One of the first principles I teach in my books and speeches is that approachability is a two-way street. The word comes from the Latin verb apropriare, or "to come nearer to." This means that in addition to being proactive in approaching customers, prospects and friends; you also must position yourself, your company, your ideas, your value and your services in a way that magnetizes them to YOU.
A few years ago I was explaining this theory to one of my clients. She interrupted and asked, "Scott, I've been wondering this for a few months now: does wearing a nametag 24-7 ever help you get dates?"
Ha! If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that.
But while I explained to Pam that my nametag was a signal for friendship - not a pick-up tool - something dawned on me.
Marketing and dating are the exact same thing.
Let's look at dating first. Let's say you're out at a club, coffee house or cocktail party. You notice a handful of prospects whose looks, personality or charm catch your eye.
Does that mean you just walk up to every one of them and start firing away?
For some people, yes. And those individuals might have some success. But more than likely, the people being "fired upon" are probably thinking to themselves, "Ugh, just another person trying to pick me up."
But what if you reversed the attraction? What if you positioned yourself in a way that invited them TO YOU?
Never thought of it that way, did ya?!
Here's how it works. You're sitting around in a club with some of your friends. Laughing, smiling, having a good time, acting friendly to everyone: strangers, friends and bartenders alike. As a result, you don't give off an image of being goal oriented or "on a mission." You're just chillin'. Being yourself.
You know what happens?
The exact people you're trying to attract will notice. And they will be magnetized to you. Because you're comfortable. You're non-threatening. You seem cool. Fun. Nice. Honest. Approachable. After all, there is nothing more approachable than authenticity.
And I speak from experience when I say: this stuff works.
In all my years of bachelorhood, I've never walked into a room, club, bar, coffee shop or party, saw someone I liked and said, "That's her. Over there by the wall. I'm gonna go pick her up."
Because it just doesn't work. Instead, I invited them to come to me.
Perfect example. I was at a club with my college roommate in June of 2005. At the time, both of us were single. And at the time, both of us were trying to meet someone new.
About halfway through the night Jake said, "Scott, we're striking out here! Come on, you're the approachability expert - what should we do?"
The two of us made our way to a nearly empty dance floor.
"Are you crazy? We're like, the only people out here!" Jake complained.
"Take a look at every other single guy in the room," I said. "They're all positioned proactively. They're just bouncing from girl to girl, spitting out cheesy lines, trying to buy them drinks. And every girl knows it. That's why none of those fools are making any progress."
"So?" Jake said.
"Look. Just start dancing. Smile non-stop. Sing your butt off! And don't worry about me, I'll be doing the same thing over there," I pointed.
"Just have fun. You watch what happens."
Within five minutes there was a crowd of girls on the dance floor. It was like magic! They sidled up to us with comments like, "You two are the life of the party!" and "At least some guys are brave enough to dance!"
Long story short, Jake and I met two very cool girls. Two girls we probably wouldn't have met otherwise. (Now, as far as what happened after the bar, well, that's another story.)
But that's not the point. The next day, Jake's comment was, "...but we didn't even do anything!
Or did we?
Maybe we reversed the attraction and created a magnetic field.
Maybe we positioned ourselves and invited the girls to take the first step.
In other words, maybe we enabled people to buy, instead of trying to sell.
It's exactly the same with marketing. Let's say you have the names and numbers of 100 hot prospects whose needs perfectly fit your target market.
Does that mean you just cold call every one of them and sell sell sell!
For some people, yes. And those individuals might have some success. But more than likely, the people being cold called are probably thinking the same thing as those girls in the club: "Ugh, just another person trying to sell me something."
But what if, just like Jake and I, you reversed the attraction? What if you positioned your company, your product, your website, your ideas and your organization's value in a way that magnetized prospects TO YOU?
See where I'm going with this?
Let's say you start a company blog, for example. Every day you post interesting, unique, valuable and informative posts about products and important issues facing the people in your target market. And you encourage comments and emails from customers, friends, competitors and strangers alike.
In other words, you build a community. Just like on the dance floor.
But you don't give off an image of being sales oriented or "on a mission," like your competitors. You're just sharing your expertise. Your value.
In other words, you courageously throw yourself out there. Just like on the dance floor.
Waiting for them to come to you.
You know what will happen next?
The exact customers you're trying to attract will notice. And they will be magnetized to your company. To your products. To YOU! Because you're the expert. You're That Guy (or That Girl!)
And you're not trying to sell them. You just seem like a smart, cool, trustworthy, credible, fun, nice, honest and approachable professional who they'd like to do business with.
Look, the Law of Attraction works. It's the foundation of both my dating AND marketing strategies! Since I started my speaking business in 2003, I can honestly say that I've never made a cold call in my life. I've never dialed up a strange meeting planner, HR director or conference coordinator and tried to sell them on my speeches, books and workshops.
Because it just doesn't work. Not anymore.
Not in a culture where the average person is exposed to over 3000 advertising messages a day.
Not in a world where you only have a few seconds to make a first impression. And not in a business environment where people buy people first.
However, with the right kind of positioning of your expertise, your unique value and your personality, you CAN get them to come to you first. Let's explore another example.
Make It About Them
At the tail end of my senior year in college, I posted my resume on Monster.com. Considering the number of potential candidates I was competing against, I knew that I had to find a way to stand out from the crowd instead of fade into the multitude.
So, right before my resume went live, I checked out the "headlines" of several dozen students. (If you've never been on Monster.com before, a headline is a short phrase that describes you to prospective employees.)
