Vanishing Opportunity

Marketing is an ever-present part of your life if you own your own business. You need to do the most of it when you are too busy with other clients. If you wait until you aren’t busy, it’s too late.

Marketing means making your business known to potential clients. The more targeted your marketing, the more likely clients will see it. This is true on the Web and in person. You can have a billboard visible to 10,000 people a day, but if those 10,000 people don’t need your product or service, it doesn’t help your business.

lotus bowlThis is the same idea as buying a jacket you hate because it is on sale. Once you get it home, the price doesn’t make a difference if it goes with nothing in your closet.

I get a fair number of calls from people who have “excellent marketing opportunities” for me. They generally involve me doing something for free–donating a piece of my art or offering free life- or creativity coaching. Sometimes people ask me to write for them for half my fee, because “it will put me in front of many important people.”

After they describe in glowing terms how my art will be showcased or my writing will be read, I ask, “how is this a marketing opportunity for me?”
“Well, your work will be seen by important people! That’s like money in the bank!” they say, a touch annoyed that I’m so slow witted as to question this wonderful opportunity.
“Actually, having your work seen is not like money in the bank, or I’d have a lot more money in the bank,” I reply, “A marketing opportunity puts my product in front of people who are willing to pay for it. If someone at this event asks you how much you paid for my services and you tell her, they will not be happy if I quote them a much higher price. They will want the same deal you got. That isn’t an opportunity for me.”flower bowl

But I meet determined people. In an effort to convince me, they say, “Well, I won’t tell them the price.”
“How many people have asked you who wrote the introduction?” I ask, continuing, “How many people in the group actually want to be coached or need writing? Because getting clients means more than having my work seen. It means having my work noticed and wanting something similar. If that doesn’t happen at this event, and I don’t continue to advertise to them, I won’t get any business.
“Well, what do you want?” the pitch person asks.
“I want the mailing list for your organization,” I’ll say, if I think the group contains potential clients.
This is met with a gasp of horror. “I can’t do that, that’s giving you contact to my group.”
And we certainly wouldn’t want that, is the unspoken part of the sentence.
A marketing opportunity is only an opportunity if you, the business owner, see it as one. Giving away your product or service because you want to do a good deed is worthwhile. Having a fleeting second in front of a crowd is not marketing and not an opportunity. It’s charity. And that has a big place in my work. But it’s not marketing.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and creativity coach. See her work at Bowls: Handmade paper by Quinn McDonald. (c)2007, All rights reserved.

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