As an owner of an engineering company, my philosophy on marketing is fairly simple but has proven to be well received. Start local, market organically and remember life should be about helping others and our community. By following this simple phrase, we have been extremely successful and have built numerous lasting relationships.
Based on my experiences, the best way to market elected officials is to stay true to yourself and get involved to improve your community. Join the Chamber of Commerce and multiple service oriented clubs, attend community events such as holiday celebrations and community outings. One must invest the time and effort required to learn from community leaders what the goals are of the community. At the same time, attend the municipal meetings. By attending the municipal meetings and staying abreast of the local media, you can determine where your elected officials and community leaders have a shared vision. Then determine which goals and visions you support. This is your connection point. Determine how you can get involved and possibly even become the community champion of the vision.
Prior to getting involved and attending municipal meetings prepare yourself by doing some research. Through social media and the local media, one can typically learn a lot about others. Look for common links that can drive a conversation, such as children, pets, service clubs, education, etc. Once you find two or three things you have in common these can be your conversation drivers. Once you have the opportunity to meet these officials, start small. Introduce yourself and whatever you do, do not start your sales pitch or start talking about yourself. Mention how you recently read a story about them in the local paper or how you saw a picture of them at a government function. This should provide the opportunity for them to start telling you about themselves or their passions. Like most of us, they typically enjoy talking about themselves or their accomplishments.
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The most important thing is to listen and not prolong the first few encounters. After each encounter or meeting, write down some notes about interesting things you might have observed, such as where they grew up, or what college did they attend, and so on. These things will be useful in developing the next level of conversations.
BE MEMORABLE, GIVE BACK
Make sure the community leaders and elected officials see you as a pillar of the community not someone looking for a contract. The key is to be memorable by not standing out but by giving back and being involved in many things in the community. This requires more than just donating money, it is about rolling up your sleeves and getting personally involved to make your community better. Let them see your face over and over until they know your name and what services you and your company provide. As time goes by you will hear about opportunities where your company can provide the set of skills necessary to accomplish their need. Then and only then do you even consider using your sales pitch.
Marketing at its core is very simple. People tend to do business with people they like and trust. So how do you convince others to like or trust you? This should be as easy as being yourself. If you truly support the goals of the community, the trust will come through hard work and time.
Remember these steps to guide you through this connection:
- Gain attention through actions not word
- Be true to yourself
- Learn to lead a conversation through listening and preparation.
— HOWARD RAY