“Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel”
I loved this book.  No, I didn’t read it.  I just read the cover!  It’s ‘over-the-top’.  But that’s why I’m writing about it and not something else.

My friend, THIS . . . is great copy!  “Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!).  Telling like it is (or, you hope it will be) is very, very attractive, isn’t it?

Skinny Bitch and The Elevator Pitch
Nice rhyme.  But I digress . . . My point of this post is that, like a book cover, your ‘introductory comments’ AKA elevator pitch need to rise above the hum-drum and capture the attention of people you’re talking with.  If it’s benign and ‘vanilla-esque’ then you’ll likely not be noticed and that, in business, can be verrrry deadly!

So ‘Go For It’ . . . take a chance . . . on change.  Tell the world WHO you are by sharing WHAT you do and FOR WHOM.  And when you think you’ve got it . . . throw in 20% more ‘edginess’ . . . just to be sure your words will work.

Tell it like it is . . . Go BIG or Go Home

“Should I attend a business event?”
Business events — a chamber meeting, a BNI open house, etc. are prolific.  So the issue isn’t where do you go to meet prospective partners and clients.  It’s DO you go to meet them, isn’t it?  And yes, it’s a choice.  You don’t have to go.  But I suggest you do.

Our Breakfast Club — New Haven, CT
Today I got up early and drove 45 minutes to attend a monthly business meeting.  As I left there, I was reminded why I need to take an obstacle course and get over myself — especially when I find myself debating whether I should go to an event, or not.

Lunch, Article, Prospect, Insight, Introduction, Social
These are all things that came from a morning meeting.  I scheduled a meeting for lunch with a prospect whom I also introduced to two people later in the day, I found the basis for a great article for my monthly column at TNNW, I gleaned great insights from the speaker, Joe Grushkin of InLineAdz and for social affiliation, I got a hug from one of the best there is at that — Peaches Quinn.  All this because when I had a chance to say, “No” . . . I said “Yes!”

Say “Yes!” and watch the miracles happen!

I was recently reminded that my worldly wisdom reflects a certain amount of insight into the ‘basics’ of what makes marketing effective. In this online, Google + world it IS nice to remember some of what makes the world go around and business happen.

The Offer Matters!
One basic of direct marketing is that you simply MUST . . . include an offer — an invitation to take some action assuming, of course, that your message is sufficiently relevant and provoking to generate a response.  Ernest Nicastro, a renowned copywriter and direct-marketing expert suggests some thoughts worthy of your consideration:

Reducing Risk Increases Response
Any offer that is both valuable and ‘FREE!’ is better than one that isn’t.
Marketing is a Two-Step Process
Seek first to generate a response, then seek to generate a sale — especially in a B2B world.
An Offer to Make Money Works Better than an Offer to Save Money
Especially true if you’re marketing to businesses more than consumers
Limited-Time Offers . . . Work!
Given a choice, qualified people will prefer to respond than lose out
Make Your Offer Compelling
You have little time and one ‘shot’ — make both count

Effective marketing invites ACTion from your prospects

iTunes App Store reveals that ‘free’ games are generating the majority of new revenues from the ‘Top 100″ money-makers.

But It Doesn’t Make Sense
No, it doesn’t. At first glance.  After all, if you’re giving something away without charge . . . how can you generate revenues and make a profit at the same time?

It’s called ‘SAMPLING’.  And it’s one of the oldest and best promotional tactics you can use to market your products or services.

Services Benefit The Most From Sampling
An intangible service is difficult to assess — until AFTER you’ve used it. But that requires a purchase.  And therein lies a problem.  You can’t tell if a service is good unless you buy it.  But you aren’t likely to buy it if you can’t tell that it’s going to be good.  And THAT . . . is why a small sample of your problem-solving expertise or ability is smart to offer — it’s unique, valuable and differentiates you quite nicely!

FREE! . . . isn’t a dirty word . . . IF . . . you apply it wisely!

A few years ago I was privileged to attend a workshop conducted by the legendary Seth Godin.  Seth, as you probably know, is a serious marketer and thought leader in his field.

At one point he discussed the purpose of ‘drip’ marketing. “OK. Consider what happens when you’re being admitted to the hospital. A skilled technician (phlebotomist) starts an I.V. by finding your vein with a needle so a benign fluid can keep the vein open until some doctor uses the line to shoot $500 into his or her back pocket”.

“Look, all cynicism aside, that’s pretty accurate.  The ER staff is like the sales staff of a business — they find the vein the way a salesperson finds a prospect and opens a case.  No one on the floor (i.e. administrative staff) could pop a vein (make a sale) if they had to so they make sure the needle is taped down really good.  And yes, once the line’s established in the vein, drugs can be given to the patient because access has been established earlier and maintained until it was needed”.

