Escaping the Starbucks Marketing Trap

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You meet someone at a Big Networking Event.

There’s a chance to do business with them.

If you’re like most people, you swap business cards, and a few days later you invite them to Starbucks for a sales pitch—I mean, a double latte.

This is an “offer.” You ask the other party for something, and you offer to give them something in return.

Give me 30 minutes of your time and I’ll show you how I can:

*solve one of your biggest problems
*fulfill one of your greatest dreams
*spill hot steaming chai down the front of your shirt.

The trouble with this approach is that your time is valuable.

If you make an appointment with every single person who might be a possible client, your entire marketing plan is limited to 24 hours a day.

Plus you haven’t qualified the prospect to see how interested and eligible they really are.

Unless you happen to meet a financially independent millionaire (and there are lots of them at networking events), people with the free time to hang around in coffee shops don’t usually make good clients.

But what can you do instead?

Offer something other than your time, at least at the beginning. Ideally you’ll have something that nobody in their right mind would want unless they need your service.

That’s why the best thing you can offer is free information, especially if it addresses some critical pain or desire your prospects have. I assume you have a fairly sophisticated business that takes time to explain. You’re not just selling lemonade.

You know more about your field than your client does. You’re an expert, and the real buyers sincerely want you to share some of your knowledge.

That’s the idea behind a “free consultation,” which is what all your competitors are offering.

Be different than your competitors.

Make your suspect demonstrate their interest by signing up for a newsletter, going to a seminar, or reading a report or white paper.

The format is simple. You meet that potentially interested networking warrior.

Instead of immediately seeking caffeine, you say to them, “It sounds like you might be able to benefit from a degrommetization. Check out my website. There’s a free guide on the homepage telling you the top sixteen ways to save money by getting rid of distracting grommets.”

On your homepage there’s a special opt-in form where anyone concerned about the side effects of grommets can download the free guide you mentioned.

(Ahah! An offer!)

If they follow through, you now know you’ve got a qualified prospect who is desperately trying to rid their life of grommets. They’re in your database, so now you can send letters, email, or phone calls as you slowly educate them on the benefits of degrommetization.

If they continue to express an interest, then you can make an appointment. (Coffee time!)

If you don’t want to put together written content, there are other ways to present your free information.

Reserve a large table at a local restaurant at lunch on the first Tuesday of every month for a presentation.

Now you tell your new networking friend (and scores of others) that in two weeks you’re giving a free seminar on degrommetization. After a month of serious promoting, you should be able to draw a nice-sized group. You give your presentation not to one potential suspect but to five or ten prospects who are sincerely interested.

Not only that, but you help your restaurant buddy get more business. He might even reward you with a free coffee.

You can do this with a teleconference as well. Or a webinar. The point is, your offer of free information, whether it’s written, audio, or live, sets you apart as an expert.

You’ll save days of time, and automatically screen out the tire kickers who are just out for a free blended mocha.

To get ahead in business, you have to stand out from the competition. You have to do something different. You have to be bold.

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