Skid Row

(Listen to this post, here.)

Here in New England, our first significant snowfall of the season occurred this past weekend. It’s always kind of special, even a little bit fun. 

It’s also, for my money, the single most dangerous day of the year to be out on the road driving. 

Not because November snow is any different than February snow. 

Rather, it’s because with each new snow season, there is a portion of the population that has never driven in these conditions:

There are the people who moved here since last winter. 

There are the people who bought their first vehicle. 

There are the 16-year-olds who have been driving for all of six months, and who assume that an exhaustive knowledge of how to Tweety-Gram an Insta-Whatever somehow correlates with winter driving skills. 

The point is, it’s not the conditions that make driving in the first snow unusually dangerous … it’s all the new people behind the wheel. 

Likewise, when it comes to marketing your professional service business, effectiveness is not simply about which tools to use and how best to use them…

… the variable that matters most is the people themselves. 

Consider this example… 

When my wife, Linda, sends me an email, there’s an excellent chance I’m going to open it. 

It doesn’t matter what time of day she sends it, what the subject line says, whether or not she includes images, how well it’s written, or any of the other factors that constitute “email marketing best practices.” 

The strength of our relationship supersedes (SAT word!) any of these other variables. If I know it’s from her (and I’m not deliberately hiding, not that I have ever done that), I’m going to open it. 

On the flip side, no matter how well constructed an email from a stranger may be, I’m more than likely to delete it unopened. 

Does that mean best practices don’t matter? 

No. It’s just that their ability to move the needle is tiny; it occurs within a very narrow window. 

Which is why when I consider which tactics to use in the marketing of my own professional service business, I evaluate them through the filter of “relationship”: 

Newsletters, in-person networking, casual emails, coffee dates, LinkedIn … these are all examples of tactics that take advantage of and enhance connections with people I already know. 

Twitter, Instagram, Google search, book publishing, public speaking and most traditional advertising, on the other hand, do not. In each of these cases, the strangers and the friends are treated the same. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do things in the latter category – I do many of them too. 

I’m simply suggesting that until you’ve exhausted the former, you’re working much harder to get the same results. 

Here’s the bottom line. If you agree that people you know and stay in touch with are more likely to notice you, talk to you, listen to you, remember you, refer you and hire you (and if you don’t, you’re probably reading the wrong newsletter), doesn’t it makes sense to look to these people first – and the tactics that reach them most effectively – when marketing your business? 

Evaluate your marketing tactics through the relationship filter and you’ll spend less time spinning your (snow-covered) wheels.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever Tweety-Grammed an Insta-Whatever? Send pictures.
  2. What’s your number one snow-driving tip for newbies?
  3. Describe your favorite relationship-building marketing tactic.

If you liked this article you’ll love the next one (I’ve been holding back on the good ones until you subscribe). Click here to sign up for future posts.

19 thoughts on “Skid Row

  1. Long-time reader Dot

    Michael, if the face in that photo was looking in my bedroom window, I’d agree it’s creepy. If I saw it across my service desk at work I’d say it looks friendly and ready to engage in an intelligent conversation. Keep your excellent advice coming and good luck getting a photo that pleases everybody!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thank you, Dot! I think my wife is more concerned about that face in the photo having made its way inside the bedroom.

  2. Bob Wakitsch

    Hey Michael,

    I just wrote a book for our dentist clients called “Creating Unbreakable Bonds with Your Patients.” It’s relationship-building marketing about relationship-building marketing.

    By the way, I recently signed up on AWAI for copywriting and I read your book, “It Sure Beats Working.” Loved it! You often make me laugh out loud. Thanks.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Love the dentist-patient idea. Mine have always been straight clinical relationships (which is probably why I feel no particular connection with or loyalty to any of them).

  3. Cass Erickson

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for your creative wisdom!
    2. Take it slow and give yourself plenty of room to spin around.
    3. I like in-person marketing events where people gather around a subject of common interest. In my case, this would be a meeting having to do with the environment.
    Happy Holidays!!

  4. Kitty Love

    I give free readings from the oracle cards I’m launching on Kickstarter soon.

    These cards are very intimate and I notice people are more willing to give me their email address AFTER a reading.

  5. Michael Hume

    What happened to the awesome music included with The Likeable Expert Gazette? I was looking forward to a seasonal gem… possibly something new, original, that most folks haven’t heard. Yet. 🙂

  6. Gina Longo

    1) Yep, all of the above. I loathe social media, but I’m afraid it’s a necessity if I want to get the word out. {rolls eyes}
    2) Four-wheel drive won’t help on slick roads if none of the tires can grip.
    3) Email. I don’t love going to in-person events… having to be “on” all the time wears me out.

  7. Laura Foley

    My 17-year-old son swears that his years of playing Forza has made him an excellent driver. This might explain why when he went out last Monday to “get snow driving experience” he plowed into a snowbank to avoid a perceived imminent collision with a truck. Problem is, real-life snowbanks are much harder than the pixels in his game. A couple of hundred bucks later, his car was OK to drive once more. In my book, that was a great driving experience, since it taught him a lot.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Scary, but I agree, a few minor driving problems are a good lesson. (Probably for life overall, too!)

  8. Stephanie Patterson

    I’m new to the newsletter, but I’m impressed with what a friendly, welcoming bunch you all are!

    1. Like Gina, I’m not a huge fan of social media. I lurk on Facebook, but that’s about it.
    2. I just figured out the best snow driving tip a few weeks ago: I moved to Florida.
    3. I’m just starting my business, but the best success I’ve had so far building relationships is by word of mouth – talking to my friends and associates, who in turn tell theirs, and so on.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *