Flying to Philadelphia this past week I am struck by how often marketeers interrupt my day. The tray tables have ads, the flight magazine is almost all advertisements, and now I have to listen to the flight attendant tell me about the great opportunity I have to get a $100 annual fee credit card if I will just fill out the form as they pass through the isle.
The difference between old school marketing and educational marketing is in the message content, format, timing, and location. Old school marketing interrupts someone’s day. It shows up in the middle of a great movie, places pages between the start and finish of an article you’re reading, or stands in the middle of a car dealer’s lot in the form of a giant inflatable gorilla. Who likes this stuff? Getting an unexpected call in the middle of dinner from a credit card company, or having a lawn care company representative call your cell phone on Sunday afternoon, while you are spending time with your family, is not the way to attract new clients.
However, being invited to speak at a technology conference, and showing up with educational material vs. a product pitch, will be well received. I remember well the day I was asked to speak at an educator’s conference in Greensboro, NC. Attendees from the state’s major universities included technical support, IT managers, and CIOs. My topic was security, but rather than showing up with a firewall pitch, I put together a talk on industry trends and how universities might be at risk. With giving systems and administrative applications needed to run the business side of a school, sitting on networks shared by students downloading and sharing all kinds of pirated music and video files, and teachers hosting student projects while at the same time accessing grading systems, this was a recipe for disaster. At the time, people hadn’t really thought through segmentation, and vLans (virtual local area networks) hadn’t yet been invented. By taking my audience through traditional network designs, evolving risks, and recommendations on how to reduce risk, my audience now had concrete information on how to approach IT.
The results spoke for themselves. Several organizations arranged follow up meetings with our company and we landed several very large assessment deals. Not only did these go on to the remediation stage; the referrals fueled new opportunities in state universities all over the state. Since these schools weren’t competing, the network of IT managers gave us entrance into numerous new opportunities without having to go through the cold-calling process. This is network selling and doesn’t eat into anyone’s personal time.
© 2011, David Stelzl