Eating Out – A Marketing Strategy

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Marketing your business is a contact sport which necessitates you being out of your office, on a regular basis, rubbing shoulders with clients, referrers and prospective clients.

There is no better method of implementing this strategy than taking a guest out for lunch. Of course I don’t mean every lunchtime but maybe once a month it’s time to venture into the outside world.

Before you begin to enjoy this pursuit to the extent that you invite luncheon guests with whom you only have a vague relationship, at best, it’s prudent to consider a few ground rules:

Inexpensive Marketing

This strategy need not be a wildly expensive one – there is no need to take your guest to a really pricey restaurant. At the same time, while McDonalds can be ideal for a quick family meal, it probably doesn’t offer the ambience which you are seeking and may say something to your guest about the way you operate your business.

Only Market to Those Likely to Buy

Be selective with the guests you invite to lunch. This might seem simple, but many invite those to lunch that are unlikely to make a purchase. They should be either existing or potential clients and existing and potential referrers. A luncheon is an excellent way to solidify the relationship, which will, needless to say, lead to more business.

Keep Existing Clients By Showing Interest In Them

People like to do business with friends. Taking a client to lunch and showing interest in them in a casual atmosphere creates a feel of friendship as long as you don’t push the sale too hard. If you are not comfortable with small talk, it’s time to become comfortable as the luncheon should not represent 100% business and offers a perfect opportunity to get to know your guest on a personal basis. After the lunch make sure to write down what you learned about your contact so that you’ll remember more about him or her. If you hear that a client’s son is in a ball league, ask how he is doing the next time you meet. Friends remember that kind of thing. Be seen as a friend, not a business acquaintance.

Keep Clients Sober and Don’t Drain Your Wallet

A juice, soft drink or mineral water is the correct luncheon beverage. Liquor should be avoided at all costs as it doesn’t create the right impression and could create problems later in the day. Also, just a couple of drinks can greatly increase the cost of the lunch and just make it too costly to be useful.

Dress Appropriately for the Situation

While considering first impressions, dress is also an important factor. You need to dress in a manner that is appropriate for the restaurant at lunchtime. You shouldn’t overlook the fact that you will see a range of other contacts at the restaurant, many of whom you will have the opportunity to speak to.

Turn Prospects Into Clients

If you are lunching with someone you don’t know well you will, no doubt, have the chance to introduce your ’30 second networking commercial into the conversation and therefore it makes sense to rehearse it before leaving for the luncheon.

To Sum It Up

Taking a client or a prospective client out to lunch is a great way to pitch your services in a casual atmosphere without costing too much. Because both you and your client are in neutral territory, it is one of the most non-threatening venues for introducing your services to potential clients. If you give your pitch at their office, they feel in power. At a restaurant, clients feel more at ease and you will get a better chance to sell yourself effectively.

More Marketing Tips

Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches a step-by-step approach to learning how to market your own successful Accounting and Bookkeeping service.

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