What a week it has been. Busy recording and doing a ton of refreshing to the web site (more on that in a later post).
Plus the weather is getting better so all the humans in the northeast are coming out of hibernation. Evening walks are often pleasantly interrupted by neighbors outside chatting, that’s a good thing.
Taxes were due this week and I need to confirm something that has been widely speculated – New York State does indeed suck.
Daughter got a cold from one of the kids at the christening awhile back so wife catches the cold tooâ€¦.while nursing and caring for our birthday boy (who is two months old today, hurray!) This all means moods are justifiably all over the place by the time I get back from work (did I mention the kitchen re-do that’s going on in the midst of all this).
From the blogosphere two immense surprises directly related to yours truly. One was via Kara Edwards responding to a blog tag from Stu Grayâ€¦.I was also tagged and didn’t realize it (and I’m a subscriber to his blogâ€¦but a bleary eye subscriber for the past two months â€“ see above). So I jotted down some thoughts- about- his- query.
Then the ultimate compliment and a first, I thinkâ€¦.I was not only in the title of a blog post but most of it was written about me. Amazing. And it was complimentary. Doubly amazing.
My pal and fellow VO Mary McKitrick (who was one of the first voices added to the International Voice Talents web siteâ€¦Muss sie Deutsch sprechen? Ja, das ist richtig.) was harkening back to a post I made on the VO-BB I think in the early 1930’s regarding marketing tricks, tools and habits.
One of my marketing habits for years has been to have breakfast at a local bagel shop. Now it didn’t start as a marketing habit so much as a “I like to eat and see people and when you’re working at home you don’t always get to see people so a bagel shop every morning is a good option” habit. But it evolved in to a marketing habit as I began to see business peers there and we would chat up business. Leads began to appear and I began to close some business.
Turns out my marketing habit (aka the bagel marketing theory , I call copyright!) has stuck in Mary’s impressive cranium for sometime.
Now part of the success of the BMT/sales lead strategy is that I knew some of the people I saw at the bagel shop from other networking events I attendedâ€¦and I am very aggressive in my networkingâ€¦I go to as many events as time allows.
Sidebar: I went to a new trade show yesterday, so active are my marketing hormones, and got one good lead. For the people at the booths who had been there since mid-morning, it looked like they were attending a wake. They were sooo glad to see me; “steady but slow” was how they described the traffic at the show. I don’t think we’ll see this trade show again next year.
So the BMT was what Mary was commenting on in her blog, to the extent that practically and as a habit she can’t bring herself to do bagel marketing.
It is because she’s anti-bagel? Well it might be as she referenced in her blog a very healthy breakfast option that sounded disgustingly natural and good for you. For those of us with the gigantisch networking gene, we attend events with fat filled muffins and sugary sweet danish and Swedish meatballs and often a fully stocked bar. Don’t let the occasional fruit or vegetable tray fool you. Professional networkers eat like crap because we have more important things to do, like pass business cards and laugh heartily at unfunny stories. But I digress.
Understand that until the kidney stones reared their pesky selves last year, I’ve had a large Pepsi and Cinnamon Raisin bagel with butter not toasted waiting for me every morning for years, 6-7 days a week. You do the calorie count on that feast and I’ll get you a donut while we’re waiting. Now I ease up on the Pepsi, how sad. And I seem to still be digressing, back now to my bagel marketing theory.
So Mary’s possible bagel prejudice aside (and we all have prejudices, mine revolve around vegetables) she has a real and practical challenge in the morning of getting her family started on their day.
This is also a challenge I now face. Yes, the bagel marketing routine at audio’connell Voice Over Talent has been interrupted by children.
Children, it turns out, are akin to marketing kryptonite. Time once set aside for networking (bagel or otherwise) is now taken up by family activities and responsibilities. Now, we all have children to serve a very real need in our hearts and livesâ€¦which is to have them grow up healthy and strong enough to do the our chores for us (house cleaning, lawn care etc) and so that we parents may be an enormous burden to them in our later years. It’s the circle of life.
Mary and I both share this marketing kryptonite challenge now though she is closer to her breakfast finish line than I am. Nor does she share my opinion of children’s true purpose in their parent’s livesâ€¦well actually neither do I but it sure does read funny.
In her post, Mary touched on what I think is the crux of the matter (she’s too smart not to have figured it out). It doesn’t have to be a breakfast place or even breakfast time when you network everyday or at least a few days a week. Doesn’t even have to be a meal.
Business owners need to figure out where the potential leads are, see how that location or activity fits into your daily schedule and if you can swing it, do it. Regularly. Hence the habit. And obviously for it to work, it has to be something you enjoy.
And if you can’t swing a bagel marketing habit, that’s OK too. Remember, a marketing plan can have 10, 20, 30+ channels through which you can get your marketing message out. Networking events, print ads, web sites, radio spots, church bulletins etc. You’ll have lots of opportunities to get your message out there.
The benefit of the bagel marketing theory is that it is low cost/no cost
Mary mentions a karate class she attends (yikes!) which I am sure has either fellow students or maybe parents of fellow students there which could be leads.
It’s a soft sell, these options, but that’s value of bagel marketing – networking in a non-sales environment. People don’t have their guard up (well, you may if you’re on the mat at a karate class but that’s also not the time to ask “so what do you do for a living?” — thump!). With bagel marketing people are usually open to conversation.
Ah, there’s the rub, conversation. In a bagel shop or in a karate class or in a book club, people converse and they ask about you. And you answer their question when they ask “what do you do?” and it’s not a sales pitch. If what you answer to a “job inquiry” question is applicable to something or someone in their life, they ask you more (a sure sign of sales interest) which means they are selling themselves on youâ€¦how wonderful!
At networking events, it’s not the same thing. Friendly and unassuming as we all are, it’s a slightly stilted environmentâ€¦our Star Trek shields are at half power, Mr. Sulu, but certainly not “shields down”.
So pick whatever habit you like that will also put you in front of people who may be good prospects. And don’t sell. Don’t ever sell. Converse. If you start saying anything that sounds like a features and benefits presentation, step back, walk over to the nearest wall and bang your head against it one time. Then go back and resume the conversation. Don’t worry, you won’t remember your faux pas and all the other person you were speaking with will now only want to talk about why you just slammed your head into the wall.
Or they may just walk away from you quickly; I’ve found it’s a 50/50 proposition.
But always, always have your business cards with you. At karate class, on the beach, in church (“bless me Father for I have marketed”), everywhere you can “converse”.
Otherwise you will be caught with your professional pants down and that’s just as awful a feeling when it happens to you in front of a great business prospect as it is a mental image for the rest of us.
What fun it has been to be a blog subject. Thanks for the ping, Mary.
P.S. Read Mary’s wonderful response here!
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