A Little Excitement (Issue 531)

In which we are reminded that we need to market (attract attention) before we can sell.

Last Saturday morning, after early morning dark clouds and rain, I left my office in West Concord village to tackle Saturday morning errands. Turning left from my office drive way, I  reached the first intersection, stopped to look both ways for traffic, and noticed…

People on the sidewalks, both sides of the main street, huddled around tables, kibbitzing in clumps, as far as the eye could see. “Huh,” I thought, feeling curious. “I wonder what THAT’S about.…”

So, (nevermind, the errands can wait) I parked and joined the crowd, milling from one store to the next, looking at their sidewalk tables, catching up briefly with similarly circulating friends.

There were corn chips and locally made salsa on one table. Wholewheat crusted pizza, veggie finger foods, and health food information at another. Discount coupons at the donut place. Coupons for specials at the Italian restaurant.  Free free muscle scans from the chiropractor. The tutu store had strategically placed a couple of dancers in toe shoes under their awning, while the quilt store’s rack included some marvelously colored quilts.

All were part of “Concord’s Town-wide ‘Sizzlin’ Summer Sidewalk Sales,’” as it turns out. Automobile traffic crawled along as people looked out their car windows. “Look, Harry, there’s a dan-sah over they-r!”

Despite the press of the undone errands, I enjoyed sampling goodies and crowding around on a beautiful Saturday morning.

So what? We are selling consultatively and it ain’t about the product push, and “Sizzlin’ Sidewalk Summer Sales” sounds like product push, and Main Street merchants have been doing sidewalk sales since the Norman conquest of England (1066, in case you missed it),  and what could we learn from these tiny stores, anyway?

To stimulate curiosity. To draw our prospects and clients attention. To engage them. Before we can sell, we have to market.

Yes, marketing approaches vary from positioning high end legal services to offering small business banking services to selling shoes.  And yes, the strategies differ depending, for example, on whether our employers are engaged or whether we’re on our own. However the foundations are the same.

This is why, particularly for knowledge-based professionals like consultants, bankers, and attorneys, “moving and shaking” is so important –  writing an interactive blog (or speaking at conferences or local meetings, or writing articles for local or national publication),  sharing our views of client challenges, actively engaging in and leading professional association activities (whether this is the Chamber of Commerce or a national industry group), offering pro bono services, even leading community activities are so important.

Our articles, blog entries, and presentations are like the salsa and shoes and “special offers” on the merchants’ tables.

Most of the sidewalk merchants don’t expect major sales THAT DAY. Last Saturday really wasn’t  a “sidewalk SALES day.” It was a sidewalk MARKETING day.   The merchants were attracting attention and stimulating interest that will play out in multiple purchases over a longer period of time.

When we write articles or give presentations, we shouldn’t expect to make major sales THAT DAY when they appear. The articles, entries, and presentations  attract our clients’ and prospects’ attention, stimulate their curiosity and browsing, demonstrate our wares, and start conversations that lead to engagement and purchases over a longer period of time.

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