Marketing is about the right ask. It is not about selling anything – it is about ensuring the other person understands that you are giving him something that he wants.
The reason I am saying this is that in terms of marketing, many people fall into 2 camps: the first is the pushy camp (market like there’s no tomorrow) and the second is the I-hate-asking camp (I don’t like asking people to buy).
In our years of marketing, we have never pushed anyone to buy from us. I have always been against those crazy marketers who tell everyone to sell, sell and sell. The problem with this is that you often make more enemies than friends. People who see you from a mile away will run the other way!
In our book as well as in our Marketing Mojo classes (there’s the final one happening on 27 November), we believe in playing the long game and educating prospects about our web design services, website packages and marketing workshops. If you are not ready yet for any of our products or services even after we’ve shown you how advantageous it is for your business, it is all right. We can restart the conversation when you are in the right frame of mind.
So today, when I was in one online forum, I came across a marketing question from someone who is intending to organise a conference for the university staff at a top university.
His question went like this:
“The registration fees won’t cover the cost of the conference, so I need to ask university leaders – deans, vice-chancellors, etc. – to be our allies/champions and also for financial support. Even though I know the value of this conference for staff, it is a scary business to ask for money. Since this has never been done and we organizers are doing it in our “spare” time, our watchwords are “Make it Easy, Make it Fun.” Any ideas about how I can make asking for money easy and fun?”
Below is what I wrote back to him.
Have you asked people or organisations outside of the university such as business owners, NGOs and other people who would like to support you and be associated with your university?
Look for businesses that are aligned to what you are offering in your conference. Sometimes the request or ask may be monetary (which is always useful) but it could also be non-monetary (door gifts; sponsorship of specific items that they already produce or sell; printing of banners, posters; sponsorships of catering, etc.). Whether it is a monetary or non-monetary request, do try to frame it through the perspective of the giver/sponsor/donor.
What are they looking for? Publicity? Association with the university? Potential business relationship? Do they get their brands in front of the people that matter?
Can the organising team provide media publicity before, during and after the event? Will there be articles or press releases on the university’s website or FB that they can share out to their own circles?
I used to be afraid of asking when I first started out in my business – I had a feeling that I was intruding upon that person’s life and making it difficult for him or her to say no. But over the years of organising events of my own and with others, I have also realised that we must also give people opportunities to help us in the ways that they can.
I have had sponsors saying, “Inform me the next time you are having an event and we will be happy to help out.” I know I’ve given more than I’ve asked for when this happens.
Always ask yourself, if I sent out this marketing letter, would my prospective sponsor jump at the chance to help me because it’s such a good deal (for him)? Or as in the words of The Godfather, “Make them a deal they can’t refuse!”
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