Be an influencer for marketing

At a Boy Scout event a few years ago, I was asked by a friend, “How are things at the Journal?” I know I had a puzzled look on my face because at that time I was not writing a monthly article. I answered, “OK, but I don’t work for the Journal.” He then asked me where I worked, and when I told him, he responded, “I’ve been looking for a company like yours.” I knew he was a CPA, and I asked how I could be of assistance to his accounting firm. He smiled and said, “I am a CPA, but I don’t work for an accounting firm. I manage another company.”

That was an important lesson to me to let others know what I do. I am a representative of my company regardless of where I am, and yet someone I know found out that he didn’t know me as well as I thought nor did I know him. It was a lesson in learning to listen to others, asking pertinent questions and communicating better myself.

The trouble with trying to explain marketing is that it is a service and therefore invisible and intangible. It’s rewarding to hear, “I really enjoyed your ad,” but the reader or viewer may not have a clue about the amount of time and planning that went into the implementation of the ad campaign. Nor should they. The purpose is to communicate a product or service, not to discuss the creative process that came before the production of it.

When a marketing firm presents product samples – like a newspaper ad, a TV commercial, a website, a radio commercial – it’s showing the “how we do it” of marketing, but it is not showing the “what we do” of marketing. A case study would be more effective with its explanation, but case studies only appeal to those who are interested in hiring a marketing firm. Trust me, they’re not bedtime reading.

When I’m asked what I do, I have a short reply prepared to do my best to explain what marketing is. I encourage others to do the same for their businesses. Networking opportunities are all round us. We can all help each other. I get asked questions that are not directly related to my business, but I want to help the person get connected with someone who can assist them. That makes me an influencer for their businesses, and when they refer to me, they are an influencer for my business.

I attended a conference in New Mexico. There I met an attendee from Mount Gambier, South Australia, which is near Adelaide. He told me of Blue Lake – how pure the water was and how incredibly blue it is during the spring, summer and autumn months. I told him of Tupelo and the attractions we have. Later in the week, we were on a trip with a group to a museum, and our van driver stopped the car. He saw a buffalo standing in the field. My friend told the passengers, “That’s nothing for Ty; there’s a whole herd of buffalo next to the airport in Tupelo at the buffalo park.” With our conversations, we had turned each other into ambassadors for our respective towns. We were influencers for each other’s towns.

In addition to letting folks know what you do, it is also important to have good relationships with friends who can be influencers for your business. And, be sure to return the favor.

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