Real Engagement vs the Hard Sell

This weeks guest blog is written by the amazing Tiz Porreca – AJUNJO – Strengthening Relationships and Engagement in Business.

It has been more evident to me than ever, that many businesses get lost in the noise of traditional marketing methods and have very unrealistic expectations when it comes to the results they are looking for.

Not long ago, I was speaking to a real estate agent who had sponsored an event and was disappointed. He had not received the outcomes he expected.

It was an outdoor movie night that was held by the local sporting club for the enjoyment of children and their parents. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that it was an event run by the club to help raise funds – the only way many are able to survive.

After congratulating this agent for supporting his local community I asked him to tell me more about his participation.

He had provided the club with $3,000 to be the major sponsor of the event and his aim was to get emails and phone numbers of those who attended. He went on to explain that he managed to get some, but “not enough”.

My next question was: “What else did you do?”

His response: “I had our banner up on the evening and some of our staff attended”

I asked: “That’s great, but what did you do before or after the event”

His response: “What do you mean?”

Therein lies the problem.

Firstly:

This was a Real Estate Agent – with all due respect to Real Estate agents, no matter how amazing they may be, there is a perception (rightly or wrongly) that they cannot be trusted and they are hunters.

Buying or selling one of the biggest assets of a person’s life is a big deal for most mums and dads (the target audience at this event). They want to know they can really trust the organisation they go to when its time for them to buy or sell.

Showing up at a family event, seeing a banner, being approached by someone they do not know and asked for personal contact details will usually only have one reaction – you guessed it “…NO WAY”.

Secondly:

For this real estate agent, his participation was purely transactional – “we will give the club money to sponsor the event, so we can collect contact details, so we can chase potential business”.

Nothing wrong with that, however there has been no real consideration about whether this was the right way of going about it. More often these days choosing an organisation to do business with requires trust, which will not happen on the first or in only one encounter.

Think of your personal relationships. If you are after something long-term, there is courting involved. This could take weeks, months and sometimes years before you gain the trust of someone to have a relationship with.

Consumers are so much more aware in today’s marketplace. The landscape is completely saturated with people that compete with products and services and are all doing the exact same thing to market themselves. People are tired for being sold to.

Being connected, being trusted and being human far outweighs being “really good” at what you do. That is merely an expectation, which may get you over the line once or twice but not necessarily ongoing or referred to others.

Another approach for this particular example in real estate may have been to look at connecting with their community in a more sustainable way. Like showing up to the community in ways that demonstrate they are giving back, helping or providing…not wanting/expecting something. For example:

-          Donating books to the local school or fund a special charity drive that educates the students as well as help a local community group.

-          Running the sports club sausage sizzle by funding it and cooking on the day while engaging with the parents

-          Participate at the local markets by providing face painting for gold coin donations to support a local charity and matching those donations.

-          Pay for their staff to help volunteers of the local school P&C to run their school fetes

In all of these examples, the business branding is/should always be present however the message/actions should be that of: “we are here to help, we are here to give back, we love supporting our community…”

This of course needs to be done over a longer period of time, say 6 months to a year…and ongoing. It should be strategically planned, incorporated into your traditional marketing campaign, appropriately budgeted for and most importantly properly managed.

Why?

So when your traditional marketing (like flyers, mail outs, emails, FaceBook ads, newspaper ads) reach your community, they will intuitively connect the dots to the guys who care, the organisation that can be trusted because they are part of the community, they are human – they are givers, not just takers.

That’s the sort of business that sticks, gets referred and creates loyalty.

People know when you are genuine, so be authentic - even if it takes a bit of time to shatter their perceptions created by others before you!

Jemimah AshleighComment