Networking events are useful for growing your business, so long as you do not just use them as an opportunity to sell too aggressively.
Effective networking is primarily about meeting new people and then deciding if they are worth contacting later. Some might be potential clients or suppliers; others merely people with whom you found some empathy and a common sense of purpose.
Networking events can be intimidating for even the most extrovert characters, but a simple way of introducing yourself into a group of strangers is via the simple request, "may I join you?".
You should first ask where a person is from and what business they are in. Next, you might try to elicit a customer story to add some colour to the conversation. From there, you should use your instincts as to whether the conversation is worth pursuing.
If you do sense that there is some common ground, you can ask them why they were at the event, hoping to uncover any potential sales needs that you might be able to address. To show that you have immediate value, you should respond with factual information such as a useful website, or even recommend someone from your own network who you feel might be useful to contact.
The key is to establish quickly that you are interesting, which in the early stages of a business relationship is a combination of practical information and a good personal network. If you are able to establish this successfully, then they should be happy to receive an e-mail to set up a meeting, which is when the sales process can be started in a structured way.
While attending networking events should always have an underlying sales purpose, the wider objective is about increasing your circle of contacts. The people you connect with successfully can then reciprocate with their own valuable information and interesting people.
Our lives are dominated by mobile phones and e-mails, impersonal tools that can often take the spirit out of an enterprise. Networking events are useful for reminding us that business should always contain some element of human contact.
Originally published in The Mail on Sunday. Copyright ©Mike Southon 2012. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission in writing. Mike Southon is the co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur and a business speaker.
OK, so firstly I want to start off by saying that running a restaurant is not the dream most people hope it will be. The hours are long, the stress levels high and the profit margin sometimes feels like it’s barely worth the effort.
Whatever reason you do it (the love of people or cooking or the loan you took out) at some point in between cooking up a storm and running around like a headless chicken, you might have time to think about marketing.
Unfortunately, when you do get around to typing in “restaurant marketing” into Google, the results are pretty depressing — just companies trying to sell their latest products by telling you what you already know.
So here are some genuine examples of great restaurant marketing campaigns from around the world and what you can learn from them (and apply in your own way).
1. Hipster doofuses
Urban Eatery in Minneapolis put up this billboard down the street from their premises:
“ATTENTION HIPSTER DOOFUSES: Sorry about that, but it’s not easy getting the attention of people who reject mainstream consumerism like billionaires reject tax overhaul. Here’s the thing: Do you ever wake up in your designer platform bed in your urban loft, shuffle over to your espresso machine and wonder: Is this all there is? Day after day of wearing ironic vintage tee shirts and searching the Internet for nu rave techno rap bands from Uzbekistan? Don’t you wish you could let your androgynously cut hair down, wear some not-quite-so-painfully-skinny jeans and kick back and watch the grass grow? Not to get all marketingy, but at Urban Eatery you can take a break from looking vaguely disinterested in everything while wearing your favorite organic fedora. We use fresh ingredients from local farms and offer free valet parking — and free is nice if you have one of those hipster liberal arts degrees. So why not take some time out of your busy schedule of wrestling with existential angst and drop by Urban Eatery. After a hard week of conforming to nonconformity, you’ve earned it.”
This is brilliant because it defines who its target market is and aims specifically at them. Any restaurant can serve good organic food or offer valet services. Often restaurant owners get mistaken by thinking that offering “the best” or a certain kind of food will get the most customers. What they should be aiming for is to target a specific niche and provide services for them specifically. And it’s ironic. Which is ironic, because Hipster Doofuses like irony. Ironic, right?
2. Free coffee
There is a little coffee stand at the Roma Street Train station in Brisbane, Australia. It’s next to three other little coffee stands that offer the exact same thing (coffee).
But it’s much more popular than the others. Why? Because unlike its competitors, this coffee stand offers 50c small coffees on Friday’s, and a free one if you refer a friend.
So let’s do a little analysis:
Offering discounts willy-nilly is just silly; offering them when there is a thought-out reason can have some pretty impressive results.
At New York’s Japanese restaurant Ninja New York, the staff are ninja’s. Firstly, I’m not suggesting you go and hire ninja’s to increase your marketing (although I’d be impressed). I’m talking about focusing on providing an experience.
