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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The call

We're in the midst of a couple of marketing success stories I cannot share all the details with you right now because of confidentiality requirements. The developments are certainly livening up our days here -- and show, more than ever, the power of integrated approaches to marketing, combining this blog, service standards, and community connections and relationships.

While I'm constrained in describing the details, one example will show how all the pieces fit together. A couple of weeks ago, I received a call inviting me to bid on a project. Observing the circumstances, I realized the project is beyond our business scope, focus and plan -- but it certainly is within our marketing community.

My 'mental Rolodex' went to work, and I thought of someone I knew from years ago, with the relevant connections and experience. Thinking he is in semi-retirement, I figured a call to him would not hurt -- he might be able to refer me to someone who could help deal with the situation.

He returned my call today. Turns out, he is only temporarily 'retired'. We discussed the project parameters, and he suggested we bring in a third person (who I know and respect). Once I gather some additional information, our team will be able to present an incredible proposal, based on years of relevant experience and industry knowledge. I think we will blow away the competition.

This is the stuff of great business. The person I called had earned his brand reputation through years of business and relationships; he didn't need to go out and sell himself (as I didn't, in learning about the original opportunity.) We aren't forcing ourselves into contortions to win the work; we are simply building a natural and effective team that can do what needs to be done with quality, effectiveness, and reliability. And we'll only bid the work if we can earn a profit.

Relations like this often occur through long-standing participation in relevant associations. Although this story is not related to The Society for Marketing Professional Services, I've heard from long-standing SMPS members that the greatest business value of their association membership is, indeed, the relationships -- especially when they are working on projects that transcend their regional geographical scope or specific expertise. They know who to call on for insights, ideas, and in some cases, joint ventures and proposal development initiatives.

In these cases, marketing success seems so natural you almost wonder if you need to work for a living. Minding your own business, you receive a call out of the blue from someone you know, who invites you to join in the project. Where is the salesmanship, the search for work, the hard effort here? Of course, you still need to do your work really well. And you won't get that call unless you are around, in sight and mind, or your achievements leave such a strong impression (brand?) that when the need for your services arises, the prospective client or joint venture partner will call you first.

The interesting thing about this form of marketing is its seemingly indirect and long-term nature. This is not the stuff of cold calling and canvassing; of expensive advertising campaigns and high-cost sponsorships. It is, piece by piece, making the connections, contributing, and delivering value. And there is an extra bonus. As you succeed in this type of marketing, you'll notice great things happen in your own organization as work flows in. The success spirit is infectious.

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