Network Marketing Strategies

Social Internet & Face to Face Business Development

Making Connections: Targeting Your Market? Think Again.

I’ll never forget the first time I was hoodwinked by cutoffs and sneakers.
I was working in a very high-end boutique store and approached by what was clearly a homeless man in cutoffs and a T-shirt (his shorts pockets bulged with whatever he had collected from nearby trash cans.)

The man was requesting…

…pricing and information about various items and sets that we had available however he clearly did not know what he was doing as his tastes seemed as disparate as desiring a Tiffany lamp shade to go with an Andy Warhol print. He was wasting my time and I was visibly irritated. His irritation with my irritation also became visible in a short time and I realized that, for the sake of humanity, I needed to humor this man and be willing to give him the time of day: We’re on this earth for a short time, be nice to people.

After an hour or so of discussing every prohibitively-expensive option in the entire store he asked me to total it up, the whole thing.
Well I didn’t waste my time grabbing a calculator, I just said, “We’re looking at about five grand.”
“Wrap it up,” he said, “Can you deliver on Thursday?”
“Um, I  have to get payment up front.” I said dismissively.
He reached into the bulge of one of his pockets and pulled out a rubber-banded stack of $100 bills wrapped around an Amex card that was rubber-banded to a driver’s license.
“I need to give you two thousand cash and put the rest on this card.” he said matter-of-factly.
I dubiously allowed him to hand me the card/driver’s license bundle and quickly compared the names on each.
“Huh?” went through my brain as I read the name.
I looked up at his face as he counted his bills and compared it with the driver’s license.
I turned white as snow. I recognized his face instantly! At the moment he had long hair which had fooled me but the face was unmistakable; I KNEW who this person was! (I won’t divulge his identity here as he has deep enough pockets to sue me into several lifetimes of income should he consider this post defaming.) Needless to say I was thoroughly embarrassed, took top-notch care of him from there on out and he never did business with me again.

Recently I landed (somewhat) on the other side of that short-sighted stick. As an ambassador for the Chamber its my job to reach out to new Chamber members to welcome them and help them get started networking within our business community.

A common approach for me involves walking into the place of business with a welcome kit of materials from other businesses with similar or complimentary interests or products and some materials from my own business along with a fresh pink carnation and just a big smiling “Hello and Welcome!” (It all has a very “Mary Kay” flair -without being a direct reference- but it is literally the business that I’m in.) From there I try to find a convenient time that I could sit down with the business owner over a cup of coffee and learn more about their needs; their ideal clientele, the focus of the business, etc.

So a new business member that I approached in this way was very friendly and receptive up to the point of sitting down with me and describing their particular business niche. The name of the business was non-descript and their web presence was rather vague on specifics so I really needed to get some details to be able to promote and refer their business to my associates and affiliates.

I directly asked if we could sit down together and exchange our business notes; I find out about them and they find out about me in whatever context would be convenient -a phone conversation, promotional materials, anything.
The direct response was, “Well, we hate to turn potential new business away but we’re really trying to target our market and we do focus on ‘professionals’, but thank you so much for the offer.”

Wow.

So my professional female clients (and there are many of them) along with all of my professional contacts through The Chamber along with all of the professional consultants in my parent Mary Kay unit (women who desire to maintain their corporate careers and enjoy MK as a weekend hobby) along with all of my full-time MK uplines or any new Chamber members that I come into contact with… NONE of these people will ever even know just what this business does through me. I still don’t know exactly what they do to this very day!

Now I don’t really care that they think that I’m less than “a professional” running a Mary Kay business. Heck, I’m happy to be a “lesser-than” all the way to the bank because it literally finances my lifestyle and I love my Marin County house-on-the-hill and working 20-30 hours per week and taking the month off when I feel like it. What truly saddens me is that I can’t share the wealth with a business that won’t even give me the time of day.
Thats so too bad.

So, targeting your market? Think again: The person standing in front of you may look homeless, gay, straight, conservative, liberal, male, female, professional or not -it doesn’t matter. EVERYBODY is connected! We all have families, business contacts, personal associates and professional affiliates and they run the gamut of lifestyle and professional acumen. How you treat the person standing in front of you isn’t about that person; its about everybody that that person will be in contact with over their LIFETIME! (It’s also about you.)

What do you want people to say about you?

Personally, I would far prefer to be known as somebody who wastes his time outside of his “target market” than to be known as arrogant.

Love, Tony

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