What marketing and sales professionals can learn from the Slow Food Movement
Have you seen the commercials for McDonalds that portray the fresh produce and grains? These advertisements are part of a well-executed marketing strategy to boost brand positioning. Think about it: how many of us associate McDonalds with “real” food vs. a convenient quick stop to suppress the immediate hunger pains? Precisely. That’s what the commercials are aimed to address and are in response to the “slow food” trend.
If you’re not familiar with it, “slow food” is a movement to link the pleasure of food with the community and environment from which it comes. In other words—it’s a movement to slow down society, strip away the complexities of food production, and reconnect consumers with the actual ingredients that provide their daily sustenance. Savor what you eat, make it real.
Hungry marketing and sales professionals take note: there’s a lesson for you in here as well. It’s called “Slow Marketing”, which I’ll define as stripping away the corporate façade and allowing your customers to get to know the person behind the brand. It’s not really a new concept, but one that will impact your business production and bottom line. If you’re eager for new business, here are 3 ways you can get back to slow marketing basics:
You have a lot to offer your clients. You can answer their product related questions, be a professional sounding board, a trusted resource, a go-to person. You can guide them through their business decisions. You. Not your company, not your brand, YOU. Remember, people buy from people, not companies. Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your marketing efforts. Strip away the corporate jargon and allow your customers to get to know WHO makes up that brand.
To start, fine tune your unique value proposition- or should I say “You-nique” value proposition—you know, the defining blurb you rattle off at cocktail parties and business mixers. For example, if you are a financial services professional, instead of responding to questions about you/your company as, “We’re a full service agency offering personal financial, estate planning and business strategy advisement” how about: “I help executives develop investment strategies to protect their personal finances.” Hmmm. Interesting. Now you’ve captured my attention on how YOU can help ME. You made it personal and I responded. Be you.
The premise behind the slow food movement is reconnecting with the ingredient source. So is slow marketing. Reconnect with your community, your customer base. Put yourself out there. In person AND online.
Whenever I meet a new business acquaintance at an event, if it’s someone I want to stay in contact with, I follow up by connecting on LinkedIn. For personal contacts, I use Facebook. If you aren’t on the major social networks, you are missing key business-building opportunities! Like it or not, this is how people connect and communicate today. Build your profile, use that stack of business cards to add connections, and then maintain your network presence. Again, it’s about drawing attention to the person behind the brand. Because when you become part of my network, it helps me see beyond your corporate name and focuses my attention on the individual with whom I’ll award my business and trust. Help me see you the person, not just your brand. Be connected.
OK, so you’ve stripped away the corporate jargon, you’ve connected to your community, now what? Now you promote the merits of the ingredient…YOU! You offer quality service and have helped real people…isn’t it only natural then to publicize this-? The easiest way to accomplish: ask your customers to write you a recommendation for your LinkedIn profile. Don’t make it complicated, a mere 2-3 sentences of the services you provided and how you helped them will suffice. Testimonials not only give you, the person behind the brand, credibility, but also ease the anxiety of potential clients researching you. Plus, when your contacts write you a recommendation on LinkedIn, their praises are publicized to their connections, giving YOU prime viral exposure!
I’m not a granola head or into organic food, but I love what the food industry is doing with the slow food movement. The concept of getting back to the basics and allowing the core ingredients to shine makes so much sense. For food and for sales professionals. Remember: be you. Be connected. Let yourself shine. And that, my friends, is a recipe for business success.