet someday.

The most graceful exit strategy may be to simply say:  “Excuse me, but I just saw someone I’ve been waiting to meet.  Do any of you know (and point out the person)?”  If they know them, they may feel comfortable introducing you – so make sure it is someone you truly want to meet.  If they don’t know that person, they are all likely to respond, “Nope, sorry,” which gives you permission to bail.  Or … simply excuse yourself.

Hang on to their cards, if you feel it may be worth giving them a call to prospect at some point.

With the people you do meet and get to spend a few minutes with, remember you are trying to make a connection.  Ask them about what they do, and listen to what they say.  Let them do the talking, but be prepared to give a brief overview of how you may be able to use their services, help them in some capacity, or refer business to them.  The more you let them talk, the better you look as a conversationalist, and less pushy as a sales person.

Networking is about being visible with the people you want to establish credibility with, and then working to build the trust that will solidify a relationship.  Be confident in yourself and in your ability to make small talk.  Try to have some fun,too.


Does Social Media Work?

If you’ve wondered whether you should engage social media for your business, the April 17th edition of USA Today shared the results of a study you might find interesting.

Here are some of the key elements of the article by Oliver St. John for you to consider as a business owner:

The CEO of Manta, Pam Springer, is quoted as saying the negative impression business owners have about using social media is “…probably because they don’t know how to launch a successful social-media campaign…”  She recommends connecting with other business owners to get advice, but only 36% of businesses do this.

There are resources available for business owners to connect with other owners and discuss topics such as social media.  In Green Bay, there’s a networking group consisting of only business owners that meets the 1st Wednesday of every month at the Green Bay Yachting Club.  There are other networking organizations for business owners as well.

The CEO of Crackerjack Marketing, Stephanie Schwab, is cited in the article as saying many small businesses “…just don’t have a place in social media.”  She’s right in the sense you need not put your business in the social media environment because of peer or media pressure to be there.  What she adds is that you need to know what you’re trying to get out of a social media campaign.

That’s common sense when it comes to marketing your business.  Far too many business owners lack a strategy for marketing their products and services.  If the only reason you advertise on TV is because the sales representative talked you into buying the time, you will either stumble into success or endure costly failure.  You need to strategize and, as Schwab adds, use “…marketing techniques already proved to work, such as having a website.”

One of the business owners covered near the end of the article said social media hasn’t helped her business, which sells $5,000 to $40,000 pool jobs.  She added, however, that out of the 200-300 jobs she does every  year, three or four come from people online.  Even at the low ($5,000 level) end, that could be as much as $20,000!

She gets most of her customers through referrals.  That is the preferred way to get new business for most of us, and what business owners fail to realize is that they should have a strategy for that aspect of marketing their business as well.

I always find articles such as this one fascinating, especially when 61% of small businesses fail to see any return on their investment in social media.  A similar article in Advertising Age, a marketing trade publication, a few years ago cited a study that showed roughly the same percentage (62%) of advertisers were dissatisfied with their agencies.  What I’ve discovered and believe strongly in is that, as a business owner, you must take the time to think through what your business is all about; less about where you’ve been and more on where you want to be.

When that picture is clear, how you need to market your business also becomes clear.  The proprietary process used at Brand Irons can walk you through the process, save you money over the long run, and add to your bottom line if you’re willing to change the way you’ve always done things.

To answer the question posed in the headline:  Yes, if you have a strategy that is designed to reach your target demographic.