A Good Networking Event?

Networking EventWhat makes a good networking event? I am sure it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s a good combination of people – those I know and don’t know. As well as individuals that are there to meet people – not just sell.

I prefer an event where there are a few people that know me and are willing to make introductions. I find it helps put most people more at ease rather than walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself.

I was at a function recently at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove and was introduced to a woman starting a new company. We discussed many aspects of her company and as I offered her my card I told her not to hesitate to contact me with questions or if she felt I could introduce her to some prospects. Her response was surprising. “Wow, at most events I go to, no one ever offers to help. It seems they just want to sell me their products.”

A good reminder for any networking event – it’s give and take. Not all take. How many times have you been at an event when someone interrupts a group to push their business card into your hand with not even an attempt to understand what it is you do or need. First impressions count. So don’t be remembered that way or not at all because I throw those business cards away

While we are all out there trying to make an impression and market our small or large business, we also need to be willing to listen and understand the needs of the people we meet.

Non-Traditional Networking

Plymouth Congregational Church

Think about the word “networking.” What immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s two of the business networking groups here in South Florida – the Coral Gables and Greater Miami Chambers of Commerce. They both host wonderful events that attract excellent professionals, and I’ve made good connections through both organizations. However, some of my best contacts have come from less traditional outlets.

If you’ve read this blog before, you probably know that I’m a runner. But you might not know that I actually lead a half marathon training group. We run extremely early on Saturday mornings because about 95% of us are business people and that’s the only time we can all get together. We come from all walks of life and professions and spending hours together each week has really allowed us to get to connect with each other. I know who to call when I need a top rated neurosurgeon, an architect, or a legal guru, and they know who to call when they need promotional marketing products (me!).

While I don’t go quite as often as my mother would like, I do frequent Plymouth Congregational Church. After Sunday service, there is always a social hour in the garden. While I don’t always talk shop with my fellow parishioners, I do develop bonds with them. Those bonds can ultimately extend to business – a man I met while sipping my coffee actually ended up re-roofing my parents’ house! And I know that when he needs marketing materials, I am going to be his first phone call.

Those are just two quick examples, but the moral of the story is that you can network anywhere! Get involved in groups that interest you, make new friends, and business will follow.

Promotions at the Boat Show

Miami Boat Show Between the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the Miami International Boat Show, Presidents Day Weekend was a busy one in South Florida. I attended both events, but we wrote about the Arts Festival last year, so I figured I’d tell you about the Boat Show.

I’m a native Miamian and the Boat Show has been going on for as long as I can remember but I have never been, and boy was I amazed by the sheer size of the event! It spans three locations – Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina and Yachting Center and Miamarina at Bayside – and features over 2,000 exhibitors, as well as thousands of boats. It’s so big that the official event guide is a whopping 233 pages long!

Being first timers, my husband and I decided to limit our Show experience to just one location: we chose the Convention Center. It was stuffed to the rafters with boats, boating equipment, dive gear, and fishing necessities, as well as with people giving demonstrations and various seminars. Now, I’m no stranger to tradeshows and their giveaways (after all, Gossett Marketing is a distributor of those types of items), but never in my life have I ever seen or received quite so many handouts! Here is a rundown of some of what I spotted being given to attendees: 1 boat tote, 1 first aid kit, 1 t-shirt, 1 flashlight, 1 pair of sunglasses, 2 bottles of sunscreen, 2 glasses straps, 2 glasses cases, 3 reusable grocery bags, 5 foam visors, tons of candy, and too many floating key chains to count! All of the items featured a company’s logo and they were all being given out to anyone who wanted them, which is great for the givers’ brand exposure.

One thing that struck me, though, was the overabundance of the aforementioned floating key chains. I didn’t do any sort of official research, but it felt like at least 25% of the booths were giving them away. I get it: they’re useful if you’re a boater. But if I was one of the exhibitors, I certainly would not have chosen to hand them out – I would have figured (correctly) that too many of my competitors would be giving the same thing and when that happens any promotional product is going to lose its marketing impact. Personally, I would have given out a custom item, which can be surprisingly inexpensive and gets you more bang for your buck!

