Looking For A Place To Speak?

speaking“Sir, are we in for another dismal recitation of what is wrong with the marketing world today?” I asked, hoping beyond hope that I could start a positive discussion today.

“Why Watson, you sound exhausted. Does debunking myths, and correcting half-truths bother you?” The Effective Detective asked in a way that I first thought was sarcastic, but quickly realized had a humorous tone to it. His tone gave me hope as I answered his question.

“Hardly sir, but I think that people would like to hear something hopeful or even helpful,” I said, hoping I had not misread his tone.

“Quite right, Watson! It just so happens that I have stumbled across just such a tool, and depending on your circumstances it can accessed and used for essentially no cost,” The Detective said, raising an eyebrow, and gauging my reaction.

I gave my best encouraging smile and said “Please continue, sir.”

“As you wish Watson. As you might have heard from multiple sources, another excellent way to generate leads, and to strengthen your credibility is speaking and to a lesser extent, writing. However, for some fields it is not as easy as it sounds to get speaking engagements. Since everyone has been told that they should speak, many local organizations are booked out 6 months or more, and some organizations only allow members to speak. And as I said for some fields or niches, it is hard to find your audience at some of the more generic local meetings, so you may willingly bear the waiting only to find your target market is nowhere to be seen at the meeting. But before you start griping that I am being negative again, let me give you some good news,” The Detective paused, and I, in the middle of taking a breath to chastise him for just such an offense, shut my mouth. The Detective grinned.

“As I was saying, Watson, there is a tool that almost everyone should have free access to that can greatly expand your speaking opportunities,” The Detective started up again. “The Gale publishing group has several references related to various organizations and events that they put on. I suspect a large number of public and possibly even college libraries have copies of the ‘Encyclopedia of Associations’ which is indexed both by geographic location – so you can locate what organizations are headquartered near you, as well as by keyword so that you can pick the ones that relate to your subject. The information included should get you started in researching what local chapters there might be, and how to reach them.

“Another similar resource is ‘Tradeshows Worldwide’ which lists many trade shows from the previous year so that you can contact the organizations about the current or even future years shows where you might be able to present. The Gale group also has the ‘National Directory of Non Profit Organizations’ which seems to be similar to the ‘Encyclopedia of Associations’. They even have a ‘Gale Directory of Publications and Media’ so you can find various outlets for your writing related to your field. Ask your local reference librarian for help finding these directories.

“So you see Watson, I am capable of providing resources as well as merely directing people towards or away from certain modes of operation,” The Detective stopped and looked at me expectantly.

“It is quite the miracle sir!” I exclaimed.

“Your virtuosity with sarcasm remains intact, Watson. Shall we get back to work?” The Detective sighed, while trying to hide a smile.

“Of course sir.”

The Big Lie About Networking and Referrals

Fingers Crossed

“It’s all a lie, Watson”

I was slightly taken aback by this rather abrupt greeting from The Effective Detective. However, I recovered quickly and decided to play the game.

“To what are you referring to sir? Surely not all of life?”

“Clever Watson. Your sarcasm is noted. No, of course not all of life, merely a marketing technique that is pushed by pretty much everyone – networking and referrals,” The Detective answered, shooting me a sidelong look.

“Are you saying that networking and referrals are not actually good marketing techniques sir?” I asked, a sense of panic starting to grow.

“Have I alarmed you Watson?” The Detective smiled, and I realized that once again I had fallen into one of his verbal traps.

“A bit sir,” admitting that yes, once again he had tricked me.

“You may relax now Watson. I won’t destroy all of your beliefs. However, there is still a lie to be discussed here. This lie is one of omission. While networking and referrals are excellent sources of business – there is an IF there that I will mention in a bit – they are rarely immediate sources of business. They are long-term marketing tactics that require thought and a strategy, not randomly going out to networking events and hoping to bring home business, or calling up long-lost acquaintances and expecting them to toss business our way,” The Detective barely missed a beat before continuing on.

“If you network within your market, and if your goal is to develop relationships that might be leveraged at a later date, you stand a good chance at getting business via networking. If you carefully nurture relationships with people you meet that have connections within your market, keep them appraised of what you are up to, and ‘give before you receive’, you have a good chance at getting business via referrals,” The Detective paused at this point and I could not resist interrupting.

“But sir, what you describe could take forever!”

The Detective paused and gave me a withering look. Usually he welcomed my interruptions, but I seemed to have jumped in too soon on this one.