Offering something that sets you apart from your competition (but still appeals to your target market) can be a good move. You can have the hottest chilli burger in the state. You can have an “eat-free-if-you-finish-it” heart-attack steak. Whether you are the closest restaurant to the beach, the cheapest restaurant or the best in fine dining, create a Unique Selling Proposition that sets you apart.
Three ideas to think about
1. Consider your niche. Not what kind of food you’re offering, but who you are selling to.
2. Use discounts, but only when they serve a purpose.
3. Have a USP that sets you apart.
Chris writes a blog about restaurant marketing at www.foodiebizz.com
Well the Olympics was pretty stunning, wasn’t it? I think it’s fair to say that London 2012 delivered and then some. Olympic fever gripped the nation and left us all clamouring for information as Team GB soared up the medal table.
As the main Olympic broadcaster in the UK, the BBC certainly gets a fair dollop of credit for the 24/7 coverage it provided across the full spectrum of digital channels. But I think LOCOG — the organisation in charge of running the Games — needs to be commended. The London 2012 official website did a great job of providing real-time updates and the mobile apps were another leap forward providing information whether you were attending events live or just catching up on the train.
But, for me (as you can imagine!), the way LOCOG used email was particularly interesting. And I was very, very impressed.
Every day, I woke up to find a ‘Today at the Games’ email waiting for me. Across the spectrum it really ticked the box, offering a one-stop shop with all the detail and information needed to plan every Olympic day.
Not only this, but one of my friends who went to see the handball received an email on the way to the event advertising related handball souvenirs that could be purchased onsite or online — a great personalised upsell opportunity.
In particular, these areas really stood out:
Calls to action: There are powerful calls to action throughout this email. Whether it is viewing further information (like medal tables) on the website, downloading the mobile apps or topping up your Olympic merchandise in the official ecommerce store, these are all designed to encourage engagement.
Personalised: The email I received was clearly targeted to someone living in the UK, supporting TeamGB. In fact, right up there in the top right hand corner, you can see the postcode you registered with and the country you are supporting. There are also links to allow you to change these options. Fantastic! With an event like the Olympics, where there is so much going on, selecting the right content for each recipient is vital to success.
Mobile: These emails are great examples of responsive design. When viewed on an iPhone the two-column structure you see on a desktop email client automatically shrinks to a one-column version. This makes it easy to read and visually appealing, no matter what device you are viewing the email on.
Images: This email has a great balance of images and text. Images are used sparingly to ensure that the email size isn’t too large but, when they are used, it’s in a way that really brings the message to life and engages anyone that opens.
Content: There is a perfect mix of content in this email. It’s actually quite long, which isn’t a bad thing at all. More important is the fact that content is varied throughout the email. There’s a mixture of news, features and calls to action. There really is something for everyone here; you don’t need to be an Olympic obsessive to get value but the message perfect captures the excitement around the games.
Sharing: Links to social media channels are clearly visible in this email and, with the large numbers of social media that ran throughout the two weeks, it’s no surprise to see LOCOG making the most of this. The ‘forward to a friend’ link is also prominent in this message.
This is a real value-add email. With so much information being shared about the Olympics over the last two weeks, making sense of all the noise was a real challenge. This email hits home by providing a succinct but detailed companion to what many think was the greatest sporting show this country has ever seen.
The summer holiday period can be a frustrating time for salespeople. Buyers and decision-makers are on holiday or are busy covering for colleagues who are. Your own production, warehousing and delivery staff are off and you may have been away as well.
If we’re not careful, that summer holiday feeling can drag over into late September, and even October in some cases. And by the time you come to your senses, it’s nearly Christmas and your sales figures are nowhere near where they should be.
To avoid that summer holiday hangover, follow the simple tips below and just watch the impact on your sales figures.
1. Take a long hard look at your pipeline
September is a great time to sit down and analyse your sales pipeline. You’ll have had a number of people say to you “call me back after the holidays”, and perhaps now you’re struggling to get hold of those people? Or they suddenly don’t sound as keen to meet you (or buy from you) as they did before the holidays?
That’s probably because the “call me back after the holidays” was a simple objection, and you didn’t deal with it very well! Now, it’s a few weeks later and their level of interest (if they had any in the first place) has cooled from lukewarm at best to pretty much cold. Sometimes you can revive it, and sometimes you just need to move on.
