copyright 2010 Arden Cagle/Click!

A lot of money is spent on mass mailings and advertising to bring products to the marketplace. It makes a lot of sense if you are selling toothpaste or some product that appeals to the masses. But what if you are selling creative services or some niche market product?

Go on a date!

Targeted marketing is the least expensive and most direct method of reaching your prospective customer and it is a lot like going on a date.

(1) Pick out someone you want to go out with. The field is plentiful. Potential dates are everywhere. Something is attracting you to this person. In business you are attracted to those you know need your services or products. Once they are on your radar you’re ready to begin your marketing process.

(2) Find out everything you can about them. Where do they like to hang out? What activities are they involved in? Where do they live? What is their favorite food? In business, research is vital in finding out as much as possible about the company you want to serve.

(3) Mingle at social events. Find out where your targeted date hangs out. What activities is he or she involved in? Do they go to theatrical shows or museums?  Involvement in professional organizations and cultural and civic activities fosters opportunities to “rub elbows” with business people you are wanting to court.

(4) Find someone to introduce you. When you have discovered all you can about a potential date, you may find you have one or more mutual friends. So it is in business. You may have friends or associates who can introduce you to a potential business client. Ask your business associates and friends who they know. Most likely someone knows a contact at this business. Facebook has really helped facilitate meeting potential business partners. I never cease to be amazed how many of my Facebook friends know people I know or want to know.

(5) Meet this special person. Until now you have been mainly “checking out” your potential date. If you have found someone to make an introduction, find a place to meet. If you are going it alone, attend an event or activity your target is attending. Many deals are made over a drink or in a casual setting. Meeting a potential business associate puts a face with a name. Knowing someone is better than knowing about someone.

(6) Have a cup of coffee. As important as being introduced or meeting is, finding a way to talk alone is key. Whether it is slipping into a quiet room to talk or setting a time to grab a cup of coffee, this is where relationships begin to develop. You are not talking business here; you are just getting acquainted. Ask questions to find out what this person is really like.

(7) Send  a note. After meeting your “date” send him or her a short note.   It should express your pleasure in meeting them and contain a hint of expectation for a later encounter. As a business person, you are networking in hopes of building a working relationship that will grow over time.

(8) Call for your first date. After some time has passed (so you don’t look too anxious), it’s time to call and ask for that first date. Make it simple: dinner and a movie, some cultural event or activity of mutual interest. Keep expectations low. On a business date, set up a meeting at your prospect’s business, then introduce your product or service. This is not the time to worry about closing; it is merely an opportunity to  communicate what you sell or what you do. As important as your presentation is , finding out your potential customer’s wants and needs is more important.

(9) Send flowers. As this relationship begins to grow, it is important to respond to each encounter with a note, flowers, e-mail or some form of response. In a sense, it is conversation coupling words with tokens of affection. Even if you do not visit this business person regularly, it is vital to keep in touch. Find ways to surprise by sending a special occasion card, forwarding blogs, e-mails or articles you think would be interesting, or just making a phone call once in a while to see how they’re doing.

(10) Nurture the relationship. Relationships either move forward or backwards. Dating is important. Don’t smother your date by being a pest. But if you are out of sight, you are out of mind. As a marketing professional, your success depends on staying before your clients. When you have a chance, court your customers. Take them to lunch. Get to know them better to understand their pressures and how you might help alleviate them. “Customers for life” is your ultimate goal. Invest your time and energy building a relationship that will continue to grow.

(11)  You have to kiss sometime! In business relationships, eventually you have to close the deal. You have to ask for the sell. You are not necessarily asking that your customer buy your product immediately, but you are asking for a commitment from the client to purchase from you when the need arises. A kiss is part of a  natural progression in a relationship from a casual acquaintance to an endearing friendship.

Start dating!

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