Schmoozing has a somewhat negative connotation. Typically it’s associated with shady car salesmen or vendor shows- sellers kissing buyers behinds regardless of how they feel about them to keep the money trail happy. It’s not something I enjoy doing, or am good at doing- perhaps why I shy away from the sales side of advertising. I pride myself on honesty and transparency. I don’t particularly care for being schmoozed either- I want people to be real with me; I don’t want to feel manipulated or patronized. But schmoozing does not always have to be a negative thing. In fact, according to its roots, it’s not negative at all. It wasn’t until “chatting intimately” (which obviously leads to successful relationship marketing) was discovered as a successful sales tactic that it progressed from a methodology to a cheap tactic.
Recently, I purchased a Groupon that allowed me to sample several fitness classes from various gym facilities. While each has offered effective workouts and knowledgeable instructors, one stood out. There are two key ways this gym successfully “schmoozed” me.
1. They made it personal. After the very first class that I signed in for, they remembered my name. That is huge. It didn’t cost them a thing, and it completely won me over. When I bragged on this to my younger sister she said “Of course they remembered your name Sarah, they want your money. You’re in marketing, you should know that.” Do they address me personally because they want me to commit to coming back? Maybe. But I’m in the market for a gym, and when I compare my options, I will always pick the one that knows me. Even though they are group classes, every instructor addresses me personally and helps me master each technique and push myself to the next step in each consecutive class. They help tailor exercises to my body capabilities, and even pre-heat the shower for me when I’m in a rush for work after class. They clearly love their jobs and want to be there, and care about my personal fitness goals and motivate me to do my best. In my book, that is huge.
2. They gave me swag. I am all about the swag and getting the biggest bang for my buck. I am extremely frugal (borderline cheap) so the more “free” swag you throw my way, and the better of deal I feel like I’m getting, the more inclined I am to bite. Apart from state of the art equipment and great instructors, this facility offered me free parking (that alone would have won me over- parking is terrible in this city), free member events, at-cost liquids and snacks, and a fully stocked bathroom (gels, sprays, razors, flat irons, the works). Everything I need to have a successful fitness routine is at my fingertips.
Want to increase your consumer base and garner customer loyalty? Start schmoozing. Not the sleazy kind of schmoozing, but start really caring about what you do and who you’re doing it for. It can be tempting to focus on the reasons you hate your job, or how you’re working on this project strictly to fulfill your quota or put the bacon on the family table, but a changed attitude can change everything. Focus on the reasons you love your job (even if those reasons are that it keeps you from being homeless, or it teaches you patience, humility, and how to love stupid people- there’s always a positive if you dig deep enough) and focus on how you can do your best to best enhance yourself as an individual as well as the company and the consumer. Learn names, send thank yous, give away swag, ask someone how they’re doing and actually stop to listen. Learn how to excel in the art of schmoozing intimate conversation.