The Visit

To me marketing has one key aim of creating a process. A process of turning a suspect into a prospect into a client. There is a multitude of ways to deliver effective marketing, but getting that initial meeting should a core objective of the process.

When you get that meeting and start to plan the first visit to that prospect you’ve tried so hard to meet, you immediately have a decision to make – how many people do I go to the meeting with?

I mean, do you “fly solo” and rely on your interpersonal skills, charm and outright wit or do you take another team member in case the person you’re meeting doesn’t fall under your spell?! There are arguments for either of these options, but keep in mind that personal chemistry is always a crucial element in any relationship so maybe go with others if you’d like more than one bite at the cherry.

If you do take more than one person, any follow up should always be pursued by the person who gelled the best or could better offer the requite expertise. If you decide to go on your own (or you are part of a team of 1), the person you’re meeting HAS to buy you as much as the organisation you represent.

Remember your work shouldn’t start when you are in a room with him or her. It should start with doing your homework in advance of the meeting. Google makes desktop research very simple and it is very likely that the prospect has a website and social media accounts for you to review. You need to know as much as possible.

In fact, right up until the meeting itself, you can still collect valuable information about the person and company you are about to meet: the in-house magazine on reception, the plaque on the wall, the POS material, the reception screen, the receptionist etc etc. When about to meet an organisation in London, I happened to be in reception with someone else seeing the same company. The company he was from I just so happened to know and he said that this company was one of their clients so I dropped the mutual friend into my conversation with the CEO!

But it all starts in earnest with that initial handshake and then that walk or journey to the meeting room. Make the handshake firm and do your best to build rapport as quickly as possible. You may pick up personal details that can be used in a follow up, e.g hobbies and interests. Again, the same applies as you leave – the conversation as you walk back to reception can provide further insights.

I’ve had the odd surprise when making a visit like – “our CEO is going to join this meeting” or “I know we discussed ABC in our emails, but I’d like you to cover XYZ as well please” or “really sorry, but I’ve only got 15 minutes instead of the 45 we agreed.” Whatever the surprise, deal with it. Be confident and enthusiastic and deliver the core elements and key messages you aimed to deliver before the visit.

First impressions can make all the difference on your visit!

How to open doors

Open that door!
In order for a business to grow, clients need to buy from you. Don’t expect many clients or prospects to buy straight away or to beat a path to your door in the early stages, but stick with it and you will reap the rewards. Similarly, most buyer surveys suggest that buying decisions are highly rational processes following elaborate scouting of the offers, the study of marketing material, the personal recommendations or even initiatives like social media.
Therefore, you must make sure that your company image is one that differentiates yourself from others and that your own marketing speaks volumes.

I write numerous posts on how to get your marketing ducks in a row – see this post for example – and how to give your business the best chance of success, but, what is it that attracts a prospect to stop, look and listen? Here are a few ideas you could use:

Offer a report on some original research – Who can resist free information? However, in order to be effective, the research must be original and new. Your prospect will most likely be in a better position than you regarding their knowledge of their sector so don’t tell him/her something they already know.

An in-depth analysis of his/her market – Similar to the above, but this is about having some sort of information that reveals your intellectual capacity. PR and literature are the most suitable vehicles to carry this.

Invitation to participate in research – This will depend on a number of factors, but, if the subject matter is relevant, the results made available and it brings him into contact with peers in his sector, it is likely that the prospect will participate. Flattery is quite key to this!

A critique of his activities – Obviously this can go straight to his heart! Be careful, but outline/highlight where the prospect could make improvements.  For example, in my  10 minute 121 meetings at networking, I concentrate very hard on adding value to peoples’ current marketing; giving them tips on how to get the most from areas like direct mail.

Are you a leader in your field? If you can truly substantiate that you are an expert, the prospect should be listening to you. You don’t need to be the biggest or even the best, but having extensive experience in his area will be of great value. Bath Marketing Consultancy does this in relation to the legal and retail sectors.

Exploit uncertainty – Deep down many clients fear exploitation i.e. “Am I being ripped off by Agency X?” “Am I the person paying for the MD’s new car and the businesses new swanky offices?” If you know information about their current supplier like a change in personnel or their costing structure, you can use it and it would take a very self assured client to turn a deaf ear to the information.

These are just a few of the techniques you could employ to open a door. Try one or try them all and then let me know how it went.