Most of them said something like, "Talented & Creative Marketing Student," or "10 Years of Sales Experience."
(Cue snoring sound here.)
My thought was, "I need to convey value. To show them that hiring me will help bring about change in their organization, not to brag about how great I am.
So, this is what my headline read:
SCOTT GINSBERG WILL CHANGE YOUR COMPANY!
I got more emails that I knew what to do with. Companies from around the country requested interviews and resumes! And while I didn't end up working for any of them (I ended up starting my own business instead), I think the lesson is clear: make it about them.
The same goes for dating. Check this out...
I never wanted to post my profile on Match.com, but then again, nobody does. At least, that's what most people say.
Anyway, it sounded like fun. So I paid the $50 bucks for three months and gave it a shot. And you know what? It was actually a great experience.
Now, just like Monster.com, I was required to write a headline to attract potential prospects; or in this case, dates.
So of course, I checked out my competition. I read the headlines of several dozen guys with similar profiles as my own.
And 98% of them sucked.
Their shallow, dull headlines included descriptions like, "Athletic, tall guy from Miami," "Super Stud Seeking Princess" and "Sk8er Dude w/ Tattoos and Piercings."
If you think you're going to attract dates like that, good luck!
Instead, I thought back to Monster.com. What could my headline say to show these girls that I'm actually taking an interest in someone other than myself?
So, my headline read the following:
IF YOU'RE A HUGE DORK, WE'LL GET ALONG GREAT!
After all, that's the kind of girl I like: a big dork. A geek. A nerd. In other words, someone just like me. And all my friends know this.
You might say that I "know my perfect customer."
Gotcha! Marketing and dating really are the same, aren't they?
LET ME ASK YA THIS: Do you know your perfect customer? Do your colleagues, friends and coworkers know it? And are you positioning yourself, your company and your value in a way that reminds the customers that they ARE perfect for you?
Nice Band Aid Ya Got There
Marketing and dating: one in the same. Both require you to be yourself, both require you to be approachable and both require you to be UNFORGETTABLE.
Last (and best) example.
On September 15th, 2005, I walked into my local Kinko's to place an order. The girl behind the counter was a cute little redhead with thick glasses, light green eyes and smile that reminded me of those old Twizzlers commercials.
She greeted me as I spread out my papers on the counter. Right before I started telling her about my project, I noticed a STAR WARS band aid on her thumb.
"Hey, cool band aid!" I said.
"Thanks," she squeaked. "Yeah, I'm not much of a STAR WARS fan, but this was all the doctor had. Honestly, I was really hoping for a Mario Brothers band aid. Gosh, that would be so awesome!" she said.
"Yeah, I know," she continued, "I'm a huge dork."
Oh. My. God. I'm in love.
Jackie continued to help me set up my project as we discussed our favorite Nintendo games, movies and the like. As she worked, I noticed her computer skills were faster than anyone I'd ever seen. Her design ability was also quite impressive. And for the next 10 minutes I kept thinking, Man, there is something about this girl...
The next day I returned to Kinko's to pick up my brochures. To my delight, Jackie was working again.
Yes! I thought.
She grinned at me as I approached the counter. Meanwhile, my stomach was tied in knots because of the crazy stunt I was about to pull.
As she rang up my order, I reached into my cargo pocket. My heart beat a hundred times a minute as I pulled out a small box. Oh my God, I can't believe I'm about to do this...
"Well Jackie, I couldn't find Mario Brothers, so I thought Scoobie Doo would be the next best thing."
Resting on the counter in front of Jackie's keyboard was a box of cartoon band aids.
I swear to you, I have never seen a woman blush faster and redder in my life. She was utterly speechless. And I just stood there with a big fat grin on my face.
Five minutes later, we had exchanged emails.
Seven days later, we were out on a date.
Nine months later, we were in love.
Which brings us to today: still together, still in love.
So, what does this have to do with marketing?
First of all, during our initial conversation, I listened to and remembered exactly what Jackie liked. Her preferences. Her needs. Her likes and dislikes. Then I followed through and gave her exactly what she wanted.
What about you? Do you listen to and remember your customers' needs? And does your marketing represent your company's ability to deliver those needs?
Secondly, I was creative. After all, I could have simply asked Jackie out on a date. Straight up. No bells and whistles. Slapped down my business card and said, "Call me if you want to hang out and play Mario Brothers sometime."
But I didn't.
Because that's what she was expecting.
Because that's what every other guy would've done.
Instead, I did something completely out of left field. And it worked.
What about you? How could your marketing be more creatively unexpected? How could you position your brand in a way that catches people off guard?
Lastly, I was unforgettable. A few months after we started dating, I met several of Jackie's friends and family members. And most of them asked me, "Hey, are you The Band Aid Guy?!"
Yes I am.
Apparently, Jackie told that story to everyone!
Because that's what happens when you're unforgettable - you're un-concealable. If marketing truly is the same thing as dating, you have to ask yourself:
Are your marketing materials so unique and so unforgettable that customers go out of their way to tell their friends about it?
Secret to Success
So, what's the secret to dating?
I'd say: trust, honesty and a unique personal connection.
Gosh, those sound like marketing words, don't they?
You're damn right.
If your marketing doesn't earn TRUST, you lose.
If your marketing isn't HONEST, you lose.
If your marketing isn't UNIQUE, you lose.
And if your marketing doesn't create a PERSONAL CONNECTION, you lose.
But if you're unforgettable, if you're That Guy (or That Girl!) and if you're willing to throw your authentic self out into the world for all to see...
...then you win. You win people and customers for life.