How Awards are Effective Marketing Tools

trophies Over the weekend I had lunch with some friends at Coral Reef Yacht Club, which is just down the road from Gossett Marketing in Coconut Grove. It’s a fun place to spend the afternoon sailing, swimming, or just chowing down on some of South Florida’s best conch fritters. But the day that we went was special because Coral Reef was hosting a boat race. Not the regatta I was expecting, though; rather, the children of club members had crafted their own vessels out of cardboard and duct tape and raced them back and forth across the pool! I must say, the boats actually floated and the little skippers managed to steer them quite ably – it was an impressive “nautical” display.

I know the kids had a great time sailing their little ships, and I think that having a wild afternoon competing in the pool would have been prize enough for most of them, but I loved the fact that the club gave trophies to all of the participants. The kiddos who braved the pool will certainly display their boating awards for years to come, and that does give the Coral Reef name some exposure. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a plaque or a trophy, I always read the inscription. Perhaps somewhere along the line a friend will admire one of the kids’ awards and ask about the club, which could spark conversations about fond childhood memories spent in sailing camp on Biscayne Bay. That, in turn, could ultimately inspire someone to inquire about becoming a member.

Awards, even if they are for silly contests, are items that people keep forever. They might not display them, but everyone has a box of trophies that they move with them from place to place. Each time they do, they probably look at them, reminisce, and see the name of the sponsor who awarded it to them – that’s a little bit of promotional marketing every time.

So take a cue from Coral Reef and give awards when you can. Maybe you have a company picnic that includes games – why not hand out a trophy to the overall winner? Or if someone meets her sales goal, have a plaque made: she’ll keep it in her office indefinitely. People love to get awards, and giving them allows you to do subtle promotional marketing for the foreseeable future.

And if you’ve never seen a cardboard and duct tape boat race, click on this YouTube video!

How Miami Keeps Businesses Booming During Slow Months

Miami Spice

Our company, Gossett Marketing, is located in Coconut Grove, Florida – a funky neighborhood in Miami. We all love our quirky slice of paradise, but I cannot tell a lie, it’s pretty darn miserable down here in the summer. Between tropical depressions, humidity, and mosquitoes, it’s just not a pleasant place to be from late June until late October (our summers are way too long!). Unfortunately for local industries, brutal summer conditions have a negative impact on business. There are fewer tourists, locals escape as often as possible, and even when we’re in town, everyone seems a little lazy this time of year. Frankly, no one even wants to go out to eat, meaning that restaurants really struggle. Fortunately for them, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau has come up with a great way to entice us to leave our air-conditioned homes – the Miami Spice Program.

Miami Spice is an annual restaurant promotion in which many of our community’s top restaurants participate. They feature special 3-course prixe fixe lunch and dinner menus at extremely-discounted rates. For instance, at BLT Steak on a normal day, an a la carte steak runs about $39, but during Miami Spice an entire 3-course dinner for the same price – that’s clearly a substantial savings over what the same meal would cost during other months. This discounted pricing drives people to dine at restaurants that might otherwise be unaffordable and to go out more often. Perhaps the patrons will enjoy their experience so much that they will continue to return even after the summer ends!

The Miami Spice program has proven so successful that it keeps growing year after year. 2011 saw about 140 restaurants participate, and the organizers expect close to 200 participants this summer. These businesses are clamoring to be a part of Miami Spice to get diners through their doors, to gain word-of-mouth exposure from satisfied patrons, and to get repeat business during the summer and even after. It’s a win-win for everyone because it gets us hot, lazy Miamians out of the house even though it’s sweltering outside, and it keeps business booming during an otherwise-slow time of year. What fabulous marketing!

Scent Marketing – A Subliminal Approach

Scent Marketing Kitten I was reading the “Tourism in the Tropics” section of the Miami Herald when I noticed a piece about the ScentWorld Expo, which is being held at the Gansevoort Hotel on Miami Beach this week. I’d never heard of such an expo, so I did a little bit of research – it is presented by the Scent Marketing Institute, which is a scent marketing group. Pretty neat!

I’ve always heard that the sense of smell is one of our strongest memory triggers, but it never occurred to me that it’s used in marketing. Well, it is! Many companies have created signature scents that represent their brand and with which they fragrance their facilities. For instance, the Gansevoort has a subtle green tea aroma, and Jimmy Choo boutiques has a fresh scent to put their customers at ease, make them linger longer, and hopefully purchase an expensive pair of heels. After visiting either the aforementioned hotel or boutique, individuals who experience their scents later will connect them to either place – hopefully this will bring back memories a relaxing vacation or a worthwhile splurge, and thus making them both happy and mindful of either brand. That’s almost subliminal marketing!

