When people think of the term “marketing”, they’ll generally be visualising things like email campaigns, web banners, PPC campaigns, and SEO strategies and so on.
Outside of the domain of the internet, “marketing” is generally associated with things like billboards, and TV and newspaper adverts. Maybe with introductory packages mailed to businesses the old-fashioned way.
Of course, all of these examples leave out one of the most significant domains of marketing — that is, face-to-face, in-person marketing, that involves you handing out your business card, having a chat with a potential, client, investor, or associate, and making connections the old-fashioned way.
Before you head down to your first networking event and start the great meet and greet process, however, it’s a very good idea to pause and think about your strategy and approach for a minute beforehand.
Here are some tips on how to successfully market your business in person.
Make sure you’ve got your elevator pitch worked out, perfected, and memorised
“Elevator pitch” is a term that refers to the way you’d explain your business to a high-level potential investor, if you were caught in an elevator with them, and had only seconds to make your pitch.
Working out your elevator pitch means finding out how to explain what it is you do, in the most interesting and engaging way possible, while also making perfect sense to the person you’re speaking to, and simultaneously being concise.
If you go to a networking event, or attempt to engage in any other form of in-person marketing without having your elevator pitch sorted out, you run the very real risk of being asked what it is you do, and blurting out something undignified and unimpressive like: “Uh… well… I… uh… sort of do some stuff about making websites… I mean, you know, I build websites, but then I also…”
Needless to say, if you’re not able to even explain your job to people who you want to engage favourably with you, or who you hope to turn into clients, the odds are not likely to stack up in your favour.
So, before you go to any in-person meetup or event — and even before you speak to anyone in-depth on the phone, ideally — get your elevator pitch worked out. Sit down with a pen and paper and play out scenarios in your mind, and also figure out how you would react if you heard someone saying the words that you’re preparing.
Check that you’ve got all of the necessary supplies in advance, but try not to commit any harmful breaches of etiquette or convention
If you’re going to a particular networking event, you don’t want to start things off immediately by creating the impression that you’re the kind of person who is inept in their ability to handle the small things.
That means, at the very least, get your personal presentation in order, do up your tie properly, if you’re wearing one, and be sure to check that you’ve got all of the necessary supplies to hand in advance. If all of the attendees have been issued lanyards with identity cards for the event, don’t be the person who turns up without theirs, and has to have a messy and awkward exchange with the event organiser, in full view of everyone else.
Likewise, don’t forget to bring your own personal marketing materials — whether those be business cards, sample products, your laptop and powerpoint presentation, or anything else.
Exercise the scout’s motto here. Be prepared, and make sure that everything’s properly organised in advance.
Of course, you should also be careful not to commit any harmful breaches of etiquette or convention by trying to bring in things that are excessive, not allowed, or that will make you appear unaware of the correct mores and standards for the event.
Find ways you to make any materials you give out — business cards etc. — memorable and different
You can be quite sure that at a big, in-person networking or marketing event, there are going to be more than a few business cards doing the rounds.
In fact, a good few people are likely to commit the fatal in-person marketing mistake of just wandering around and aimlessly handing out business cards to as many people as possible. For the record, this is a sure way to put people off and get your business cards binned.
While you should, by all means, take some business cards and other similar marketing props with you, you should find ways to make them memorable and different.
Maybe give out “business card” fridge magnets instead? They’re a bit more unusual, and they’re also actually useful. If you’re lucky, someone important will use your “business card” to pin his shopping list to his fridge, and will remember to call you back, months down the line.