A morning with the Marketing Minds Academy

Today, I awoke to my diary telling me I had to be in Oswaldtwistle at 9am for a seminar. This always means I have to talk to people. Fridays, mornings, painting the smile on my face and being nice to people. This had all the hallmarks of tough morning for the anti-social and grumpy element of my brain that was clearly dominant, as I gazed at the rain coming down “stair-rod” like outside.

So off I stomped like a recalcitrant teenager to attend the seminar on Referrals and Presentations hosted by the Marketing Minds Academy ……..

I entered the room and was immediately greeted by Kate Harling, a lady with a smile big enough to knock the gnarls off anyone’s grumpy face. I turned round and immediately received a big hug from Carmen Parkinson, the Referral Queen herself and presenter of the first session. The morning was looking up and rumour has it that I might even have smiled!

I have had the pleasure of listening to Carmen many times and she never fails to disappoint. As ever, Carmen filled the room with smiles and laughter and, for once, none of it was at my expense. It was a tough crowd, maybe I wasn’t the only grumpy one there, but eventually the concept of a “yes Carmen” moment was understood by all.

Good, sound advice on how to build and utilise a referral network and tips on effective networking were delivered to an appreciative audience. As Carmen herself said, Referral Marketing is simple but not easy. It is certainly a little easier with the helpful hints and advice she gives.

The second session from Jean Atkinson of the Academy and was on Presentation and Message together with a whistle stop review of the latest technologies to help market businesses. This was the first time I have met Jean and, as you would expect from a Professional Marketeer, it was good content delivered well. The piece on the importance of feedback was well received despite the fears it seemed to instil within the room.

The review of the latest tools was, for me, particularly useful and included some I had not come across but have been reviewing since. The cameo appearance by Kate Harling of Marmalade Toast Media to show Aurasma drew an audible gasp with cries of “its witchcraft” and “voodoo” from those new to the technology.

So that was it. A thoroughably enjoyable and useful three hours of my life. What’s more, it was free. Today was a good day after all.

Be yourself and let people buy from you

We often forget that the people we meet at networking events are people first and business people second. As a result, those who present themselves as such, and who colourfully forge emotional networks, are the ones who will stand out from, and contrast with, the hordes of people taking themselves way too seriously and trying their damnedest to impress and sell.

I was reminded of this when I had the pleasure of attending the Northern Lights Networking event at UCLAN on 10th December and meeting their excellent hosts Neil Simpson and Lateef Badat. The format was different from normal, being a Pecha Kucha evening. For the uninitiated, this is the art of the concise presentation, featuring 20 slides of 20 seconds each.

The six volunteers gave presentations covering themselves, their likes and inspirations. The evening was both well attended and a great success with many a look of laughter and surprise.

The presenters did not try to sell a single thing but their presentations built empathy with me to such an extent that, when I need their product/service, I will call them. In a couple of instances it revealed connections that would never have been uncovered in a normal networking event. The courage shown by a couple of the presenters in “putting issues out there” was palpable and impressive, and commented upon by many.

Two of the three fundamentals in making a buying decision, trust and emotion were ticked off without a single pitch or sales presentation. The logic part of the decision will follow but we all know that, in most cases, the brain makes the logic fit the endearing emotional decision.

This is another example of the old adage that “people buy from people” and that you have to put something out there for people to empathise with you. That is my lesson from the evening, let people see you for who you are without a pitch. Some people will like it and some won’t, the key is that those that do will be around for a lot longer! As the referral queen, Carmen Parkinson, always says, nobody likes being sold to, but most people like to buy something.