Earn the Right to have a Conversation with Potential Customers

You’re at dinner with your friends enjoying wine, laughing over funny stories, waiting for your meal. Suddenly a random person comes to sit at your table. They act as if they know you and before you can start a conversation with them, they begin talking about themselves – who they are, where they grew up, what accomplishments they have and why you should listen to them. Who does that? Lots of companies do.

Often times, companies become so focused on beating the competition that they their marketing becomes a constant “beating my chest” type of marketing that boasts how much better they are than their competitors and they overlook the “P” left out in business school, the person.

In today’s information age, consumers are overwhelmed with information that instead of making it about you, you’ve got to first, make it about them. What value will they get from listening to you?

In the industry I’m in, B2B Tech, we’re selling highly complex solutions which requires highly sophisticated conversations. The biggest part of our job as marketers is educating. We are selling cutting edge technology that you cannot see or touch. However, at the end of the day, we are selling to humans. So what is the secret sauce? Well first, I don’t have really any secrets but if I were asked for advice, I would focus on these things.

Make friends

Humans become friends based on commonalities. They speak the same language and share the same interests. To make friends, we’ve got to learn more about the person and discover what it is that you have that can relate to them – this is developing the buyer persona.

Before we begin a marketing campaign, we do the persona research. After we’ve defined whom we want to target, we find those people, buy them some coffee (or tacos if you’re in San Antonio) and talk to them for a couple of hours. Let them own the conversation, you just guide it. What do they value, fear? What annoys them? What is their reputation at work and at home? You need to know all of this before you can develop a message that resonates with them. And make sure you are talking to your target person, not someone who thinks they know your target person.

Get invited into their house

Here’s where I think many marketers miss. After we’ve developed the message and value proposition, we cannot think that by posting to our website, our friends will find it. Remember, these people already have their own lives and daily habits. Our friends are already in their own communities, talking about things they love with people they care about. Go to them – don’t expect them to show up at your door. Find the websites they visit, go to the social networks they’re part of, attend the meet ups they’re at. Go where they are comfortable going.

Bring a gift

Once you get to their community, provide value. This is where content plays a huge role. Educate the audience on what you know about the subjects they care about. Develop interesting, compelling, educational content that is NOT about you. For example, in my industry, we sell hosting. Do you think that I am going to go to the market and talk about SSD hard drives, Gigs of RAM, or firewalls and load balancers? No. If the person cares about their retail site, I am going to talk about the best practices for keeping their shopping cart online so they don’t risk losing revenue. If they care about getting more downloads of their mobile app, I am going to talk about innovations in mobile technologies.

Find a way to be of value to your friends without using your product/service.

Say thank you

Now you have the right to begin talking about your products and services because you now understand the problems they are trying to solve. Give them an offer that is appropriate for them. Customize it to their needs. Don’t be generic. Sometimes you may have four buyer personas where you are selling the exact same thing but you sell it tailored to the needs of the buyer.

What I went over is just the top of the funnel  (Awareness/Consideration). I see many marketers jump directly into Purchase (talking about their product and price) and completely miss the person. There is a whole another strategy once you get into Purchase which I did not cover here.

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Moving to Texas? Why San Antonio is a Good Option.

This post was contributed by Tali Wee of Zillow

From the River Walk to the Alamo, San Antonio has a variety of activities for tourists to explore. However, the city has more to offer than attractions. In addition to culture, art, music, entertainment and restaurants, San Antonio is a practical place to live for those looking for affordable housing and good schools.

Here are four reasons why relocating to San Antonio is a good option.

Strong Home Buying Market

The average asking price for a home in San Antonio is $165,000. Comparatively, average list prices in nearby Austin are much higher at $291,000. Houston and Dallas’ median list prices are elevated at $204,500 and $250,000, respectively. Of these four major cities in the Texas Triangle, San Antonio is the most economical option for relocating.
While San Antonio’s asking prices are the lowest of those four major Texas cities, the market is still on the rise. List prices have increased significantly throughout the past year by 10.7 percent. Assuming the market maintains its momentum, purchasing a home now which appreciates should lead to a profit at resale.

Affordable Rental Properties

Zillow Rental Properties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average Rent (Zillow.com)

Rent prices in San Antonio that average $900 per month reflect a 3.9 percent decrease since 2012.

In comparison, the average rent price in Austin is $1,180, illustrating a 7.3 percent increase since 2012 in the region. Similarly to Austin, Dallas also averages higher rent prices at $1,190 per month and Houston’s average rent is $1,340.

Since a leased property isn’t an investment for the renter, the lower monthly price point in San Antonio saves a prospective resident more money.

School Rankings

San Antonio has 438 primary and secondary schools. Out of those, the city has a total of 56 schools that earn a GreatSchools rating of eight or higher, 10 being the highest possible score.

To compare, Dallas has 385 schools, yet only 13 of those have a GreatSchools rating of eight or above. Out of Houston’s 657 primary and secondary schools, there are 33 schools that rank eight or higher. Only 5 percent of Houston’s schools obtained these high rankings, compared to San Antonio’s impressive 12.7 percent. Although Austin is significantly smaller, the city only has six schools ranking eight or higher, narrowing options for potential movers with school-aged children.

