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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

After hours marketing?

On vacation in Los Angeles, I combined my enjoyment of sporbikes with business by renting a bike and driving it through the Malibu Canyon to visit Leonard Megliola at Bestline Plumbing in Glendale. The resulting story has become one of this blog's most frequently-viewed postings over the past few months. I'm not a particularly talented motorcyclist, but enjoy the sport. Could I combine my hobby and vacation with effective marketing? Can you achieve similar combinations? Absolutely.

Rory Swann in the Washington D..C. area posted this provocative question on the forums:
OK, it's five o'clock the jobsites are closed down for the day.

Everyone has left the office, you're setting the buildings alarm and turning key to lock up for the night.

But your job is only beginning.

Where do you go and what do you do to market, advertise and promote your company after hours?

So far i have started to attending a local networking event every month since they started it. It has had a well attended crowd and every event.

My next after-hours event will be a local BNI that I have been invited to attend next Wednesday.

So what do you guys do to market you business after hours?
Other forum members responded that they participate in business and community networking groups, or not, golf, or not, and someone jokingly posted a reference to a topic which is outside of the terms of reference allowed for me to accept third-party advertising on this blog.

Here is my answer:
If it's after hours, and it isn't fun to do for you, then where is your life? Golf works, if you like golf. I can't golf and don't like it.

Get me to an interesting city away from home (best with the family along for the adventure) for a relevant conference (like SMPS National last year in Denver), and I'm really happy (and do some great networking).

I like writing and blogging -- definitely something to do after hours. Forcing myself to "network" at an event with people I don't really like; not so good (but if it is a core group, I can always bring the camera and generate material and collect plenty of cards. (I'm debating whether to go to the next Design and Construction Network happy hour in Washington. If it was a day trip, it would be a no-brainer; I'd go; overnight is more complex.)

Our challenge for after-hours stuff is to find things we like doing AND which are useful for the business. Then it isn't work. And when we enjoy our time, we are usually much more successful at it.
In fact, this point relates to my fundamental attitude about the key ingredients to marketing (and business) success:
  • You must enjoy the activity; and
  • Your activity must put you in connection (in the right sort of way) with your current and prospective clients.
One person related a story about a working-class person who found his way to be a member of an exclusive golf club, and soon had all the business he could handle, is instructive. The trades person who did this clearly took some risks -- stepping outside his traditional comfort zone -- but unless he had truly exceptional willpower, I don't think he could have succeeded unless he really enjoyed golfing.

There is a third criteria, but this applies only to your working hours:
  • You must be really good at what you do.
(After hours, it is fine to pursue your hobbies and non-career passions; from a marketing perspective, you simply want to do these things in context of your client base. Of course if you really aren't great at your primary craft, trade, or business management skills during working hours, you are probably in the wrong business.)

Take a look at your after-hours activities, and think of the things you really enjoy doing, and how you can connect this time with your business. You will succeed at your sales and marketing, and have fun, too.

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