Off the Edge : Events
Off the Edge is a marketing blog written by Sharon Wilding and Jim Hunt of THE PURPLE EDGE and occasional featured guest authors. It aims to provide thought-provoking and useful content on marketing and business issues. Please feel free to comment on our musings, and if there are subjects you want to discuss further then please get in touch.
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I didn't think the creature really existed.
I thought it was an exaggeration used for effect.
I thought everyone knew the dos and don'ts.
I was wrong!
At a networking event I attended recently (I won't say which to avoid upsetting anyone) I met the nightmare networker. If you ever read anything about "How to network effectively", or listen to someone talk about the subject, they always talk about them. The card thrusters. The salesmen who get straight to the pitch. The ones who drop you immediately they realise you're not an obvious prospect.
Well this person was all of them in one perfectly constructed social disaster!
I noticed her when she arrived - perfectly professional in a suit and with a notepad and briefcase she straight away struck up a conversation with someone across the room. I was chatting in a small group. When I next looked up she was talking to someone else. A couple of minutes later a friend arrived so I went over to say hello and passed her talking to another person. "Blimey!" I thought, "She's getting round the room". A few minutes later she was with someone else.
It wasn't long before it was my turn. I was talking about football to a nice chap from Charlton when I happened to glance round and saw her stood at my side. Without so much as a by your leave she jumped in "Hello, I'm The Predator from Widget Co". I told her my name which she took as all the invitation she needed to thrust her card at me. "Oh, thanks," I replied, "Would you like one of mine?". She paused (maybe she wasn't all that bothered) before holding out her hand. She then went on to ask me what I did. I told her. To which she replied, "Are you looking for any Widgets?" I explained that I wasn't and that was it, she was off.
The whole interaction lasted at most 10 seconds.
Later I was talking to a very nice lady from a design company when I noticed The Predator standing about 5 feet away staring at us. Again my look was taken as an invitation. I watched her then run through exactly the same ritual with my new friend. Again the interaction lasted about 10 seconds. When she left we had a bit of a giggle about her. Interestingly we were then joined by another lady from the same industry with whom we had a really nice chat. I know what she does, where she does it, how business has been, what her hobby is, where she got married, and where she went for her honeymoon. At the end I asked for her card.
If I ever do need some Widgets guess which one I'll be contacting?
The next time I looked up The Predator had left. I reckon she'd been there about 30 minutes and had got round the whole room of maybe 35 people. Incredibly efficient but not terribly effective - unless of course her objective was to make her company the last one you would ever contact for Widgets!
There's no doubt about it, e-everything has transformed the way we do business. We have email, e-newsletters, ecommerce - and lots of things that don't begin with e but are still electronic: websites, blogs, social media, video, laptops, smartphones, etc.
All these bring enormous benefits in terms of speed, ease of use, ease of reach and cost-effectiveness. But do you ever feel we are losing our sense of balance? Are we in danger of becoming too seduced by the charms of the e-world?
It was Christmas that made me think about this a bit harder. Like many people, in recent years we have turned to emails to send out cheery messages of glad tidings and great joy at Christmas. And we're on the receiving end of a fair few. But are they a good substitute for the traditional, hand-written card? I decided "not in all cases" so this year we took a step back into the dark ages and sent some of our contacts cardboard by snail mail!
Here's my 3 reasons why:
- It's more personal - the email versions are obviously sent as volume mailings, personalised by machine if at all. I like the idea that someone has taken the trouble to write me a card.
- It's more visible - email is fleeting, transient. Seen for seconds and deleted. I love the decorative effect of Christmas cards - having them on display is all part of the fun.
- It's bucking a trend - if everyone else is opting for email then sending a real card stands out and gets you noticed. And I don't really buy the 'better for the environment' argument - if it wasn't cheaper and easier than writing and sending a card most people wouldn't give a Christmas fig about the environment!
Sending greetings by email clearly has a role to play - especially when the message makes best use of the medium, with a animation or game for example. I love email communications. But my thoughts about Christmas cards can also be carried over into our choices about marketing communications for the rest of the year too. Especially when it comes to adding a personal touch and standing out from the crowd.
If you spend a lot of time at a computer, in the e-world, then it is easy to assume everyone else does too. This is a fatal mistake - as we've said before, you are not your client. You need to be aware of the preferences and habits of your target audience. Mixing up your media, integrating the more traditional methods with the new, will give you more opportunities to be seen and get known.
One size does not fit all!
What do you think about sending and receiving cards vs emails? And do you think differently if you're male rather than female? Another factor to consider in your targeting of marketing communications!