Everything is Marketing

(Listen to this post, here.)

One of the benefits of being an intergalactically famous email newsletter guru (in addition to the groupies) is the freedom to take a day off whenever you like.

And so, yesterday, that’s exactly what my wife, Linda, and I did.

We put the bikes on the back of the car and headed off to the Norwottuck Rail Trail, which runs between the Massachusetts towns of Northampton and Amherst.

It was a beautiful day, and everything was going exactly as planned. Until (cue scary music) we arrived in Amherst for lunch and I realized that I had left the bike lock back in Northampton.

Not a disaster, certainly. But it meant that instead of strolling leisurely around town for the afternoon, we would have to walk with our bikes wherever we went, and always leave one of us with them to stand watch.

But then, as luck would have it, there was a sign from above.

Literally. Not five minutes after we arrived, I saw a sign for Laughing Dog Bicycles on the storefront above our heads.

At which point, I said to my (between you and me) kinda grumpy, this-is-not-what-I-was-expecting, bike-schlepping wife, “Let’s go buy a lock!”

And so in we walked, with the intention of buying or renting one.

But the friendly young man at Laughing Dog Bicycles wouldn’t have it. “You’re welcome to just leave them here for the afternoon,” he said. And so we did.

Keep in mind that at that point, I would have happily paid $20 (maybe more) for the use of a lock. Clearly, in making his generous offer, our young friend sacrificed some amount of short-term revenue.

But over the longer term (and if you’re not in it for the longer term, you’re reading the wrong newsletter), he made a small investment in the marketing of his business. An investment that has already begun to pay off, since here I am, telling you.

Everything is Marketing

Every once in a while, someone asks me, “How much time do you spend marketing your business?”

I’m always unsure how to respond.

Unlike an activity with discrete, easily trackable instances like, for example, the number of times last week I lost my glasses inside the house (23, if you must know), marketing for a small professional service firm or solo is baked into everything we do, say, and are.

You’re marketing when…
… you answer a quick email question from a stranger.

… you comment positively on someone’s LinkedIn post.

… you pass along a resume from someone you hardly know who just got laid off.

… you don’t charge a client extra for a project that strayed slightly out of scope.

… you buy the just-published book of a colleague.

… you tell two out-of-town strangers whom you will never see again that they can keep their money and leave their bikes for free.

Here’s the bottom line.

If you think “marketing” is something you do once a week on Tuesday afternoons, or when you publish a well thought out post on social media, you’re right.

But that’s only part of it.

You, personally, are your marketing.

And while it’s certainly helpful to show the world your experience, credentials, and capability, if you want people to remember you, talk about you, and tell their friends, it’s the little things you do – or don’t do – every day that move the needle.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What’s the nicest, unexpected thing a business owner ever did for you?
  2. Have you ever schlepped a bike? Explain.
  3. What small, long-term-oriented “marketing” thing do you do regularly for your business?

Share your answers below…

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16 thoughts on “Everything is Marketing

  1. Kathie G

    Great points! I feel better now about all the time I spend doing little things to connect that add up to marketing. And yes, a hugely nostalgic song.

  2. Dana B

    Nice article – good to think about all the small ways I am marketing my business.

    In terms of nice marketing for their business, we were on vacation last week in the Finger Lakes region of NYS which included some wine tasting at several vineyards including the Pleasant Valley Wine Company. We went on a tour which was enjoyed by our group of four adults and two kids. The kids were not interested in staying for the wine tasting portion of the tour but perked up when they were served grape juice, water, and complementary cheese and cracker plates. Our host was a wise man – after getting snacks, the kids were happy to stay longer and the adults enjoyed the tasting and bought a bunch of wine. Check them out if you are ever in the area: https://www.pleasantvalleywine.com/

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      And you were impressed enough that here you are spreading the word! A sure sign of a happy customer.

  3. Mark Heimberg

    Queen’s “Bicycle Race” comes to mind, and is less madness-inducing than that song by Melanie.

  4. Brad Dunsé

    Sounds trivial, It wasn’t. The nicest thing a business owner did for me was consistently make me feel like I was the most important customer he had on the planet. And he meant every word of it too. And, I was a mite on the butt of a flea on a tick on the butt of a dog kind of sized customer. He was awesome.

    I schlepped my foot off the bike pedal a few times as a kid. I’ve got two grown kids, so mustn’t have schlepped too badly.

    The thing I do is keep in touch with my network regularly. Something I picked up from some podcaster Mark, Mick, no wait Michael someone that’s right Michael J “Crocodile Dun… no wait that’s not him. Micheal J. Katz. That’s the guy.

    Oh, and here’s a 70s bike tune equally as unworthy of making an album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIybdrk6kS0

  5. Lindsay Gower

    * Big O Tires got my business forever after I pulled my Subaru Forester in with a slow leak in one tire. I thought I needed a new tire but they explained that that model of front-wheel drive Forester needed all four tires changed together. Yikes! But after they took a look, they said “You picked up a nail, we’ll patch it.” They could have sold me FOUR TIRES, what do I know? But they didn’t. They’ve gotten at least that much busine$$ from me in the years since.
    * As for bikes, I’m trying to remember the last time I even RODE one. I think it was on the Silverado Trail in the Calif Wine Country circa 1980, with friends. What a pleasant day!
    * As a writer, I give my customers lots of free advice. Mostly on how to layout their web content (such as, knock it off with the capital letters and the exclamation points), and the best hierarchies for their web pages. I also give them the extra unbilled hour now and then. But sometimes that’s because I’m having so much fun with the project.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Love that tire story, Lindsay! One of the fastest ways to build trust with a potential client is to tell them they don’t need to hire you.

  6. Terry Matlen

    1. We were looking at new cars. The salesman chatted up my husband- people are typically drawn in because he’s a surgeon and they are fascinated with what it’s like to cut people open- but then he stopped and looked me straight in the eye and said: “tell me about your work.” And he listened and asked all about it. Let me tell you- this is very rare- people tend to hover around my husband and see me as the doctor’s wife, period.

    2. Actually, a bike schlepped me. We were in (on?) Sanibel Island, FL. some years back. I was riding behind my two young daughters, who decided to make a quick stop and turn without telling me. To avoid slamming into them, I slammed on my brakes and like a missile, I flew over the handle bars and landed in a ditch, breaking who knows how many ribs. I ended up walking the bike back to our room.

    3. I often get emails from people around the world asking me who’d I recommend for them to see for their ADHD. If I know of someone or have a name in my database, I’m more than happy to share that info with them.

  7. Alan

    Hi Michael. I when I was inflating my bike tires I put the caps on three rear dasher of the car. Yup… forgot to put ‘em back on. I stopped at Landry’s Bike Shop to buy some new ones. The very helpful clerk told me I really didn’t need them, but went out of his way to find a couple in the repair shop for me… no charge.

    Small hinges swing big doors. Now my wife wants a bike… guess where we’ll be going.

    That ride from Amherst to Northampton is super cool especially crossing over the Connecticut River on the old trestle bridge. Sweet!

  8. Molly Keehn

    Thank you for this! I just discovered your newsletter, and I absolutely love it.
    Also, I live locally and will now support Laughing Dog Bicycles — have been looking for a good place in the area.


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