Last Thursday I attended a Speed Networking function put on by the local chamber of commerce.  I was told to come armed with a stash of cards and a well polished 60 second summary of my business.  They were not wrong on both counts.

After a nerve subduing glass of wine we were set up in two circles of fifty all facing each other.  So the outer circle faced in and the inner faced out.  Allowing for about  20 cms between our knees we sat face to face and waited for instructions.

The rules were quite simple.  Once a whistle blew we had 60 seconds to give our introduction before another whistle announced it was the other person’s turn.  Then two sharp blows and the outer circle had to get up, move one place to the left and start it all over again.  I was in the outer group facing in and after going through one complete revolution I had never met so many people in such a short space of time.

At the end I finished up with a handful of cards, none of my own and a very good idea of how to effectively introduce Permission to people for the first time.  Looking back on the experience there’s a number of close similarities between effective Speed Networking and effective Online Marketing.

Firstly in both you only have a few moments to capture your prospects attention.  We had 60 seconds but I could see in the faces of the first few I spoke with that those first few sessions of mine were way off the mark.  Web optimisation, search engine marketing blah, blah, blah it was all just babble speak that only we really knew what we meant.   So I switched out some words, changed my emphasis to focus on the benefits of working with us and by the end heads were nodding and cards were being offered.

Sixty seconds could well be the average amount of time people spend on your website’s home page.  You may be surprised how short the average is.   (In Google Analytics look for the “Time on Site” and “Time on page” statistic to see what your values are.)    Which all goes to show why your home page content needs to gets to the point quickly and outline exactly what makes your business so different from the rest and why you should consider buying from it.

Getting the exact make up of this message right the first time is never an easy task.  And as I mentioned before, while working from person to person things did improve as I changed what I said.  Thankfully online marketing allows you to achieve the same type of continuous  improvement with the use of some clever software that allows you to  split test multiple versions of your website’s copy until your reports show you which one is performing the best.

Once correctly set up you can let 50% of your website visitors see the original home page while the remaining 50% see the one you want to test.   Then, once an adequate amount of data has been collected on each version, you can pick the winner and write another version to test this against.

Something I also learnt was that a message that includes specifics has greater chance of cutting through.  Being introduced to 50 businesses in 50 minutes allows anyone interested in marketing pick up on what made the good ones good and the rest just blend into a mass of sameness.

And as luck would have it this experience was helped by sitting in the inner circle (thankfully a few chairs apart) were two people representing same the mortgage loan business.   Both were vying for the same type of customer.

Each made the best use of their 60 seconds but the first told me specifics like the amount of account holders they had (I was impressed how large it was) and then the average amount of time and money they could save off a mortgage (a chunky saving).  Agent #2 covered none of this specific detail  and as a result their message sounded just like every other mortgage loan discussion – boring, boring, boring.

Others had a message that had some punch through the specifics of exactly who they worked with.   For instance I came across a guy called Grant who just services home  BBQ’s – that’s it.  He works in the Auckland region and goes from house to house ensuring the BBQ is set up, safe and ready to use.  He’s a very busy man.  In comparison there were at least four website developers in the inner circle and I managed to talk to them all.  None stood out.  They all offered the same type of service to a similar range of customers.

So there you have it.  The human version of Speed Networking was well worth the effort and I recommend it for anyone wanting to grow their business and further hone their marketing message.  Contact us today if you would like your website to experience their own version of speed networking and by doing so work that little bit harder for you this week than they did last.