Smart Marketing: the value of face-to-face networking

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    By Karen Rosenzweig

    Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe social media is the end-all in terms of marketing your business. There, I said it.

    Despite my belief that social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) are the most productive, cost-effective solutions for most businesses, I have high regard for the value of in-person marketing as well. I don’t believe marketing is an either/or proposition in terms of online and offline tactics – it’s a both/and. Businesses need to be adept at marketing themselves both in-person and online to be truly effective, and one arena definitely feeds the other.

    There are many types of businesses that rely on seeing their clients face-to-face (hello, restaurants!) and need to draw clients in with a personal touch. If you own a retail shop, you might rely more on great signage to pull in new customers, since you have the advantage of constant foot traffic all day outside your door. If you are a financial services provider (advisor, banker, etc., your best bet to building a relationship with a new client is definitely face-to-face, to build that trust and credibility necessary to get new business.

    So what’s the best way to meet potential clients and customers in your own neighborhood? My suggestion is that businesses (and entrepreneurs!) take advantage of the many “networking group” opportunities we have in Edmonds. There are a variety of weekly and monthly opportunities to mix and mingle with both your current and potential customers, and showing up in-person does wonder for the visibility of your business.

    While Twitter and Facebook may be great ways to build business relationships and draw new customers, there’s still nothing like having coffee with a new friend or hearing testimonials in-person from mutual acquaintances about the great service or product your neighbor provides.  Showing up on a regular basis at these local events is a great way to build your credibility and get the exposure that will help your business thrive. Thre’s an old marketing formula that says “visibility plus credibility equals profitability”, and I’m a big subscriber to that philosophy. Be visible (online or in person), show us what you can do and who you are (credibility) and we will likely be your customer at some point (profitability).

    Listed here are links to several networking group opportunities in the Edmonds area – what others would you suggest? Let us know in the comments and look for us next time you’re out and about town!

    Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, weekly networking breakfast, Wednesdays 7:30-9 a.m. Fairwinds Brighton Court (Chamber also offers monthly luncheons, ribbon cutting events and after-hours events)

    Business Network International (BNI), Edmonds Big Dogs, weekly meetings, Thursdays 8-9:30 a.m., Edmonds Conference Center

    Toastmasters, weekly meetings, Fridays 7 a.m., Pancake Haus

    Le Tip, weekly lunch meeting, Thursdays 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Pancake Haus

    Edmonds resident Karen Rosenzweig is a social media consultant/trainer and owner of One Smart Cookie Marketing. She writes weekly about how companies, entrepreneurs and restaurants can increase their customer base and gain visibility through Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other social media tools.

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