Slow burn branding: The art of effective networking

July 25, 2013

After spending 22 hours, across three days, standing behind a table and repeating the same pitches and talking points more times than I could count, I noticed that one-off transactions were great but it was the five minute conversations with passers-by that were more valuable. Those long-term relationship-building interactions are invaluable when you’re still building your brand, as I’ve been learning this year.

I learned this via working with a start-up, Full Coverage Writers; the lessons I learned are scalable to any size company. They focused primarily on content creation and management rather than member engagement and interaction. While vendoring at ConnectiCon, they tried focusing more on engaging the people rather than just focusing on “sell the book. Sell the booklets Sell the pins. Sell, sell, sell.”

Their efforts boiled down to three factors: Product value, communications, and passion. Without those influences, they wouldn’t have reached various writers, authors, editors, publishers, and other attendees. They wouldn’t have gotten the company’s name and reputation out there. And I certainly wouldn’t have managed to get an on-site interview for them, had I not taken the following three concepts to heart.

These three concepts are for any size company, from a one-person startup to companies in the S&P 500.

Add value or lose long-term interest
Yes, sales are important. And profit margins. And all that good financial stuff that helps keep a business running. The best interactions we had over the weekend were with those we engaged with, though.

Talking about the type of writing they do, what other groups they’re affiliated with, where they slow down in the writing process. We had writers who we talked to on Friday return on Sunday with friends because they enjoyed our conversations and felt my products should be shared. The one-off sales we made weren’t nearly as valuable. I doubt they’ll remember much of what Full Coverage Writers was or what they stood for.

By providing that extra value and making those connections, I know I built the brand a noticeable amount in three days.

Make it clear and consistent or go home
There were multiple signs explaining what was offered. And yet we were still asked, regularly, how much items cost, just what our group stood for, and even why a bunch of writers were at a comic book convention.

The messaging was somewhat clear, but not enough. And the consistency was lacking, due to table space and lack of signage experience. Live and learn. Cross-platform communication strategies make a difference and help in the overall brand image building.

No passion, no persistence, no sale
As crazy and spastic as the weekend was, we were able to connect with peers, professionals, aspiring authors, publishers, and various other incredible people. We shared our passions.

Had we focused entirely on the profit margin to could cover the costs of the booth and travel and all the various other bits involved with the weekend long investment, we would’ve most likely drowned my sorrows in energy drinks and pocky.

Instead, we focused on providing support to any and all who stopped by. That way, we made long-term connections with writers, authors, publishers, editors, librarians, and even book retailers.

All in all, it was a great learning experience, and a good brand building exercise. Taking these three factors into mind, I expect future efforts to be even more effective and engaging.

What examples have you seen of brands focusing on value, communications, and / or passion? Which companies out there are doing it right?

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