Have you ever browsed the web to find a certain company’s website? Perhaps you are looking for a specialty construction firm, a local bakery or a photographer to take business photos. As a marketing professional, you likely find flaws in these companies marketing plans—even if you are looking at these firms on a strictly personal basis. If you take care in how you do it, you may be able to make connections with these small businesses that extend deeper than just buying a dozen cupcakes. If you’ve ever been tempted to tell a company that its marketing campaign stinks, check out these tips for a few ways you can turn a small business you patronize into a client for your marketing firm.
Small Talk Works
While you may not be a fan of small talk as a general practice, it can be a very important way to warm up to talking business with a potential client you meet “in the wild.” Spending some time talking about the big game last weekend, the great Mexican restaurant across town or a mutual acquaintance will warm the business owner up to talking about topics that are outside his or her specialty. Plus, if he or she sees you as an acquaintance rather than just a customer, you will be in a better position to make marketing suggestions.
KISS (Keep it Simple, Silly!)
When you are talking with someone who not only is not involved in the marketing industry, but also did not even approach you for marketing assistance, you want to keep things as simple as possible. Do not jump in and start talking about SEO, SEM and inbound marketing—you will likely lose any chance of making a connection. Start simple and when possible show him or her, rather than just tell, what you can do for the business.
Don’t Be Personal
One of the first rules of criticism in any form is “don’t be personal.” Since you are essentially telling the business owner that what they are currently doing in regards to marketing is not the “right,” you want to be as gentle as you can in how you phrase it. Come at it from the other angle—for example: Instead of saying “Your current marketing plan is less-than-ideal,” you might say, “We can improve your marketing program by doing A, B and C.”
Instead of trying to explain your ideas for marketing in a five-minute conversation, ask the small business owner if you can have his or her email address. You can then send a more detailed pitch with links to examples of your work, samples of what content writer services could do for the business and other important details.
One of the most important things to remember is that when you approach small businesses in this manner offering your services, you will often hear “no.” Don’t let it get you down. Give the business owner your card and who knows, later down the road he or she may decide to make marketing a bigger priority. In the meantime, have another cupcake and continue building connections with more business owners who are part of your community.
Tracy S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.