If you’ve been with me for any of the last five years you’ll know most marketing and selling speak brings me out in hives! Whilst accepting that it’s an absolutely vital part of what we have to do, it will always feel uncomfortable alongside our (more important) mission to prevent homelessness.
So it was without my usual self-loathing and trepidation that I ventured to the Eastern Landlords Association meeting in Colchester last week. With 95% of private landlords owning fewer than three properties, I accepted some time ago that they are unlikely to become our customers, even if what we do helps them to avoid costly evictions.
And so it was with this in mind that I decided to go on a fact finding mission. I took no flyers or business cards. Instead I just prepared some questions and chatted to half a dozen different landlords.
Wow – I learnt so much. They opened up about their worlds, the challenges they face, the changes in legislation, how they feel about evicting tenants and why they do what they do.
So whilst they may not become customers, I learnt a huge amount to enable me to leverage resource and find another way to support their tenants and avoid evictions.
My lesson from this is twofold. I will identify at least one networking opportunity a month where I will just listen and not sell. This aligns beautifully with our values.
And whilst I will use the language of sales and marketing to move forward strategically, I still don’t really think it does the social enterprise sector justice.