Saturday, April 22, 2017

"What Do We Say After That First Handshake Or Hello?"

Rather than investing a lot of time and money in advertising to generate interest in our businesses and get people to contact us, there is a better and more reliable way of meeting people interested in what we have to offer. It's personal contact.

Advertising is fine. It will generate some interest. It will generate some new business. There are several issues with advertising - particularly what we think of as traditional marketing or advertising which are print, electronic, and now even including online. Here are seven: (1) they can be pricey - not each one necessarily but collectively over time, (2) they provide inconsistent results - some campaigns or venues may never produce any contacts while others may be quite successful, (3) the quality of the results vary tremendously - some advertising sites will produce no leads at all, some will yield several interested people but few buyers, and others may produce only a few leads but a high percentage of them are purchasers, (4) it may take several of the same message (such as repeating an ad or sending a series of direct mail pieces) to find someone that will actually contact us, and (5) we never know who the interested person is until they contact us, (6) we don't know why someone doesn't respond to our messages - lack of interest in what we are offering or perhaps they never saw them, and (7) we have no idea of who all the people are that never responded so we can't follow up with them or select a message that might be more appealing to them.

Traditional advertising, including online and social media, is mostly passive in that the person seeing or hearing the message must identify a need they have with a solution we offer and then contact us. Until we hear from them (telephone, email, or in-person), we don't know that they saw our message or that they have a potential need for our products or services. 

The opposite of passive marketing is intentional marketing. It's where we meet people and know exactly who it is we have met and what their particular level of interest is in what we offer. There might not be any interest, there might be a high degree of interest, or they may know someone whom they can refer to us. This all comes from intentional marketing.

The first step in finding people that can use what we offer is to start talking with people every opportunity we have. We need to create our own opportunities also. If we find that we aren't around that many people very often, we need to go where people are - stores, parks, or events, for instance. Then again, we can meet people anyplace - walking the dog in the neighborhood, fishing, riding our bike, having something delivered to us or a repair done in our home, a garage or yard sale, and the list goes on.

So, we start talking to people. We start with saying hello to them. If they respond and we strike up a conversation - even just small talk - we likely will introduce ourselves to each other and shake hands. Small talk is just a friendly exchange with no particular purpose or agenda in mind - talking about the weather, last night's game, traffic, road construction, gas prices, and the like. Eventually, the conversation may get around to what we do, or they may mention something that leads us to believe we can be of service to them.

There are no rules or social customs on how long that initial conversation can last or what can be discussed - or that business can't be mentioned. It may come up, or it may not. It may not seem appropriate to introduce based on the general nature of the conversation. That's when a follow-up or subsequent conversation can be arranged. It may be non-specific (give me a call) or something that is agreed upon - a phone call, email, or a meeting for coffee.

What someone needs or their willingness to have us be a solution for them may take more than one conversation to determine. Nevertheless, we will know specifically who we talked with, how to reach them again (if we want to or they desire it), and the general likelihood of that turning into a business relationship (some will, but many won't).

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor, an NAHB Master Instructor, and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn