When I was invited to do a presentation for the organization Downtown South Bend (DTSB), it was by mistake… a miscommunication.
I was having a conversation with
the folks with DTSB and noted that I had not heard about some of their events until after the fact. I spoke
about the fact that often times our marketing efforts miss large segments of potential customers and this was an example of
one of those cases. So I was asked if I’d be willing to talk about this as part of an upcoming lecture
series and I said sure. I was down in Florida on vacation when I had this conversation with them.
So, when we later connect on this, it was some weeks later and I have to admit; this had not been high on my priority
lists. Preparation and planning for the lecture series had moved ahead and the proposed title selected
for the talk was “The unexpected customer… how to reach the market you have ignored”.
reaction was “that sounds kind of harsh”. I didn’t think I said I felt I was being intentionally
ignored by marketers. I didn’t think I had expressed any anger or outrage. In
fact, I was enjoying a stroll along the beach with my beautiful bride of 38 years and was in a very, very good mood. So,
I started to ask that we title it something different, but then I thought about it. This was exactly the
point. It’s not what I said that is important… it’s what was heard. It’s
not what I intended to communicate… but what I actually did communicate. And that’s what we
must consider when we encounter the “Unexpected Customer”.
Because of the type of work
that I do, I get asked quite a bit to help groups and businesses get in front of potential customers… usually African
But isn’t this just the basic targeted marketing… marketing 101? Isn't the
question just "How do I get more people to buy more of my stuff?"
What’s the problem.
No one needs me to look up the various diverse media outlets in the area and advertise with them…
or they shouldn’t.
Local media outlets always provide a very affordable way to connect with a broader base.
It varies with every community, but here are some of the ones I’m sure you connect with here. The
great thing is the sales people and owners of media like these are generally very immersed in their communities.
When you get to know them and support their efforts, they generally respond in kind. After all,
they’re small businesses too. As they get to know you and what your business or organization really
stand for, they share more information, create avenues to influencers and spread the word that your organization, your business
or your initiative are ones that deserve their trust.
But as I said, I get asked
all the time is will YOU get me in front of them? I’m always glad to help, but who’s the relationship
with, them or me? And what’s the message? Is it what they want to know and need?
Or is it what you believe they want or need?
And that brings me back to my opening comment.
I intended to communicate one thing… and unintentionally communicated something very different.
I either unconsciously stated, or somehow implied that I had been excluded from the marketing being done. I
don’t think that’s the case. I have access to all of the media outlets that are used.
I was probably exposed to the programs and events just like everyone else. But, I didn’t see
them. They didn’t speak to me.
And it’s just back to marketing 101…
I’m always telling my clients that nothing happens until someone sells something…. And
no one sells anything until there’s a relationship.
I’m frequently asked
you’re a member of the NAACP… can you get me in to present to them?
a member of the 100 Black Men… can you get me in to talk to them?
The answer is always yes.
I’m glad to help. But, my question is what are you going to tell them? Usually
it’s the same old song about how my product or service is ideal for you. How I have a solution to
all of your problems. But once again, why am I forgetting the basics?
I was asked
by a university to help them get more minorities to their business development and entrepreneurship seminars.
I was glad to help, but the question for them was “what’s the goal?” Their intentions
were good, noble, etc. But what they said was their goal was not what they really wanted to accomplish.
You can always tell, if you’re not achieving the goal, what you’re rewarding isn’t consistent with
what you said the goal was.
They said the goal was to help more women and minority
businesses grow. But how they actually measured success was how many people showed up at the event and
filled out surveys saying it was a good event. They rewarded attendance, not business creation and development.
What the community needed was support to continue working with the businesses and help them grow.
But isn’t it the basics? Isn’t it common sense? Unfortunately,
like they say, common sense just isn’t that common.
What’s the old line?
No one cares how much you know until they… what? Know how much you care.
NAACP and the Michiana African American Chamber of Commerce, I’m pushing and encouraging us all to be intentionally
inclusive. I’m pushing for my minority business owners to get more connected with DTSB and groups like Green Drinks, 3 Degrees, Ignite and others. And I’m encouraging all of my clients to tap into resources like Make a Difference Michiana to get more information about what organizations are doing what things, who are members and how can they develop some relationships.
When the groups know you care and that you listen, they’re more inclined to be open and want to work with you.
We can truly accomplish much, much, more when we all choose to work together.