I could just be burnt out on information in my face, a potential effect of years of research, but I'm tired of fliers, tag lines and sales speak. Throughout my career I've found that often my best marketing technique has been NOT MARKETING .
Social Networking has echoed the experience in that it seems to be relationships, lifestyle and personal interests that make others curious about what we do and why we do it. Even with good friends, conversation and curiosity come from shared interests. Generating curiosity is a natural by product of having an interesting story, and reflecting that story honestly.
The real kicker is that what has been the most effective marketing technique for me, in all of my service businesses over the years has been what I now call the "exclusive" approach. I actually get more leads by challenging, questioning and drawing boundaries around what I WON'T DO, and strangely people seem to like that . . . or at least find comfort in the clarity of a boundary.
This is part of the reason I've emphasized personal growth so strongly over the years of promoting massage and life coaching specifically. When you are confident enough in yourself to say "No" or "I'm sorry that's outside my boundaries," it is often seen or interpreted as a strength.
Stories draw interest, curiosity generates engagement with the customer in control, boundaries create clarity and safety, and exclusivity creates a feeling of missing out in a way that the potential customer wants in, to be part of it.
It kind of reminds me of fishing . . . you know, if the bait just lays motionless on the bottom it's unattractive, yet if it tries to get away the pursuer can't help but go after it. Now in fish, its instinctual . . . in humans, I don't know . . . it may be.
This has happened often and in different businesses and I'm curious if others have had the same experience?
When I started massage I tried all the standard marketing stuff, and had success but worked my buns off. Then I got frustrated and raised my prices and even told some I wouldn't be keeping them as customers. (Late comers, energy consumers, late payers). I lost some business but the customers I kept respected me more, and referred more often. The second time I raised prices and drew more boundaries, I got more referrals and business boomed.
Nearly all of my business has been generated by referral only and I even express that I "work by referral only" when I pass out business cards, which seems to generate the feeling of exclusivity for the potential customer.
As a coach, confidence grew and getting specific about what I would or would not work on with customers seemed to seal the deal time and time again.
As a sales manager, frustration in customer service had me quickly relying on the now old secret of drawing boundaries with confidence and a deep respect for myself . . . customers responded with more sales, better communication, and clarity that brow beating would get them no where. It's done nothing but help the business.
So now I ask, can walking away from the pitch, pitch, pitch actually be a business builder? I'd love to hear some comments.
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