Making Connections, Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, online advertising, Passion, sales

The Perks of Networking

While I’ve done contract marketing and market research work in the past — during times when I was looking for a permanent position in my field — it’s been about six months now that I’ve devoted my energies full-time to making consulting work my permanent employment.

Trying to get a consulting practice started is not for the weak of heart, particularly a marketing consulting practice.  Part of the reason for this is many organizations I approach about the expertise I can offer already have a marketing agency or consultant in place.  If they are an organization that’s been around for any length of time, marketing is essential to their well-being and it’s likely they’ve already solicited outside help to optimize marketing efforts. In fact, many have long-term contracts in place with marketing agencies that can’t be easily severed.  And, I’m also finding the newer, start-up businesses are difficult to identify and many use family members or friends to help them out on a pro bono or low-rate basis while in start-up mode.

Bottom line of all the above is that, in order for me, or any business offering consulting or other services to make a successful go at it, we have to be skilled at networking. It’s imperative that we use our connections or the connections of our connections to get our feet in the door.  Being more of a strategic behind-the-scenes person, that’s a challenge for me, but I’m rising to the occasion and I’m glad my business is causing me to grow this skill for a couple of reasons.

First, as a marketeer, even if I didn’t need to be out there trying to make sales and there was a sales team in place whose work I supported with marketing materials and activities, it’s very beneficial to understand the challenges, roadblocks, questions, concerns, etc. that a sales team faces on a daily basis. Secondly, the need to network is causing me to reconnect with individuals with whom I worked closely and had strong friendships with at different points in my career.

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I’ve been working in the Boston area now for about thirty years.  Thirty years.  After studying in France my senior year and graduating from UCONN with a French degree, I attended the Katherine Gibbs’ three-month entree program. I always refer to it as a program that gave liberal arts majors the office skills they needed to get jobs. I will say attending the program served me well. After completing the program, I was able to obtain temporary office work at great organizations like Stone & Webster and Dana Farber, and soon landed permanent jobs at BayBank Harvard Trust and Fidelity Investments. After obtaining my M.B.A., mostly at night, I’ve been employed at Market Facts, Berklee College of Music, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA, Bay State Federal Bank, Best Doctors, Network Health, and BMC HealthNet Plan.

I list all of the above because it’s a good reminder that I’ve worked a lot of great places and made a lot of strong friendships and working relationships throughout my career — of which I should never lose sight.  I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people (since I’m a transplant from CT to MA, many of my closest friends are former co-workers). The need to network has caused me to reconnect with some of the many individuals with whom I haven’t stayed as closely in touch, but with whom I really enjoyed working. It’s been so much fun learning what former colleagues are up to, both professionally and personally.  So, I’m grateful that networking has prompted me to “catch up” with these people.  There’s nothing like tight schedules, heavy workloads, and what seem like impossible challenges for forming strong bonds.  I’m really enjoying revisiting those bonds. If you aren’t already doing so, I encourage you to reach out to former co-workers. I know you’ll benefit in a variety of ways from the experience.

brand promise, marketing consultant, Passion, sales, Target Marketing, traditional marketing

Haagen Dazs — Target Marketing at Its Best

I loved it the first time I saw it and I don’t get tired of it. Despite all the confrontation in Haagen Dazs’ commercial for its Stracciatella gelato, I doubt there’s a woman out there who doesn’t find herself entranced by the extreme passion and romance played out in this commercial. It makes you think of the intense love of Romeo and Juliet, in Dr. Zhivago, or a Bryan Adams’ song, and that combined with the opportunity to be transported to Italy for a few minutes via the language and physical appearance of the actors, is the stuff of women’s dreams. Yes, you could argue that men yearn for great romance too, and some will be moved and prompted to take action after seeing this commercial too, but I feel comfortable in stating, firstly, that this commercial is primarily targeting women, and secondly, its emotional appeal WILL cause a rise in Stracciatella gelato sales. I know one target audience member who was prompted to buy and try some and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed in my purchase.  The gelato was as delicious as I expected to be, and I felt so luxurious just eating it.  It’s just plain creamy good. So, I’m giving Haagen Dazs double kudos — one for great target advertising and another for making sure that the product promoted in its advertising delivers!

competitive advantage, good will creation, marketing consultant, sales, traditional marketing

Why I Love the Marketing Term “Shoe Leather”

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-pair-old-fashioned-brown-shoes-isolated-image20178948

Now more than ever, I love using and hearing the term “shoe leather”.  The minute I speak it or hear it, I conjure up the image of a pair of slightly worn, lace-up brown shoes. I don’t recall exactly when I first heard the term used, but I liked it immediately because it made me think of the old way of doing business, of a time when businesspeople called upon other businesspeople and introductions were made in-person vs. LinkedIn.  “Shoe leather” makes me think of hard work, of pounding the pavement, of my father’s and my grandfather’s generation, of keeping moving and never giving up.

As a marketing professional, I often see and hear too much emphasis being placed on newer marketing tools and vehicles, and not enough emphasis being placed on what I call the “traditional” ways of doing business. While I’m sure there are those who may not agree, I do believe that there are still profitable deals being made and relationships being formed the old-fashioned way — during a cold call drop-by,  or an invite to lunch or coffee.  And, that’s a good thing.  Newer marketing vehicles such as social media play their role in connecting with certain audiences regarding certain products and services, but they’re never going to give a prospective client that warm, fuzzy, welcoming feeling of a handshake, a smile, or a lively, but friendly, debate about how the Boston Red Sox or Bruins are playing.

My father always told the story of how, as a very “green” office equipment salesperson, he persistently pursued one client.  Despite being turned away several times, my dad continued to drop by the office of the individual responsible for making furniture purchasing decisions.  The older gentleman became so impressed with my father’s tenacity that he eventually placed a very large furniture order with him and the two began a relationship and friendship that lasted many years.

So, the next time you think about e-mailing or calling a prospective client, think about invoking the “shoe leather” philosophy, and consider paying that client a visit.  You may be surprised by the benefits you’ll reap besides getting some good old-fashioned exercise.