Marketing Field Guide for introverted entrepreneurs: Pitching your business to strangers

Here is what I learnt from attending a trade show and getting over the fear of pitching. Marketing does not come naturally to technically inclined people - but changing your perspective a little bit goes a long way.

Marketing Field Guide for introverted entrepreneurs: Pitching your business to strangers
Photo by Kristopher Roller / Unsplash

A week or two ago I attended Cape Wine 2022 in an effort to promote my new business-to-business (B2B) marketplace for bulk wine Daily Bulk Wine.

The goal of attending was simple:

🎯
Meet international clients and convince them to sign up to Daily Bulk Wine

The Challenge

The international clients were not exhibiting, they were also attending the event and walking around between stands.

The implication of this was that I had to walk around, try and read their name badges and ascertain whether they were local or international and if they would be interested in a bulk wine marketplace.

Just to give you a bit of background. I am an engineer. A builder. Walking up to a complete stranger and marketing my business is completely out of my comfort zone.

Stage Fright

I arrived full of confidence and then - I could not muster the confidence even to start speaking to the first person.

After walking around aimlessly for probably 1-2 hours, I decided I am going to buy myself a coffee, gather myself and try again.

So I went outside, got a coffee sat down and decided that I was going to zoom out and try to change my perspective and approach.

Here's what I wrote down:

  1. 99% of people attending a trade fair, are actually there to make new connections and don’t mind listening to your sales pitch.
  2. If you crash and burn - chances are you will never meet that person again - no harm done.
  3. Get in as many bad pitches as soon as possible. The more “repetitions/rejections” I got, the better I got.
  4. Rather over-dress. If you look like the real deal - people WANT to meet you.
  5. When asked: “How’s business going?” ALWAYS says it’s going great! Fear of missing out is real and people want to be involved with thriving businesses.

Outcome

After finishing my coffee and the list above, I managed to successfully "zoom out" and change my perspective on the situation.

I got up and stopped the first person I came across. Success. I did not crash and burn and the pitch was okay. A new connection was made.

Over the course of the next few days, I repeated this again and again until I honed my process and it became, dare I say, easy. (well easier, I don't think it will ever be easy)

At the end of the fair, I made new connections, learnt a new skill and got out of my comfort zone. I would say it was successful.

Bonus Tips

  • If you stop a random person, put your hand out and greet them enthusiastically. They will think that you have met before and that they are supposed to know who you are. Go with it. It puts you in a power position.
  • If they seemed interested, give them your business card AND ask for their business card (otherwise you have no way of following up)
  • Thank them for their time and bid them farewell
  • If you walk into them again, greet them again. Start building a relationship.

The Follow Up

As soon as possible after meeting a new lead, write down where you met them, what you spoke about and what was interesting/different about the conversation.

About a week later, send a follow-up email and thank them for their time, and the chat you had. Be sure to include a small detail from what you wrote down above, this makes the email more personal and will help the person to remember meeting you.

It is often better, not to ask something of them in the very first email you send them, to avoid sounding too forward. The aim is to start building relationships and keep the conversation going.

And that's it. Now you go!

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