SCORE: Look to your dog for marketing strategies

Michael Katz, founder of the Blue Penguin Content Club

By this time, you know I really believe in having good content in your business websites, emails, blogs and posts. So, I was looking at business folks who share this value with me. One such person is Michael Katz, who is the founder of the Blue Penguin Content Club, a membership site for solos and freelancers with an interest in creating great content.

I learned a great lesson from Katz when he posted on the topic of "Marketing Tips I learned From My Dog." It is so good that I want to share some of the ideas.

"I guess I'm really not sure how smart our dog, Abbie, is," Katz said. "I mean, of course, I'd like to believe she's the canine Einstein (a great name for a rock band, by the way). But really, how can you tell? It's not like you can give her some kind of doggie IQ test (I'm quite certain she can't even hold a No. 2 pencil). I suppose I could base it on her behavior. But even then, it's hard to reach a definitive conclusion."

He continues this homie narrative "one minute she'll be showing off her smarts by slowly tapping the back door to indicate her interest in going outside. But then 10 minutes later, I'll stand there and watch as she insists on eating some of the horse poop she just found on the trail in the back woods."

But Katz says "she is smart enough to have figured out one thing, however: If you want food, don't bother waiting by your food dish."


So here is the point he makes, "We feed Abbie twice a day: Once in the morning and once at lunchtime, around 12:30. By noon, if you happen to be in the house, Abbie will begin harassing you. Subtly at first -- looking sideways at you, following you around, pushing on you, etc. As 12:30 approaches though, and if you still haven't fed her, she'll be in your face like a vote-hungry politician in late October. The point is, even though she knows that the food ultimately arrives in her bowl, she looks to people -- not the bowl itself -- to bring the meal. She understands the relation between cause and effect."

So now think about this. I have seen it when I work with small businesses. Many CEOs in search of clients pay way too much attention to the bowl (i.e., prospects) and not nearly enough attention to the people who keep it filled (i.e., their existing relationships).

It seems like it makes sense to focus on prospects. After all, prospects become clients, and clients are the ones who write the checks. But I remind you there's an earlier step, a step which if focused on consistently and thoroughly, keeps the prospect/client/money machine turning. It's called "staying in front of the people you know." Not "people who are likely to buy today" (or even ever).

Katz is talking about a much larger group -- "people you know." The 500 or so co-members of the human race whom you've gotten to know in the course of your professional and personal life … and that you may routinely ignore in your thoughts about marketing:

• The people who send you an email with a quick question that you don't bother answering (you're too busy chasing prospects).

• The people who publish a newsletter with something useful or intriguing that you don't bother replying to with a comment (you're too busy chasing prospects).

• The people you're connected with on LinkedIn who mention they just got a new job and whom you ignore (you're too busy chasing prospects).

"Here's the bottom line," Katz said. "I know you've got a lot going on every day. And so it may seem more efficient to prioritize your marketing efforts and go where the business is.The problem with this narrow, nothing-but-the-final-step-in-the-process focus is that it's the business development equivalent of standing by an empty dog-food dish."


It ignores the fact it's the people you already know -- the ones who move along the continuum from loose acquaintance to colleague to friend to fan -- who ultimately buy from you and/or send others your way.

"Take it from Abbie: If you want to eat on time every day, step back from the food bowl and go find the people with the ability to fill it," Katz said.

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