Is your marketing enough?

Lately, I have experienced a paradoxical combination of both joy and sorrow, while preparing to move an elderly family member into a personal care home. This is a process rife with stories for virtually everyone in the community who has gone through it–both seniors and their families.

Just the other day, a colleague recommended a particular mover to help us move a very heavy chair, customized for use by seniors—a computerized recliner that we’ve often joked can nearly launch its inhabitant to the moon!

The colleague who made the referral consulted her contacts to share the name of a good mover and I am extremely grateful to her for that sharing. (A gift of chocolate will ensue!)

The only trouble was that in the process of the referral, my colleague brewed up much anxiety over how I should call the potential mover and what I should say, when I did. With the best of intentions, she sent me a telephone script and offered to coach me through it. When I tested out the idea, I quickly became a Nervous Nelly.

This exchange reminds me of what marketers Michael Katz and Terry O’Reilly have written, about how nervous marketing can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Marketing that exaggerates the risk inherent in an exchange of service for pay undermines decisive, well-reasoned and confident action; such marketing subverts healthy entrepreneurial exchange. This is true whether one gets a haircut or hires a landscaper to mow (regularly) a 10-acre plot of land.

When I actually called the mover, a few minutes later, I spoke with a man who was nonchalant, happy to oblige and who even offered flexibility in terms of dates and times—something my  colleague had not expected. Giving a bit less than one month’s notice to hire for this small contract was, the mover assured me, “more than enough.”

I’m confident that he will do an excellent job. And of course, I will have purchased insurance to cover any damage, if he doesn’t. My exchange with the mover reminds me that the best kind of marketing is based on a fair entrepreneurial exchange, one that keeps moving (pardon the bad pun!) the trade of payment for services professionally rendered.

It seems to me that this story is really about uncertainty. Arresting a sales process by over-thinking and trying to control the conversation (beforehand) only breeds anxiety and potential mistrust. Nervous Nellyism makes this exchange feel more risky than it needs to.

The valued colleague who offered the referral (and whom I have profusely thanked; bless her) messaged me later to express worry that the chair may not be moved, damage-free. I responded by saying, “Friend, our marketing here is enough. There is sufficient ground for trust and that we must carry that forward.”

And now it’s your turn. Have you participated in nervous marketing? How did the situation play out? When did you realize your marketing was enough?
Please share your experience; I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Want your business to stand out? Personality branding offers one way (with Ed Gandia and Danielle Hughes)

In earlier postings, I have referred to some episodes of the “High Income Writing” podcast of American copywriter, Ed Gandia. Gandia is usually insightful and often gathers intriguing solo professionals to the “microphone.”

Recently, Ed interviewed New York-based branding and copywriting consultant, Danielle Hughes, about how to increase our success as creative professionals by developing our own “personality brand.” Ed prefaced the interview by observing how reluctant self-employed creatives are “to let our personalities shine.” We either don’t know how to do that, or we fear that by doing that we’ll “alienate potential clients.” Continue reading “Want your business to stand out? Personality branding offers one way (with Ed Gandia and Danielle Hughes)”

On simplifying your elevator pitch . . . for success (with a nod to Michael Katz)

At a small, socially distant networking event recently, I encountered two entrepreneurs, with two different entrepreneurial approaches, to offering the perennial “elevator pitch.”

Both entrepreneurs knew the importance of word-of-mouth marketing and were doing their best to introduce themselves clearly.

One of them, a financial planner, kept his “elevator pitch” to one sentence. But it was a sentence with at least three clauses (i.e. naming the major services he provides and for whom). The other person, a professional coach, used a simpler, single clause description of how she works to increase her clients’ sales. Continue reading “On simplifying your elevator pitch . . . for success (with a nod to Michael Katz)”

Want your stories to succeed? Build them on ideas that “stick,” say Chip and Dan Health

I often blog on issues pertaining to stories and storytelling. But thus far, we haven’t discussed much about what constitutes a good (or compelling) story.

Thirteen years ago, Chip Heath (a professor of organizational behaviour at Stanford University) and his brother, Dan Heath (a senior fellow in social entrepreneurship at Duke University), combined their research interests and wrote Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck (London: Penguin/Arrow, 2007).

The book, which has fascinated entrepreneurs, authors from multiple fields, researchers and academics alike, asserts one overarching tenet: Thinking, writing and other story-based endeavours that provide “sticky ideas” (i.e. ideas that succeed by becoming popular and influential in contemporary culture) all exhibit the following six principles (“SUCCES”):  Continue reading “Want your stories to succeed? Build them on ideas that “stick,” say Chip and Dan Health”

“It takes courage not to know”: How do you lead entrepreneurially or in business?

Some years ago, I rented office space in a large building, where there was an unusual building manager, an individual unlike any other in that role whom I’d ever met. We’ll say her name was “Maud” (not her real name) and although she had moved here from sunnier climes, she was (in honest characterization) of European descent, middle age and spoke with what most would call a middle-class accent.

Continue reading ““It takes courage not to know”: How do you lead entrepreneurially or in business?”