Guerilla Marketing for Operators — Personality… Stuff?
And…. welcome back. I hope everyone had at least a decent holiday weekend, if not a killer one. I know that I did.
But enough with pleasantries! That’s not what you’re here for, after all. Today we’re going to talk a bit about building rapport and marketing to people who don’t want to be marketed to. Which, really, is almost everyone. Except for maybe those people who open emails that are clearly viruses, but there’s no helping them.
At some point in your guerilla marketing career, whether you’re handing out menus somewhere or trying to set up some kind of cross-promotional thing with a fellow business, you’re going to have to talk to people. Well, maybe you won’t (in the case of handing out menus and such), but somebody will. So today’s post is geared towards those somebodies. Let’s start, shall we?
A lowbrow reference to the movie Swingers, which I had rewatched recently. It held up better than I thought it would, truth be told. It is not a reference to the book of the same name by Florence Littauer, though that would have been far more relevant and maybe made me seem smarter than I actually am. Do I get points for at least acknowledging it? No?
First, let’s talk about the people you should have at the front lines of your guerilla marketing efforts, and who you shouldn’t. I’ll use myself as an example to start with.
I studied the black arts of guerilla marketing under the watchful eye of a man named Elijah Young. Elijah is a guerilla marketer’s dream: friendly, outgoing, attentive, with the kind of personality that fills a room. He can talk to anyone, anywhere without a moment’s hesitation.
He took us out to show us the ropes of handing out flyers, swag and coupons, and it was incredible to see him work. Then we were split in the groups to do it ourselves, and I froze.
I may have made mention of the fact that I don’t really like people. To be honest, I’m just cripplingly (not a word, I know, but you get the drift) shy. Yes, yes — I play a loudmouth braggart on the internet, but in person I’m the guy who bums everyone else out. I find it almost impossible to talk to people I don’t know. And making small talk? Forget about it.
So yes, I totally froze. Despite Elijah’s glowing example, I found myself totally unable to approach strangers to hand them coupons and whatnot. Eventually I found a teacher who wanted all of them, so I handed her my stack and made like I gave them all out to different people. Now I’m great on the phone. I’m great behind the counter. But without a clearly delineated line between myself and a consumer, I’m completely useless.
This is a long-winded way of saying that you don’t want idiots like me handing out menus or hollering down people while sign walking down the sidewalk. You want people like Elijah: friendly, approachable, attentive and excited. Well, maybe not too excited, but hopefully you get my meaning.
Now ideally you have some people like this on your staff already, so you at least know what to look for. The idea is that you get people who are able to establish some amount of rapport for your marks (let’s call it like it is here) and make them feel comfortable. You don’t want people associating your operation with being put-upon and irritated.
And how about that rapport? Remember what I said at the beginning, about people being reticent about marketing? I’m pretty sure we’ve mentioned it several other times as well, but whatever.
Anyway, establishing some kind of rapport, even in passing, is crucial to breaking through. After all, people often get handed stuff and approached about all manner of business, and most of the time that kind of thing goes in one ear and out the other. Approach is everything.
I’m full of personal anecdotes today, so here’s another one about two of the worst and funniest approaches I’ve ever had:
- One dude walked in one day, obviously selling something. He walked up to my friend Luke (not Vanee) and said “You look like a guy who loves steak.” Which is funny because Luke is pretty slight and wears skinny jeans and decidedly doesn’t look like a guy who enjoys eating anything, let alone steak. And also, red meat makes him sick. And he looks like a guy who gets sick from red meat. It was definitely the funniest opener I’ve ever heard, and quite possibly the worst.
- This other dude, this other time, walked in selling perfume and cologne. Now I don’t look like a guy who wears cologne. Truth be told, I look sort of like a crazy hobo: long beard, bald head, angry-looking eyes, stupid-but-sort-of-tough-looking tattoo. Most people with something to sell leave me alone. Boy Scouts selling popcorn outside the grocery store won’t look me in the eye. I’ve even had Jehova’s Witnesses skip my house (confidential to Jehova’s Witnesses: no offense) after they saw me. But this guy tried his best. He tried the wife angle first (“Buy some perfume for your wife!”) and when I told him no dice, he tried to sell me on some cologne. I asked him if I looked like a guy who cares about cologne, and he suggested that maybe I could put it in my beard.
Both of them were total disasters. Keep this in mind while handing out flyers/menus/coupons, having a sign walker out interacting with people, trying to get your menus/coupons in another local business or trying to team up with others for some sort of symbiotic guerilla marketing relationship. When interacting with anyone from a marketing perspective, details matter. Some quick tips:
- Be friendly.
- Be outgoing.
- Be courteous. If you’re handing stuff out or have the aforementioned sign walker out and about, don’t be harassing people who are in the middle of something: eating, on the phone, deep in conversation.
- Don’t prejudge. You can’t always judge a book by it’s cover. Now sometimes you can, but I’m constantly surprised. Just in a general sense, I mean.
- Cut to the chase. Don’t waste people’s time.
- Commit. Assume they want what you’re trying to give/tell them.
- Qualify. If you’re going to engage someone, anyone, in conversation, ask questions and let the answers dictate your approach.
- Don’t be pushy. If someone is uninterested in whatever, they’re uninterested. Move on.
- By the same token, don’t take anything personally.
Again, approach is key. You don’t want to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth with regards to your operation.
QUICK ADDENDUM TO SOCIAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN IDEAS
Totally forgot this last week, but Chamber of Commerces, neighborhood associations and apartment complexes. Join/get in contact with them. These organizations often have some kind of “Welcome Wagon” deals where a bag or basket of gifts is given to new residents. There’s no reason that your menu/coupons can’t be part of those. Make sure you tailor your offer specifically to these programs.
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS
Not sure if I used that one already, but whatever. That wraps up today’s post. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about charitable marketing. Probably. Until then, contact the guerilla marketing gorillas at Vanee Foods for ideas on jump starting your marketing campaign!