There is something special about sharing a meal. Among other things it removes many of the barriers and disruptions that can occur in an office meeting.
Meeting with clients and prospects over coffee or lunch is one of the most powerful marketing tools available if properly used. I find that there is more time allocated for a visit than in an office setting. The “desk” barrier is removed and usually both parties are more at ease.
Before we look at how to prepare for this type of meeting, let’s look at some numbers. If you work towards accomplishing four meetings a week in 40 out of the 52 weeks of the year, you have an opportunity to tell your story to 160 people. Look at your calendar for the past year. How many one on one leisurely meetings have you had with prospective clients? I believe that your ability to get a future client can best be accomplished in a private meeting.
There are many opportunities to meet people socially, at networking meetings, civic organizations business groups, etc. At most of these meetings there is usually just enough time to exchange a few words and a business card. The next move is yours. Pick up the phone and call. One of my opening statements is a simple, “I would like to find out more about you and your company. What is your availability for lunch (coffee) in the next few days?” In most cases, I set an appointment with that call. Yes, I refer to where we met and then adjust my comments to what my prospect says.
In preparation for my “meal meeting” I find out as much as possible both about the individual and the company he/she represents by using the internet. I keep a luncheon journal in which I jot down a few pertinent facts. This process usually takes me about 15 to 20 minutes and I do it as close to my meeting time as time allows.
“Give and you shall receive” is my motto for my meetings. I have a few standard questions I ask to begin the conversation using the FORD method, Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. From there the conversation can take many directions. I never use these meetings to “sell” my services; my main goal is to develop a relationship. Yes, during our meal I am usually asked about my business and I use my “prepared story” to share about Strategic Duck. After the meeting I send a thank you card (or e-mail) and follow up a few days later to share an idea about how I can help them grow their business. I also ask permission to add them to my confidential, value based, e-newsletter list.
Usually during our meeting a common interest comes up, sports, church, family, vacation homes, civic organizations, charities, etc. These all represent another contact opportunity.
The cost to implement this program is a lot less and a lot more effective than any other type of marketing. What would your bottom line look like if you added 80 to 160 new clients this coming year?
Aim for service and success will follow. Albert Schweitzer
Nick J. Petra CFP “helping you grow your business is our only business©” www.strategicduck.com