How are customers like E.F. Hutton?

How much does your brand stand out?

Does your brand’s marketing start a conversation or do you preach to your customers? Do you ask them what they think, what they want and what they like? Do you offer them a forum where they can share their thoughts with you? When they speak, do you listen? And conversely, when you speak to they pay attention?

Vintage commercial screen image from EF Hutton tv ad.

There’s a classic commercial campaign for EF Hutton that dramatically makes the point.  Two individuals are discussing investments. One asks the other what his broker advises and when the response is, “Well, my broker is EF Hutton…and EF Hutton says,” the entire room (or plane of passengers in this instance) stops, leans out to hear what it is that EF Hutton advises. The ad’s voice over pronounces,  “When E.F. Hutton talks…people listen.” All the surrounding people in each ad stop, turn, or come closer to hear what pearls of wisdom are about to be spilled. It ought to be the case for your firm as well. Our reputations ought to be so trusted, so well respected that when people speak the name of our business, people stop, turn and pay attention.

Why to do you want to be an authority?

Developing authority so you and your firm are considered sources for information is a critical component of your public relations and marketing activity. When you and your team are authorities on topics, you may serve as sources to help the news media and to position the brand in a manner that is distinctive. Every company has a niche. It is up to you to comprehend what makes your services or good better than your competitors. When setting your brand apart, these advantages must be constantly called out so that potential customers pay attention and recall them when they have a need for the services you provide. However, besides pointing out your differences and distinctiveness, you also need to listen to your customers.

Why do you want to listen to your customers?

Ignoring your customers’ point of view is to ignore the best source of marketing research you can have. In order to develop authority, one must listen to one’s customers. Paying attention to their needs, wants, objections and issues informs the way you provide services, develop products and solve issues. If you’re not listening to your customers, you’re missing a key opportunity to understand what they expect.

Find out how to grow from listening to your customers.

Why I Do Not Go to Networking Events

I hate networking events

I’m going to risk the ire of every business blogger and entrepreneur I know (and probably lots I don’t know but might just come to know because of this post.)

I hate networking events, organizations and gatherings that tout networking as a benefit or sole reason for their existence.

My name is trouble at networking events

Now, I do not hate people, quite conversely, I enjoy people. One of the best hours one can spend is interacting with another human being, learning how they view life and how they have gotten where they are. Just hearing their story.

Networking events and all the advice on how to prepare for one, how to participate in them and how to follow up after them are just bunk.

Events where the focus is networking are fake

Take a bunch of business people and toss them in a room, give them a plastic glass of sweet tea or wine, and a cube of cheese and a HELLO MY NAME IS stick-on name tag and you’ve got a networking event. People are there (no matter how much they prepare) to get your business card and give you theirs. They rarely want to have substantial conversation or tell you their story, and if you do start in on an in-depth conversation, you get interrupted by someone else who wants to hand you their business card. And then what do you do with all those 3.5 x 2 inch pieces of paper anyway?

When what you crave is the backstory of someone’s life, motivations and worldview, networking events don’t cut it.

Making connections

Host a celebration for friends and you’ve got a party, which is actually a networking event, but centered around fun, not networking. Volunteer to teach a class, cook soup in the soup kitchen or serve on a board of an organization and you’ll have new connections.

A few months ago a friend had a few of her new friends over to her house for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. While there, I met several people and learned how they came to choose Charleston as their home. In several cases, there were business intersections and in the natural course of conversation, we shared business cards. And discussed opportunities to work together. And none of it happened with a nametag or a fake intent to network.

If you want to make real connections which lead to an opportunity to do business together, be social. Go to parties, concerts, plays, art openings. Meet people. But for heaven’s sake don’t go to networking events.