2. Be more realistic
As salespeople, we tend to be positive. Sometimes we’re even guilty of being over-positive. And nowhere is a better example of that than with our own sales pipeline.
I’ve worked with some salespeople in the past that are entirely convinced that everything in their pipeline is going to come in, and probably this month. And most salespeople probably need the majority of it to come in, to have any chance of hitting their target.
However, September is the time for more realism about sales pipelines. If the people who said “call me back after the holidays” are no longer that interested, get them out of the pipeline.
3. Re-qualify if necessary
This is a really important point and one that is overlooked by the majority of people. If it’s several weeks since you spoke to the prospect last then there is a good chance that their situation has changed.
This means that their buying motivation may have changed, the drivers behind their initial interest and potentially the business or divisional goals may well have altered in that time. Therefore it’s imperative that you re-qualify the sales opportunity to ensure there is still good potential for bringing in this piece of business, quickly.
4. Get things moving
Once you’ve taken the above steps, for any potential deals or prospects that are still in your pipeline, it’s important to get them moving. Far too many salespeople sit on a big pipeline, with deals or customers that have been stuck at one stage or another for ages, without any idea of when or how they’re going to move to the next stage.
Depending on the length of your sales-cycle, if you’ve got deals or prospects that have been “stuck” at one stage or another for a while, you need to take a close look at them and determine some actions to get them moving through the pipeline, or get them out.
Sales managers and directors much prefer realistic pipelines to ones that are pie in the sky. It also can be quite demoralising for a salesperson to have an unrealistic pipeline, as the more deals or prospects that don’t convert, the worse the sales person feels, and their confidence, attitude and motivation are affected — therefore they’re less likely to bring in the other deals.
So, be more realistic about your pipeline, get the deals or prospects out that are unlikely to convert, re-qualify them if necessary and get what’s left moved through your pipeline — and you’ll see an immediate impact in your sales performance.
Marketing is about targeting right?
Reaching the right audience at the right time with the right product is the essence of most marketing campaigns. The past decade has been all about improving targeting — we have seen the rise of Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), chasing the holy grail of personal one-on-one marketing.
As a consequence we are collecting and storing vast amounts of data from transactional and website usage data to demographic data, and that’s before we start to look at external data sources including lifestyle, psychographic, behavioural and modelled data.
However the opportunity to create a personal dialogue with customers has also brought about its challenges. Many marketers in their quest for “big data” have ended up paralysed by the sheer volume of data available to them and are unable to turn it into actionable, intelligent campaigns.
Marketers have poured vast resources into collecting and storing data but are finding it difficult to extract value from this asset. In many companies marketers are finding it difficult to see the wood for the trees. Even companies that don’t have a proactive strategy to collect data still have a huge amount of data available to them that they haven’t thought about using.
So is one-on-one marketing a pipe dream?
Not for many forward-thinking marketers who understand that data is part of the marketing journey rather than the destination. For the first time ever small and medium-sized companies can compete on a level playing field with the big boys as technology that fuses together data and campaigns is no longer based on huge enterprise systems.
Plug and play
Brands now have access to simple plug-and-play technology that can turn data into intelligent campaigns without the need for multiple third parties and the inevitable delays that having multiple parties creates. Smart marketers from all sizes of company are not only collecting data and using it intelligently, they are using it in real time and across multiple channels to drive a personalised and consistent journey for the customer.
So how are successful brands doing this in practice? The possibilities for merging data and technology in this way are endless but here is a taster of the sorts of campaigns that are now a commonplace for an increasing number of brands.
Real time personalised website content: We are all familiar with the “Welcome back Mr Smith” level of personalisation paying lip service to personalised content however the real value lies in personalising everything from landing page creative, offers and messages to personalised product display to ensure the customer is engaged with your brand from the moment they land on the website. The engagement is maintained by showing products that the customer is most likely to buy based on what you know about them. This is updated in real time so that even actions within the session will drive what they are seeing and optimise their journey to increase the responsiveness of a campaign.
