What new ways of marketing are out there?
This month’s article will cover 3 less traditional ways to market your business. They are not included in the 6 main tactics identified by past marketing thought leaders. They are Networking, Events and Exhibitions.
Networking – this is a gathering of like minded business people looking to make new contacts, find new suppliers, to promote their business and to get more business. Networking can be done online or face to face. Networking happens all the time. Every time you sell yourself and your company, you are effectively networking. It’s about spreading the word.
Events – events covers a multitude of sins. Events can be organised by you, or attended by you. They can be golf days, speaker events, dinners, luncheons, workshops, courses etc.
Exhibitions – this is a gathering of companies who share an interest in a particular topic or market sector. It is a chance for companies to have a stand and promote themselves to potential customers, suppliers and distributors. These can be half day events or 3 days events. Presentations and mini workshops can often take place during exhibitions.
Why opt for these ways?
Networking, whether it be in person to person sense at events or online via social sites such as Twitter, is an ever growing way to find new customers, keep current customers updated and to raise awareness for your business and its products and services. Personal recommendations and word of mouth are one, if not, the biggest way people find and do business these days. It’s a very effective and powerful marketing tool. If someone is prepared to speak or write good things about you, then this speaks volumes to potential customers.
There are many many networking groups out there. There are some that focus on specific market sectors and industries, but in general, these groups attract all industries.
Some suggestions for networking are:
The Athena Network – http://www.theathenanetwork.com/welcome.htm
Chamber of Commerce – http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/find-your-local-chambers
FSB – http://www.fsb.org.uk/default.aspx?loc=general&id=0
BNI – http://www.bni-europe.com/uk/
BRX – http://www.brxnet.co.uk/
WIBN – http://www.wibn.co.uk/
Refer On – http://refer-on.com/
HWCC – http://www.hwconnections.com/
Ladies who Latte – http://www.ladieswholatte.rsitez.com/
And finally our very own online networking group – Business Women’s Cafe Forum
If you are looking for an exhibition in your area of industry, try this site – http://www.exhibitions.co.uk/ or try your local business link for specific area events. Sign up for their newsletters to be kept up to date.
Tips for networking
So, you have been to an event and handed out your business card to some interesting and potentially lucrative contacts, what next?
Do I follow up immediately and what do I say?
Do I add the details to my database?
Do I file the card until I need it?
Filing the card away until you need it is an option, but not a very proactive option. The aim of networking is to make new contacts. These contacts may be potential customers, or they may also be the middleman between you and a potential customer, or they may be a potential employer. There might not be an immediate connection or an immediate opportunity to work together, which is all the more reason to maintain contact and to keep yourself in the forefront of your contact’s mind. Networking is often about playing the long game, and about creating good karma.
By adding the contact to your database or address book, you will remember or automatically include the contact in future email, letter or telephone based campaigns. Remember to note on your database where you met them. This will help you analyse all your sources and which ones generate the most number of leads and revenue.
The best option is to follow up by email, letter or phone within a day or two of the event or meeting.
Will this be seen as pushy? No. Attendees of networking events are there for the same reason as you. They want to meet like-minded business people and to find new customers.
When you do make contact, say something along the lines of it was good to meet with you yesterday and I think there are some good opportunities for us to work together in the future. Also ask their permission to include them in any future marketing campaigns you may run. By doing this, you have instantly reminded them of meeting you, you have appeared organised, polite and professional and you will have got their permission to keep their details and liase with them in the future to hopefully turn them into a lead and then eventually a customer!
A final thought, a cardinal sin of networking is to make a promise to follow up to a contact with information, a lead, or just to say hello and then to not do this – a major faux-pas!
A final thought…
It wouldn’t be right to discuss new ways to market to a target audience, without thinking about Social Media. Consider online networking. Get yourself and your business onto Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and start educating, building relationships and influencing your customers and potential customers!