“No Watson, not forever,” The Detective sighed. “Simply not today in general. One might always by chance come across someone ready to buy, or who will refer you without knowing you or your product well, but in general networking and referral techniques are not ways to jumpstart your business. Unless of course you have spent the past few years building up a network of fans. But in general that is not something you will hear networking and referral gurus discussing.  Unless you have been a lifetime networker, and your network corresponds nicely to your current target market, you will most likely not generate large amounts of business initially through networking and referrals.” The Detective paused again, and I saw from his look, that I was now expected to jump into the conversation.

“Is there any way to accelerate the process?” I asked.

“If you are willing to take a chance and being the first in the relationship to offer help, especially if you don’t know the person well,  the need to reciprocate your good deed might overcome caution. Remember though Watson, when one gives a referral, one is putting their reputation on the line. You are asking a lot of this person, so I would still not rely on an overwhelming response,” The Detective concluded.

“So one shouldn’t abandon the technique, merely incorporate it in with others, realizing you may not reap the harvest for a bit,” I ventured.

“You are turning poet in your old age Watson. Bravo! Shall we return to our work?” The Detective clapped his hands smiling.

“Of course, sir,” I replied, getting the last word in – a most unusual turn of events.


Take Advantage Of A Networking Fail

Smiling friendly business man. Isolated over white.“Sir, may I relate a story for your consideration, because frankly it baffles me,” I said, taking the initiative to start this latest conversation between me and The Effective Detective.

“Of course, Watson, relate away,” he returned, smiling in an actually friendly way, versus the smile I associated with the hammer coming down on a point he was making.

“I attended a meeting of a group, and the purpose of this meeting was actually recruitment for the group. There were a goodly number of visitors, which made it a worthwhile function in terms of meeting new people, but I was a little shocked by one thing,” I paused for a second, and The Detective jumped in.

“I think I know where this is going, but I’ll be cautious,” The Detective’s smile grew bigger, “so please carry on Watson,”

“None of the members or leaders of this group went out of their way to welcome any of the guests, or engage them! They were nice enough if you yourself stepped up and introduced yourself, but many of them seemed more intent on engaging other members than the guests. This struck me as odd, since the whole purpose of the meeting was to recruit new members, wouldn’t it make sense to engage as many of the guests as possible?” I ended with the question, hoping The Detective would again, jump in.

Obliging me, The Detective took a breath and started to answer, “It would make sense Watson, and it would have helped their cause immensely, but unfortunately you are dealing with humans, and this kind of thing happens all too often. Especially when you have a group hosting guests. The members of the group are of course uncomfortable meeting new people, as are most of the guests, but they have an advantage over their guests. They already know a large percentage of the group. The natural social tendency is to associate with those you know. The guests have no choice, they have volunteered to step into a group where they may not know too many people, so they either retreat to a wall somewhere, or they bravely extend their hand and start engaging.”

“But sir, if the purpose is to build membership…” I floundered a bit, not sure I had made my point.

“Yes, yes Watson, you are absolutely correct. However, assuming this is a volunteer organization, no one is going to ‘lose their job’ for not being forward,” The Detective helpfully answered my partial question. “However, it is hard to go against human nature. The guests are outsiders, I’m sure if they join the organization they will be brought into the fold, but at a meeting like you describe, they are on their turf and want to be comfortable.”

“But sir,” I answered, a thought forming, “wouldn’t the people who went out of their comfort zone and introduced themselves to the guests be way ahead of the game? They would be perceived as the leaders in the group. In terms of business they would be the ones starting strong know, like, and trust relationships whether the person they engaged joined or not.”

“Watson, I see our discussions are having a beneficial effect on you. That was a brilliant observation! Keep that in mind next time a group you are a part of has a recruitment meeting,” The Detective exclaimed. “Shall we continue on with other issues?”

“Lets!” I agreed.

The One In A Million Chance

One in a MillionThings had been quiet around The Effective Detective in the last week. I was hoping that things were going to stay relatively quiet for this week’s discussion, whatever that might be. The Detective seemed to rouse himself as I came into the room.

“Watson, how very nice to see you today,” The Detective started. “Do you know what this is?” he asked, holding up a rectangular piece of thick paper.

“I do believe it is a lottery ticket, sir,” I replied, and then out of some misplaced sense of possibility, I exclaimed, “You didn’t actually win sir?! Has lady luck smiled down upon you and granted us riches?”

The Detective heartily laughed before replying, “Heaven’s sakes man! Do you know what the odds are of winning this ridiculous game of chance? I merely needed you to identify it to start today’s discussion, not jump to conclusions regarding my possession of said ticket.”