The top three elementary schools in San Antonio are Encino Park, Hardy Oak and Roan Forest Elementary, all with a GreatSchools rating of 10. Jose M. Lopez Middle School, Bush Middle School and Frank Tejeda Middle School all rank the highest in grades six through eight. Travis Early College High School, the Young Women’s Leadership Academy and the School of Science and Technology are all top high school facilities in San Antonio. Test scores, community ratings, reviews and student demographics for K-12 public, private or charter schools can be found on Zillow’s school information database.

Low Commute Time

Compared to the major metropolitan areas in the Texas Triangle, San Antonio ranks number two for lowest average commute time at just 25 minutes.
Austin outranks San Antonio by one minute, with an average commute time of 24 minutes. However, the population in Austin is far lower, which explains why accessibility is somewhat easier. Austin is comprised of about 773,906 people while San Antonio’s population is more than 1.3 million. Dallas has a smaller population than San Antonio (1.2 million), yet a higher commute time of 28 minutes. The largest city in the Texas Triangle is Houston, made up of more than 2 million people, with a much higher commute time averaging 29 minutes.

While any major metro city in Texas is going to have its drawbacks and benefits, affordability and the emphasis on education distinguish San Antonio as an ideal relocation city.

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The Power of Giving

What a wonderful short film that depicts the true power of giving. It serves as a reminder to give not to receive but to just simply give (because we truly care). Our life will unfold in ways that we don’t expect but if we’re always looking for instant fulfillment, we’ll never be fulfilled.

Dinosaurs in the Sky

I took the day off to take my son to the children’s museum. Something I did differently with the birth of my second child was not take full maternity leave so I could still have some ETO to take days off in the middle of the week to spend time with my kids. It has turned out well because I will take a random day off and take my son to do something special. My sister-in-law is a teacher and was on summer vacation so I met her and my brother and their daughter Ella at the New Braunfels Children’s museum. We had a great day of play, followed by an awesome lunch.

It would be about a 30 minute drive home so I was just cruising with some music and Jacob was just staring out the window. I figured he would fall asleep since he played pretty hard that morning. As we were driving down the highway, I heard him say something so I turned down the radio. He said, “look mommy a dinosaur.” I was looking around us to see what he was talking about. Whenever we drive past the Witte Museum, he’ll notice the dinosaur statue in the front (because they’re having their dinosaur exhibit) and he always catches it. But we were not near the Witte museum, and I could not see a dinosaur. I kept saying, “where?” And he said, “right there” and I looked at him in the rear view mirror and saw that he was pointing to the sky. I knew then what he was talking about. Some clouds made the formation of what he saw as a dinosaur. It brought back so many memories. Memories as a child looking up into the sky and seeing another world of creatures.

Memories of counting the stars at night.
Memories of catching fireflies in a jar.
Memories of packing “survival bags” and heading out into the backyard for the day.

And it got me thinking. My son is only 2 and we do have the iPad mini and my husband and I both have iPhones that we let him play with. If I had given him my iPhone on our way home, would he have seen the dinosaur in the sky? Probably not. Then I thought, why do we let him play on our devices anyways? Technology is a huge part of our lives and I want my children to know how to use technology but I don’t want it to replace the opportunity for them to imagine and create with only what the Earth has provided them. It goes back to the old saying, “when I was kid, we only had rocks and sticks.” Everyone has their own opinions and we will do what we believe is right for our own families. I do think there has to be a balance. I want my kids to use the devices to learn and play – and it should be a treat. I feel like my husband and I do a good job of this now but I think that if we don’t recognize little moments like this one, we could let it get out of hand and it could become a norm for our kids to always be on a device. I never want to get to a point where we use the device as a tool to pacify them if they are being unruly – that is just me being lazy as a parent.

Going forward I think that I should always ask the question before giving my kids a device to play with, will they miss seeing the dinosaur in the sky?

 

Wise Words from Ashton Kutcher

A friend recently tweeted out a video to Ashton Kutcher’s speech at the  Teen Choice Awards 2013. He was awarded the Ultimate Teen Choice Award and as part of his acceptance speech, he gave 3 life lessons to teens out there (yes, I watched the whole video because it was that good).

I was nodding my head in agreement when I heard his 3 life lessons. Here they are:

Opportunity is hard work.

“I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job.”

And he didn’t always have glamorous jobs. He started doing carpentry work with his dad at 13, then on to washing dishes at a restaurant and then on to sweeping floors at a factory, etc. His point is that the job was never bigger than him and he saw each job as an opportunity for the next one.

Sexy is being smart, generous and thoughtful.

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous;  Everything else is crap, I promise you.”

Yes! This has always been a problem for young females. We are obsessed with who is on the cover of magazines and believe that to be wanted and loved, we have to look that way. If we want to continue to feel empty, then that is fine. But to feel wholesome and confident, we have to be smart, period.

Build a life, don’t live one.

“Everything around us that we call life was made by people that are no smarter than you are. You can build your own life that other people can live in.”

I think this lesson came from the inspiration of working on the new Steve Jobs movie that he will be starring in. Imagination is a wonderful gift that slowly gets smaller and smaller as we grow older because we try to conform to the world around us. I feel that it is my job as a parent to not let that happen to my kids.

Ashton is spot on. It’s easy for our youth to get obsessed with reality TV, leaving them to believe that we are entitled to glamorous lives without working hard.  That isn’t reality and someone with a high profile like Ashton needs to tell them so. Kids need to understand that they have to work to get what they want.

Thanks (Chris) Ashton Kutcher.

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