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Thursday, July 09, 2009

The perfect (and near-perfect) marketing place

The BILDCOttawa event provided plenty of networking opportunities, in a natural environment. Perfect for marketing.

Yesterday afternoon, recovering from my spammy survey market research effort, I attended a perfect marketing event. Perfect for my business, that is. Nevertheless, the event also proved to be near-perfect for most of the other participants.

The event: A BILDCOttawa afternoon panel discussion focusing on the "Anti-Recession Infrastructure Program". BILDCOttawa is a lobbying and information-sharing consortium of associations representing the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects (ORSA), The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) -- Ottawa, the Consulting Engineers of Ontario -- Ottawa Branch, the General Contractors Association of Ottawa (GCAO), and the Iinternational Facilities Management Association (IFMA) -- Ottawa Chapter.

GCAO representatives encouraged me to attend, and organizers made me welcome by waiving the $25.00 fee (which included lunch and dinner). Representatives of several companies providing products and services for facilities management paid to be sponsors and had space for their exhibits.

The meat of the event: Representatives of the Canadian federal government and the City of Ottawa explained exactly how much money they had from anti-recession infrastructure programs, and how they planned to spend the cash. This is golden market research information for the general contractors and architects in the room and great stuff for Ottawa Construction News. (I was the only journalist there.)

I'm sure you don't need to be a rocket scientist to see why this is a perfect marketing venue for me.
  • The participants and organizers wanted me to be there because my presence lends support and credibility to their efforts;
  • The participants are mostly decision-makers and senior executives within the community of people who can facilitate revenue-generating features and advertising for our publications;
  • We were in a warm, educational, and relaxing environment, where we had plenty of opportunity to network, communicate and share stories.
  • The event cost me nothing but time (and this time is well spent -- I have significant editorial content for our publications, as well as valuable marketing and sales leads).
  • Our presence there creates a positive connection between our publications and the marketplace; in other words, it helps the brand.
In reading these observations you may be saying "good for you, but how does this help my business?" The answer is that you can find similar opportunities, right under your nose, if you look in the right places.

Consider these points:

Association involvement, especially with associations that connect or serve your clients or key influencers, provides powerful marketing opportunities.

You may find you can take things a step further by building liaisons and linkages between your specific trade association or group and client-centric organizations, to create new levels of association involvement, such as BILDCOttawa. Leadership in these endeavors ultimately puts you in the right place, at the right time, among potential clients.

Consider the power of your niche, namely your specific skill or service, and how it applies in the marketplace.

We sell advertising; you might install drywall or build office towers, but you have something of value to offer. Meld this within the association and community framework, and you hit a marketing home run.

Look at the associations named in this article: Yes, they are local, Ottawa chapters, but most are part of associations with chapters in most major cities. In other words, the synergies and inter-relationships here could truly also apply in your own market areas.

From a near-perfect perspective, I don't think the suppliers who paid for exhibit space at this event feel they lost out on the deal. They had direct and immediate access to people who could truly specify their services, and they could overtly promote their services in a meaningful environment.

Regarding my spammy market research test, yesterday's blog entry resulted in some useful emails from readers with practical suggestions and ideas to overcome the marketing challenges exposed by that experiment. This blog's openness may represent one of its most powerful marketing advantages. Bob Kruhm pointed me to this posting: Using Social Media to Build Trust and a Brand, which explains how blogging and showing your business as it is, warts and all, can be really helpful in your marketing process.

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