If Gossett Marketing had a scent, I’d think it would be something tropical and bright, a reflection of our Coconut Grove location and the energetic attitude displayed by our team. What would yours be?

Promos to Save Calories & Cash

Built Lunch Totes Here’s something you might not know about Gossett Marketing – at one point everyone here was on Weight Watchers! The program was great and we all managed to slim down, and while we’re not all on it any longer, some of the healthy habits that it taught us have stuck. One such habit is that we all still bring our lunches to work. It’s an easy way to control the contents (read: calories) of our midday meals, and as an added bonus we’ve all found that it saves money too! Bringing you lunch to work is a growing trend everywhere – not just here in Coconut Grove – so why not give out logoed lunch items to your customers? That way, as they cart their meals to and from their offices, they will be doing your marketing for you. Here are some suggestions:

  • Small insulated coolers: I know that this is an obvious item, but it’s so practical that it’s bound to be used. These lunch totes can be as inexpensive as $2.00 or as much as $20.00+, some have shoulder straps, others are stylish neoprene. No matter your budget or style, though, most have a large imprint area to showcase your logo. Think about how many people you’ve seen carrying these items in the subway, in a parking garage, or through the lobby of a building – if their coolers are logoed, then everyone in those crowded areas can potentially see that imprint. Instant marketing!
  • Reusable silverware: now that so many people are making an effort to “go green” they prefer not to use disposable forks and knives; however, most don’t want to schlep their dinner flatware back and forth to the office. A great solution is to provide them with a reusable set. When they pull it out in the break room, their coworkers can see your logo.
  • Sandwich or Salad Containers: two easy options when you pack your lunch are sandwiches or salads, but neither is ideal to pack. If you put a sandwich in a plastic baggie, then it might get smooshed, and if you bring a salad, how do you transport your dressing? Well, these items will take care of those problems. Sandwich containers are rigid and many have built-in ice packs to keep your lunch fresh. Salad containers are unique because they have special compartments for your dressing – that way your lettuce doesn’t get soggy because it’s been sitting in your ranch all day! Again, these can be imprinted with your company’s logo, which will be display when the employee who received it opens them on a park bench.

Small changes, like bringing your lunch with you to work, can make a big difference in both weight loss and budgeting, and people are starting to realize that. So save your customers some calories and some cash by providing them with logoed lunchtime items!

Social Media Marketing for a Coconut Grove Event

Great Taste of the Grove Over the weekend I attended an event called The Great Taste of the Grove – a festival featuring some of Coconut Grove’s best restaurants, as well as music, kiddie rides, and drinks. This weekend marked the event’s 22nd anniversary and it was exceedingly well-attended, but oddly enough, it was the first time I’d ever been or even really heard of it – and I’m a Miami native!

First, let me backtrack a little bit. If you’re not familiar with South Florida, then you don’t know that Coconut Grove is a part of the City of Miami. It has a small downtown area filled with bars and restaurants, there are also multiple schools, businesses (including Gossett Marketing), and many residential areas scattered throughout The Grove. It has a great – if quirky – neighborhood feel, and most Grove-ites love living there and probably wouldn’t consider moving to nearby Key Biscayne or Coral Gables if you paid them!

Now back to the festival: as you can probably deduct by the festival’s name, The Great Taste of the Grove is held in Coconut Grove, and, well, that’s pretty much the only place where it’s advertised. I’m sure that most of the folks who live in the area had driven by the banner announcing the event, but I don’t live in the Grove and I don’t pass by the signage on my way to work, so I had no idea! That is, until I got a Dealtificate.com e-mail blast offering a great package – $30.00 for admission for two plus $50.00 worth of drink tickets for the event. Even though I had no clue what to expect, I couldn’t pass up that kind of bargain on something that sounded like it would be fun, so I bought the deal!

When we got to the event, we were given wristbands to wear – they gave us access to a shady tent where we could escape the Miami sun. I found that the majority of other attendees were also wearing wristbands, indicating that they too had purchased the deal online. Of the people I spoke to with the bands, the majority said that they – like me – were first-time attendees who hadn’t heard of The Great Taste of the Grove prior to getting that e-mail notification.

