The actual markets may have changed, but the essence of marketing is the same – bring the produce, the wares and the goods to the people at a given time and place.
Regardless of the type of business you are in, you must market your services. It simply comes down to this – if people don’t know you are in business, you are not going to get any business.
Retailers have storefronts. If the store looks un-inviting or people are greeted with a cold reception, you might as well cut your losses and go back from whence you came.
There is an “old Chinese’ proverb, usually accredited to Confucius, but states, “Man with no smile should not open shop.” Regardless of whether this is an old Chinese proverb or not is immaterial – there is a wealth of wisdom in these words.
If on the other hand, you operate from an office or even from home, you don’t have that storefront exposure in a high traffic area. But if you do work from home or from an office somewhere, you are probably not looking for shoppers who are eager to unburden themselves of having too much money. Instead, you are probably looking for a specialised clientele. In this case, you have to advertise, and you have to advertise where potential clients are looking. This is called targeted marketing. For example, if you sell mousetraps, there’s probably not much point in promoting your mousetraps in a magazine focused on teenage fashion.
Depending upon your business, a popular form of targeted marketing is trade shows. If this suits your needs – rent a booth at a trade show. Just make sure you attend the right shows.
How many such shows have you attended only to see a booth that is totally out of place? What I’m saying is, if you sell high-performance car parts, don’t waste your time at a Camera Show.
Depending up your product, the best strategy at a trade show is to actually sell products directly from your booth. This is a great opportunity. When people attend trade shows, they specifically want to see what you have to offer. Remember this – for people to attend a show, they first had paid an admission fee, which means they now want to get their money’s worth.
How do they do this?
There are 3 ways –
- They spend more money. Your job at a trade show is to encourage people to spend their money with you. People always want to come away from a trade show with something in hand.
- They want to learn. You need to educate them. Here’s the trick, unless they ask specifically about your product, your education MUST be unbiased. Never tell them how your product is better than everyone else’s, and NEVER knock the competition.
- They want to be entertained. You don’t have to have a ‘song and dance’ routine. You just need to make them feel good in such a manner that they will remember you for all the right reasons.
If you offer an intangible service, obviously you can’t sell your service directly. In this case, you must encourage people to give you as much information as you can get. A common tactic used to gather information is to offer a prize to a ‘lucky winner’ after the show.
Here’s the key to successfully marketing your service(s) at a tradeshow – you MUST follow up on those leads! If you don’t, you just wasted your time.
As a last resort, you could hand out information to encourage people who attended the show to get in contact with you after the show. However, most of this information, whether, it’s discount coupons or brochures, or whatever – it will be thrown away – but free gifts engraved with your name and phone are rarely thrown away.
Lastly, if trade shows are not your thing, an alternative would be to join a business association such as a local Chamber of Commerce. If you sell cars parts – join car clubs. If you sell wool, start a knitting club. The options are endless – all you need is a little bit of imagination, followed by some effort.
Just as an added note – some people may have had better experiences – but networking groups do not work for me. I’ve found that everyone wants to sell to other members.
Regardless of which marketing strategy you pursue, if you are not the type of person who socialises well, you are not going to attract much business. In this case, you seriously need to find someone to represent you, such as a marketing agent.
There is always a way to succeed – work on your strengths – acknowledge your weaknesses.