Give Chance A Chance

I play basketball every Monday night, in my town’s middle school gym. It’s a great bunch of guys, and with the average age hovering around 40 — and with games that typically involve more braces, bandages, pads and miscellaneous prosthetic equipment than would be required to rebuild the Six Million Dollar Man — it’s very relaxed.

We don’t even pick who plays with whom — we just put our names on a big sheet of paper and when your name comes up, it’s your turn to play. Because it’s completely random however, the teams aren’t always evenly balanced, in size or in skill.

Such was the case last week when I looked around at the start of the game and realized that I — all six feet (maybe), 165 pounds of me — was the “big man” on our team. I have to admit that I was kind of enjoying this fact, until I realized that this meant I’d be matching up against the other team’s big man.

This was a problem. Because when I looked down at the other end of the court, I saw that my opponent was a guy who I conservatively estimated to be about 9 feet tall(that’s approximately 300 meters for those of you on the metric system). He was so large in fact, that I couldn’t help myself. I walked right up to him and said, “Just so I can tell my wife later, exactly how much do you weigh?” He peered down at me and said, “Two-Eighty-Five.” (Roughly the equivalent of my entire immediate family.)

At this point of course, I’d like to tell you how despite my extreme size disadvantage, and through the application of a little known E-Newsletter strategy, I managed to completely shut him down. Unfortunately, this was not the case — I felt as if I were playing defense against a small country, and he walked right over me several times.

What I do want to point out however, is that this kind of extreme mismatch rarely happens. Despite the sheer randomness with which the teams are assembled each week, the sides are typically very even, and the games are almost always quite close. Most of the time, most of the days, randomness works.

Frankly, I enjoy this aspect of our games. I’m the kind of person who will happily trade the precision of carefully chosen sides for the ease of just walking out there and seeing what happens — I like taking my chances. Relationship marketing and E-Newsletters are also inherently random activities. Here too, that’s one of the things I like about them.

You however, may feel differently. When it comes to using an E-Newsletter to market your business, you may find yourself wishing there were a less ambiguous relationship between cause and effect. If so, today’s newsletter is dedicated to you.

First the bad news: I can’t change what is. Relationships develop and behave in quirky, unpredictable ways, and to the extent you put your resources and effort behind relationship-based approaches (e.g. staging customer events, sending thank you gifts, publishing newsletters, etc. ) you’re at the mercy of chance.

Now the good news: It absolutely works. Staying in touch with people you know; thanking people who do business with you; giving away useful information with no strings attached —whatever you can do to build and maintain relationships with other people— is hands down the most effective marketing strategy on the planet. I’d stake my life on it — and in fact I have, since I don’t do anything to market my business other than these kinds of things.

It does however, require a certain amount of patience and a willingness to not always know when the results will arrive.

And so, as we head out together on another year of relationship marketing success, I encourage you to give the left side of your brain a rest and confidently implement a handful of hard to track, messy to test, difficult to justify, inspired, quirky actions that strengthen your relationships with customers and prospects.

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