There’s something that’s often overlooked in marketing that my pal Mark Silver brought to my attention in a conversation we had a while back. He also wrote about it on his blog here. This is something that is very much at the heart of the notion I’ve been working with a lot lately on ‘becoming a hub‘.
Think of this: when you go to a craft fair – can you feel that little bit of hesitance in walking directly up to a booth. Or to engaging with the person sitting behind it?
Because if you make eye contact or start talking then you might get trapped. You might feel obligated to buy something that you really don’t want to buy.
When you meet a new animal, some are friendly and run right up – but others run away if you approach them too directly. You need to sort of ‘let them approach you’.
You go to a networking meeting and someone is super aggressively handing out business cards and trying to set a meeting with you. You recoil inwardly (even if you smile politely outwardly).
All of these things have to do with safety.
The question is: how safe is your business to approach?
Imagine walking up to one booth at a craft fair where the person is sitting behind the counter looking needy and desperate. You can feel them hoping you’ll approach. Now, imagine another booth where the person behind it is actively engaged in a conversation with someone about the products. They’re smiling and warm. They’re educating the person. My friend Joey Hundert used to work a hemp products stand at the farmer’s market in Edmonton and he would have CROWDS surrounding the booth as he educated people about the myriad benefits of hemp. Amazing to watch.
We often think of marketing like a searchlight. Going out after people. Approaching them.
What we give very little time to is the lighthouse metaphor. Where we draw people in.
Stated another way: are YOU safe to approach?
Consider this: in a day and age where people have a ridiculous amount of choice in who they hire or buy from . . . it’s a buyer’s market. They are choosing you (and certainly you can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ once they do). But in the modern world, the customer tends to find us rather than us finding them (and yes – we can be very active in making sure we’re in the right places to be found).
But THEY are in charge. THEY choose the pace they want to get to know you at. And do you have ways that can help them get to know you? Are there ways they can ‘try you out’ for free? There are a lot of ways to do this. Writing a blog can help. Online video can help. Workshops, talks or presentations can help. Writing articles. Using social media as a way to build a good vibe about yourself by posting cool, relevant, feel good things.
Andrea Lee has a lot to say about this when she speaks of pink spoons. The basic notion is that when you go to an ice cream store they don’t try to sell you an ice cream cake right away. Not even a gallon. Not even the cone. They let you try samples of as much as you want (within reason) from those tiny little pink spoons. The free sample. Those pink spoons sell a lot of ice cream.
Ask yourself: how could I make it safer for customers to approach me?
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