Customer re-engagement: We know that 80% of online shopping baskets created by browsers are abandoned prior to checkout. Many savvy retailers have programmes in place to try to re-engage with these customers to recapture this lost revenue. The ease of putting in place this sort of campaign makes it a no-brainer for marketers who can see upwards of 10% uplift in their sales. Marketers focused on recapturing this lost revenue are targeting these customers with personal offers to encourage the customer to complete the sale. For example, customer A receives 20% off as she is known to be price sensitive whereas customer B receives a personal shopping session as she is known to shop in-store. These sorts of campaigns eliminate the need for expensive blanket promotions as well as providing an opportunity for brands to really show each consumer that you understand them.
The multi-channel opportunity: The opportunity to turn data into actionable, intelligent marketing works across all channels. Turning insight gained online into a real time tele-marketing campaign is now possible as is using browsing data to personalise imagery via digital print for catalogues. We are no longer limited by technology and the way our 3rd party suppliers work together, we can create automated campaigns the bridge the gap between marketing departments and channels.
The opportunities for merging data and technology are endless and exciting. We now have the ability to personalise every touch point and use the insight gathered from every channel to drive a personal and relevant communication, whether customers are communicating with us via our website, stores, telephone or email.
Tony Lawes is the managing director of Sub2Technologies.
Do you have an egomaniac in your firm? Just how damaging can this type of personality be in business? And how do you spot them? Here are ten signs that someone is being driven by their ego —and my suggestions for a better way.
1. Blaming others
Any time someone blames others, it’s a sign they’re not taking responsibility. They may have good reasons why things aren’t perfect but it’s never anything to do with them. They also like to spend a lot of time grumbling about it.
Instead: Look at the situation, decide what you would like to be different, and then put into action those things necessary to make that happen.
2. Blaming themselves
It goes like this: “It’s all my fault! I’m not a good enough… I should have…, I shouldn’t have…”. This is an excuse for someone to stay in the past, and not make changes in their behaviour, beliefs and attitudes. It’s also very attention-seeking.
Instead: Look at what happened, learn from it and then quietly get on with making the best of the situation.
3. They are always right (and never wrong)
The inability to admit a mistake is a sure sign of ego. They will defend, argue and use all kinds of evidence to demonstrate that they are right.
Instead: Be willing to experiment with other ideas before you decide what works.
4. They know everything about everything
They’ve read every book and they know every theory. Often they are so full of knowing that there’s no room for new ideas.
Instead: Ask questions and take time to learn from others.
5. They never have any problems, only solutions
This aspect of ego is all about keeping up appearances. They never admit to having any problems. They also know exactly how to solve everyone else’s problems and are the first to jump up and insist they help others.
Instead: Admit your struggles but not in a way that burdens others. Share problems as a way to create empathy with a colleague, for example. But let others know that things can and will be different. Ask for help when you need it, and accept it graciously.
6. They know exactly what’s wrong with you, the world and everyone else
This egomaniac is full of theories about exactly what’s wrong with society, religion, the government, the economy, the environment. They will be up on their soap box telling the world that it needs to change, and doing their best to trigger guilt in others.
Instead: OK, so the world is not perfect and there might be some things you want to change, but start that change in yourself.
7. They never have a mentor or ask for help
They don’t need help because, of course, they know everything. They are above all that and they’re perfect as they are, thank you!
Instead: Always seek to learn from others, even those who might seem less well trained than you.
8. They are judgemental
Many egomaniacs are very judgemental of others, their behaviour and their beliefs. They will continuously point out the flaws in others, and will give unsolicited advice about exactly what that person needs to do to change for the better. They will leave others feeling insecure, inadequate and as if they have failed.
Instead: Try and make others feel good, not bad, it will bring out the best in them.
9. They don’t go on any courses or programmes
They feel that they don’t need to because they are so enlightened. They will say things like “It’s not the right time”, “That course would be perfect for other people”, “I already know that”.
Instead: Always be open to new knowledge, new groups and new experiences.
10. Their lives never change
The purpose of ego is to keep you safe, and it always thinks the safest thing to do is to avoid change. So, when a person is driven by their ego, their lives never seem to change. They have the same situations, experiences and problems (that they may not admit to) over and over again.
Instead: Relish new challenges rather than shying back from them.
Dr Lisa Turner’s website has more advice for enlightened entrepreneurs at www.psycademy.co.uk.