“Seems a simple lesson, sir, don’t gamble, it is a waste of time,” I sighed dejectedly.

“That is where you are wrong Watson! All things in life are gambles. There is a chance for success and a chance for failure. Where we go astray is simple – we look only at the level of effort and risk against the chance that we could win, ignoring the overwhelming odds of actually doing so.”

The Detective paused briefly, and I took this chance to interject, thinking our conversation had somehow gone off the rails, if indeed it had ever been on the track at all. “But sir, what in the world does this have to do with business and marketing?” The Detective gave me that half-smile, and I realized that once again, I had fallen into one of his carefully laid traps.

“A shame Watson, your powers of logic and observation had been showing great signs of improvement. The relationship is simple. Why is it that you think so many entrepreneurs have invested so much time and energy in social media and Internet Marketing of physical products? Social Media especially carries little risk in terms of investment. We ask a bunch of people to like our page, or follow our tweets, or help make your latest video viral and then sit back and wait. You know that over a billion people are on Facebook, and you believe even though there is little chance very many will see your posts, ‘if’ they do, the payoff will be fantastic! Of course the payback only comes to a lucky few that were in the right place at the right time,” a second pause, and I thought I would see if I could provoke a reaction.

“So it is hopeless then. We should all just pack up and give up on business since only the lucky ones will win!” I answered injecting what I hoped was just the right amount of sarcasm.

“That would be silly and rather stupid Watson. You are missing the point. I said all things in life are gambles. The key is to take the occasional no risk, big return gamble – like buying a lottery ticket or posting on social media, but to be far more consistent with the gambles that carry a little more or sometimes a lot more risk – posting consistently on your blog and sending it out to your list – which requires time and effort – along with the occasional offer leveraging the trust built up. Creating local events – which will often cost you something for at least the venue, and time and effort to market – that might bring in a few thousand dollars, but builds up both possible client and referral relationships. Are any of these guaranteed to generate that big score? Of course not, but they are far more likely to generate something! Too often we look for the risk free score. The result is almost always disappointment.” The Detective looked at me expectantly, his point now made.

“Not hopeless, just not risk or effort free,” I said after a minute of reflection.

“Well summarized Watson! Now shall we get back to our slightly risky work requiring effort?” The Detective answered, closing discussion for another day.

The Power of Your List

Composite image of blonde businesswoman standing with hands on hipsI noticed that The Effective Detective looked particularly contemplative, and more out of curiosity than concern, I asked about it. “Sir, you look very thoughtful. Is there a particular insight you are considering?”

“Eh? Oh Watson, sorry. A particular insight yes, but interestingly it is coming from a discussion I had today that taken at face value, could have been considered quite depressing. A friend and colleague was feeling rather cynical today. The trajectory of their business life was not quite what they had hoped for. In particular they have found themselves rebuilding once again,” The Detective began.

“That does sound rather depressing sir,” I agreed.

“Yet from that dreary beginning came a rather illuminating insight Watson. You see, they had started reaching out to connections, and even at this time of the year, when most people are not thinking much about business, had arranged some meetings to discuss some new opportunities,” The Detective continued.

“During the holiday season and so close to the end of the year sir? That is quite surprising,” I interjected.

“Quite so Watson, but the true insight comes from the phrase reaching out to connections. There is an old quote attributed to Andrew Carnegie, I am not sure of the exact wording but the basic idea is that even if everything is taken from you, if you still have a list of contacts, you can rebuild it all. My colleague down in the dumps as they might be, is leveraging their contacts to rebuild. How easy it is for us to forget the power of our lists, be it a contact list build through years of networking, to a list built through patiently speaking to people, and advertising. If you nurture that list, what you can create from it, no matter what has happened in the past can be astounding. The two keys of course are building and nurturing. It does one no good to sit and wait for people to realize our genius. We must go out and proclaim it to the world, and build a tribe. But then we must nurture that tribe, feed it if you will. Those who are willing to do that, reap amazing rewards,” The Detective concluded.

“Sir, I must admit, I have nothing to add to that,” I replied, surprising the Detective and myself for admitting it.

“Well then Watson, let us pour ourselves drinks, and salute the holiday season, and in particular the new year!” The Detective exclaimed as he smiled at me.

“Happy New Year sir!”

A Bad Copy

Bad copy or originalThe Effective Detective seemed to be in a particular foul mood this day. As I entered his study I could see him hunched over the keyboard cursing softly to himself as he deleted several email messages.