I have to agree with Seth.  What a ‘drip’ marketing campaign does is keep the prospect’s brain open the same way as an I.V. drip keeps the patient’s vein open.  In both cases, if you need to ‘get in’ with a useful drug or response-able information, having a quick and easy access could spell the difference between a good and a not-so good outcome for the patient or the marketer!

Keeping-In-Touch and Staying-in-Mind with prospects for your business or practice is a good practice to practice regularly!

There’s a two edged sword to being a ‘marketing’ consultant.  The up-side is that it makes you very likely to be engaged in a conversation about (what else?) ‘Marketing’.  The down-side is the same thing.

Here’s my challenge with this –– to truly address a marketing symptom — e.g. “insufficient sales”, you usually need to go beyond the obvious.  Far too many small business owners believe that a ‘Magic Bullet’ (i.e. a tactic) will cure their symptoms.  It won’t.

First, file ‘Magic Bullets’ with ‘Santa Claus’ and the ‘Tooth Fairy’ — they don’t exist in reality.  Second, accept that most marketing ‘issues’ have their roots in bad management.  Why?  Because inept management does encourage and support bad marketing practices.

But the basis of the consequential damages . . . ‘insufficient sales’ is often not cured by making a better call on some marketing tactic.  It’s more likely to be fixed when the management team begins to manage the business more effectively.

To fix bad marketing . . . fix the way you’re managing — it’s more likely to work!

I just saw a short video that reminds me of the importance of telling a ‘good’ story. It’s compelling.  It keeps your attention ALL the way through to the end (where the ‘point’ is made).

CLICK the above image to view the video.  It’s worthy of 60 seconds of your time.  Oh yes, it’s funny.  And if you think it’s not, you need a vacation — enjoy your July 4th holiday!

Storytelling is a ‘practical’ art but you can learn to do it — practice!!

When you want to connect with someone, you want to do it quickly and relevantly, fair?  Yes, but how? Duane Cashin, an outstanding public speaker and business consultant, gave a talk recently in which he revealed a wonderful structure for engaging quickly, easily and effectively with anyone: T.I.T.O.

T . . . Trends

Begin by offering to provide some ‘insights’ about recent ‘disturbing’ or ‘interesting’ trends that may affect the life or business of the person you’re speaking with — e.g. “Y’know, I read the Financial Times and there are 3 trends countries like Greece are revealing that American investors need to be aware of . . . ” (do you have their attention?)
I . . . Insights
Amplify the ‘data’ in the trends by filtering it with your own expertise.  Use this section to demonstrate you know your business — e.g. “What all these economic events are leading up to are 3 serious threats that can decimate your net worth if you don’t respond appropriately.  For example . . . ” (you think they’re gonna leave you now?”)
T . . . Threats
Present the consequential damages that failing to act appropriately may cause the unprepared or ill-advised person to suffer.  This should be a logical connection that arises from not using the insights you’ve provided based on the trends you’ve observed.
O . . . Options
By now, someone is ‘in pain’ and you can’t leave them that way.  So, offer a way out . . . of the pain they’re experienced now.  “What I find people are doing about these issues seem to fall into one of 4 kinds of response . . . ” (qualified prospects will identify themselves to you!)

Engaging prospective clients in a conversation is best done by design, not accident!

I attended a social media workshop today.  Local marketing gurus were assembled by Eric Lopkin, President of The Modern Observer Group.

Joel Leyden, the first speaker, asked a great question . . . “How did you learn about this program?”

In spite of using ‘Meet-Up’ to promote the event, the bulk of the people were in the room because someone they knew had shared the ‘news’ about the event with their ‘network’

Power of The People (We Know, Like and Trust)
While the topic was social media, I wonder how often, in our digital, nano-second mentality online world, you take the time to reflect on the most potent social medium available to your business . . . word-of-mouth?

Your Social Network is both online AND offline — leverage them both!

When you ask someone to engage with you . . . a conversation or a click . . . you’re asking them for two valuable commodities . . . their time and their money.

If you ask, you presume (or, hope) there’s some value in that connection, potentially, for you.  But where’s the value for the other person . . . i.e. your prospective client?

Feed First, Ask Second
Whether you’re trying to make friends with a neighbor’s new dog or a new prospective client, offer them something for the effort they must make to connect with you.

Special Reports and Special Relationships
A valuable commodity to exchange is your expertise in the form of a white paper or special report.  Not only is it an item of value — which generates reciprocity towards you, it also helps to build the perception that you are, in fact, an ‘expert’ in your field.   Creating these ‘gems’ once may be difficult but once you have them, you can use them again and again.  Sweet, non?  Here’s one of my own as an example.

Create Items of Value to build goodwill, reciprocity and position yourself as an expert in your field.