Now, I didn’t do any real research or conduct any formal interviews, but I have to believe that the Dealtificate.com e-mail boosted attendance at this year’s Great Taste of the Grove. It surely reached a much broader audience than a few signs stretching across South Bayshore Drive, and that kind of social media marketing, combined with a genuinely fun event, is sure to drive attendance up which will, in turn, increase word of mouth marketing, and will hopefully make next year’s festival even more successful!

Business Tip: Stop Talking & Typing

Multitasking at work I spend a lot of time on the phone every day, and I’ve found that one thing that drives me crazy is hearing a keyboard clacking on the other end of the line and telltale “mmhmm’s” instead of actual answers to my questions. It makes it obvious that I’m not getting the undivided attention that I feel like I deserve: I’m on the phone a lot during the day, but never for very long with one particular individual, so I’d hope that they’d pay attention to me for 3-5 minutes!

However, I get it. If your office is laid out anything like mine, then when you look straight ahead you are gazing at your computer monitor. And if you are anything like me, then that computer always has its e-mail open. That’s a dangerous combination – your default position literally has you staring at your computer screen as e-mails pour in all day, every day. Personally, I have a hard time ignoring e-mail inquiries as they stream in because if I do so, then I know I will have more work to complete later.

While I understand the temptation to answer e-mails while I’m on the telephone, I try my hardest to avoid doing so. I do this for a variety of reasons, one of which is the good, old-fashioned Golden Rule – do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. If it bothers me so much to hear other people typing and talking, then I sure shouldn’t do the same to them! Aside from that, I spend a lot of time forming relationships with the people that I call. Maybe I’ve met them at a chamber of commerce event and we’re trying to start doing business together, or perhaps they’re an old customer who has purchased promotional marketing items from Gossett Marketing for years – people who could potentially spend money with our company definitely deserve my full attention because without them, I’d be out of a job! Not to mention the fact that if I’ve spent weeks, months, or even years building a relationship, then I don’t want to screw it up by showing poor telephone etiquette – doing so would be a waste of my time and that of my customer or associate.

So what do I do to avoid the siren song of my e-mail when I’m on the phone? It’s so simple that you’re going to think it’s dumb, but I promise you it really works. Ready for it? I give my full and undivided attention when I’m on the phone by simply turning my chair around! Having my back to the computer takes my mind off of my e-mail, lets me look at the pretty Coconut Grove foliage that I’d otherwise ignore, and have a better, more productive telephone call! I’ve stopped multitasking when I’m on the phone and you know what? My e-mail doesn’t take me all that long to read once I hang up.

Check out this YouTube video, showing you exactly what not to do while on the phone!

Stay Warm & Promote Your Company

Polar Bears One of Gossett Marketing’s top-selling items is logoed fleece jackets, which probably seems pretty strange if you know that we’re located in Coconut Grove, Florida. The nice thing about these jackets, though, is that they work in any climate – cold north to the Sunshine State!

Let’s start with the obvious: fleece jackets are warm so they are excellent for colder regions. On chilly days, the fact that they are outerwear gives them more impact than something like a t-shirt, which would just serve as a base layer and not necessarily give your company name any exposure. Fleece jackets embroidered with your company’s logo make the wearer into your walking billboard because, as the top layer, they are highly visible. If you are located in a cooler climate, fleece jackets are the way to go. Give them to your employees and customers to wear around town – they’ll do your marketing for you!

As I said, we sell a lot of fleece jackets – many to local companies. Obviously, Miami is not a cold climate, so this seems strange, but it really is not. You see, it is so warm here that we tend to over-air condition our office buildings. That being the case, many of the customers who purchase fleeces leave them on the back of their desk chairs and throw them on when they get to work. They are a great substitute for a cardigan because they don’t stretch out and lose their shape! Also, people down here don’t necessarily have a lot of warm clothes, so on those rare cold days, they will reach for the warmest thing in their closet – which might very well be a fleece that is embroidered with your company’s logo!

Like all promotional products, I recommend giving away jackets that people will actually wear. We have some wonderful, inexpensive pieces from Port Authority that are always popular. Or you can harness the power of a brand name and give embroidered Columbia jackets. I’ve said it once and I will say it again – people always use the brand name promotional giveaways!

Regardless as to where you are or whether you go with a generic or brand name, your company can certainly use fleece jackets – they’re sure to give your logo extra exposure and your marketing a nice boost!

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