“Is there a problem, sir?” I asked gently.

“What? Oh hello Watson. Nothing serious, just my daily frustration with a variety of marketers that I respect, doing their usual pitches. I glance at each one to gain insight into their sales letter techniques, but I have decided I need to keep my email box a little cleaner so I now have to decide whether to delete them or not,” The Detective replied, before turning back to his task.

I watched him for a minute or two, noticing the intense look on his face never wavered. Suddenly he smiled for a brief moment as he opened another email, then his face darkened, he clicked on a link within the email, again on the web page he was sent to, then the intense look returned as he went back to more emails. Curious about the change, I interrupted him.

“Sir, you looked so focused, then one of those messages elicited a different reaction. May I inquire as to the content of said message?”

The Detective looked up, seemed to gather his thoughts, then replied.

“Quite so Watson, your powers of observation improve with each passing day.” Not sure if he was being gracious or sarcastic, I did not respond. “The message that you correctly noted caused a different reaction was from a relatively new marketer, whose list I had recently joined. I had high hopes that the lad would be providing some refreshing new insights, but alas, it was merely a pitch… again.”

“I noticed you clicked on a link in the email sir. Surely there must have been something that caught your eye,” I observed.

“That was the unsubscribe link Watson. If the lad chooses to bombard me with solicitations rather than his thoughts, I am better off without his emails,” The Detective explained.

“I’m confused sir, I saw you delete the messages of several of the major lights in the industry, but it was only a delete, not an unsubscribe. How are they different?” I exclaimed.

“Ahh Watson, I hold all of those major lights, as you put it, in high esteem. I can tolerate their sales tactics for a much greater time simply because they have proven themselves to me. There may be new products at some time that do spark my interest. I would like to able to continue to get notices of such products or programs. So I remain on their lists. However, so you don’t need to ask the question, the person I unsubscribed from did not prove themselves to me. They merely assumed since I had expressed enough interest to join their list, I would tolerate their incessant advertising. They assumed incorrectly.”

“I sense a moral approaching,” I said with a smile.

“Perceptive again Watson. Until you have gained someone’s trust and belief in you, don’t go sending steady streams of offers at them. A person needs to believe in you. They want to believe in you. They want to trust you. If you immediately begin pounding them with requests to buy something without giving them some indication that you understand their issues, and their pains, you violate that fragile trust and never give them an opportunity to believe in you. You must nurture before you sell,” The Detective concluded.

“Eloquently put sir,” I said as the Detective turned back to his email review with a slightly dismissive wave of his hand.

The Mystery of The Incomplete Explanation Part 2

“Where were we Watson,” started The Detective.

“I believe you were just going to start a further explanation of point two from a previous discussion, sir. Lost Customers to be precise.” I quickly replied.

“Quite Right. Actually, this one in a way, is self-explanatory. It astounds that more business people don’t see it.

“You see Watson, in the haste to get new customers, because everyone knows they are the life-blood of a business, business people often forget they already have a source of said ‘life-blood’: people who have already bought from them. Unfortunately, too often they either take them for granted – assuming that because they were so impressed with the service and/or product they received, they will come running back when they need something additional, or they don’t think of them at all, acting as if all customers are new customers. Of course, the result is the customer does not think of them either.

“A truly ‘lost’ customer must be approached cautiously. After all, there has probably been no real communication for some time. But you must find a way to reestablish contact. Direct mail, email, the method may depend on the data you have. Here is where caution comes in. Suddenly pummeling them with reminders that you are still in business and why the heck have they not visited you, or the same old flyers you send out would be counter productive. These are people who have done business with you before. They want to – and may already,  think of themselves as special, as having done you the kindness of having done business with you – no matter that you may feel you saved their business, made them look good to their client or boss, or simply given them a great deal! Your perception is irrelevant.

There must be some kind of offer to entice these lost souls. It needn’t be anything large, just something of value. After all, they were your customer once, if you provided a quality product and good service, they probably would most likely welcome the contact; a much easier sale I would say. In all probability it wasn’t that they did not want to do business any longer, but, like for most of us, life simply got in the way, and since the business did nothing to reestablish the relationship, it slipped away like an old High School friend,” finished The Detective with a flourish.

“How poetic!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, well, sometimes it is easy to get carried away Watson, let us not dwell on that,” replied The Detective sheepishly.

“Of course, sir. Shall we take a break before going into another mystery?” I asked, giving him an opportunity to slip away from the subject.

“Excellent idea, Watson, Excellent idea!”



what happened to networking?