May 01, 2012
This blog is not about networking events or the internet.
By Maureen McCabe
Big Al’s Catering & Décor provides catering, party décor, and gift baskets. Big Al is a renown chef and has been a client since 2009. He is the best cheerleader that I’ve ever met. He continuously promotes himself and others, including me. This blog is a synthesis of his teachings.
1. Attract customers at lunch and dinner
Are eating and socializing your only priorities when dining out? Have you ever introduced yourself and what you do – to the server or person sitting at the next table?
Whenever Big Al and I are out for lunch he introduces himself and offers a business card where appropriate. I have to admit when he first started doing this I was very embarrassed – after all, who talks to the other diners? It works well with his affable personality. I have seen him sell dozens of gift baskets and book the odd catering job – on the spot!
TIP 1: Do what works for you. Perhaps you can start with a small step such as always booking a reservation regardless of the day or time – whether they are busy or not. Make the reservation in your business name whether it’s a personal or business meal. Give your business card to the hostess upon your arrival. Make it a habit to offer your business card when you pay the bill in cash or with a credit card. Consistently promote your business to attract new customers.
2. Attract customers from your Dentist, Doctor, Hair stylist, and more…
For many people going to see the doctor or chiropractor isn’t exactly fun. Based on Big Al’s advice I share my activities and current projects. For example, my chiropractor Dr. Selwyn Chin owns Active Health Solutions and is a great client. At every visit, I provide a marketing idea – perhaps it’s an SEO tip or how he could generate more products sales in the reception area.
Selwyn surprised me when he said he shares my tips and promotes me. I got my first referral from him – Allen Fraser, MSW. Now I eagerly look forward to every appointment – it’s fun to get referrals!
TIP 2: Identify and update people who you see on a regular basis – maybe it’s your hair stylist or bank teller. They know many people and because you are positive they will remember you and share your stories.
TIP 3: When you’re asked what you do or to complete a form (perhaps for the dentist) always use a creative job title to stimulate conversation. Mine is – Passionate Marketer. People always ask what that is – and I smile and give my two-minute elevator speech.
3. Hobbies and interests
As a pianist, composition and music history teacher with four students ages 6-82, I enjoy classical music. In March, my boyfriend and I attended the Great Piano Series in Aurora, Ontario. The master of ceremonies announced that a photographer from the newspaper would be taking pictures. We just happened to immediately walk up to her and be the first photographed.
TIP 4: If anyone takes your photo – or – you are asked or volunteer to provide a quote for any media outlet, please request that they include your business name and website. Ideally, they will publish both. In my case I chose the website name over my company name. My objective was a backlink to my site to improve organic search.
TIP 5: When you are meeting with a journalist, please provide a business card – or – print clearly your name in their old fashioned paper notebook. If they stored it on a blackberry offer to proofread since ‘you’ may have stated it incorrectly. (How to maximize your relationship with the media will be a future blog topic.)
At the next piano concert I asked other patrons if they had seen the April edition which I conveniently had in my hands and I graciously pointed out my picture. The paper was a great segue (e.g. excuse) to mention that I’m in marketing. I also commended the director of the centre on the excellent media coverage and of course, my photo caption. To read the article and view the photo caption please click here.
4. Attract customers by chatting with family, friends and neighbours
For many people it’s tough to ask for a business introduction or a sales lead. As you now know, I’m the passionate marketer and I love to learn and ask questions about people’s businesses. I usually have a few ideas to share on how they could attract more customers.
Over Easter dinner I had a fascinating 45-minute conversation with Aleksandar, a ’20-something’ year old entrepreneur who had sold his first deal through a daily deal site. His strategy was to continue using them as his source of customers. I suggested he read my blog – Groupon does not itself create automatic long-term customers. These hot deal sites should be used for acquisition purposes. They are not a highly profitable channel – they charge your business 50% of the deal price!
Aleksandar’s key take-away: Develop and execute a marketing plan to get repeated sales.
Once he has developed his repeat sales strategy based on our conversation, I will ask him to create a review on my Google Business page.
An Easter dinner conversation of – hello, nice to meet you, what do you do for a living – may yield unexpectedly a client or two.
TIP 6: If you want an avalanche of referrals and new customers – ask for testimonials. It’s easier than requesting an introduction to someone to sell your ‘wares’. I understand that it’s hard for many of you. If you are not comfortable to ask for one face-to-face perhaps the phone or email is a better option. You can tell them that Maureen suggested that you ask for the testimonial; she said it will help you grow your business.
Please use the right lingo when asking for a testimonial – it’s a recommendation on LinkedIn, ‘Like’ on Facebook, reviews on Google Business and yelp, or post a comment on your blog.
5. Doing for others
Literally everyone likes to give back to the community and it gives you a source of accomplishment and yes, gratitude that you can help others. Giving back is fun.
Whether you’re a volunteer in an organization with a specific commitment or task, participant in the annual bike-a-thon or yard sale for a charity, you help with whatever and whenever you can. To quote my mom – you are ‘doing good.’ There are small things you likely do without realizing it. Perhaps it’s giving an encouraging word or just a quick hi and warm smile to the grocery stock boy (okay maybe there are girls who do this work). Maybe it’s helping someone when they least expect it.
Making someone else’s day is one of the biggest thrills in the world. Their smile is the greatest thank you – although some would say that if you are doing good work – it should go unnoticed. To quote my dear mom again, what goes around comes around. To paraphrase her – you don’t know how, when or where you will get your next sales lead, referral, or testimonial – always be nice to everyone.
Like Big Al, I am an outgoing person. I’m always upbeat and tell people about my new and existing clients, their amazing products or services, and my latest projects. My social friends, family, service providers, other volunteer friends, and clients regularly ask about my business. I no longer have to be the initiator of the great news.
Would you please give me your candid feedback about this blog? I would be grateful if you would post a comment on my blog or send me an email. I will respond to it within one business day. Perhaps you would like to tweet this blog or share it with a friend. Thank you for your kindness.
If you would like to schedule a free no-obligation marketing consultation, please connect with me today. Let’s get started now to grow your business.
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