Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You've Been Marketed!

My office "won" a free lunch yesterday at a local eatery. Unsuspecting, naive professionals that we are, we all figured, how fortuitous of us--we won! Wrong. We were about to be 'marketed'.

Gathering at the front door of the restaurant, one of our crowd didn't belong. Who's this guy, I thought. Oops, I'm out of the loop again...new employee. Nope, that's not it. Why is he wearing a suit?

"Hi, I'm Ron. I'm hosting your lunch today. I have a table ready over here for us." Ok, so this guy is with the restaurant. He's milking the opportunity to show off the restaurant. Fine. Although, what's up with the suit?

After we sit down, Ron goes on to explain he's a financial advisor with Ameriprise. Huh? Where'd you come from pal? Then it hits me: he's "purchased" our time. Brilliant! Now I'm really into this. I start reviewing the marketing:
  • captive audience
  • getting something in exchange for listening to a pitch
  • targeted marketing (I doubt it was a coincidence our firm was picked...and Ron could have performed reconnaissance ahead of time)
  • folks who actually might need financial services
  • all in a comfortable, neutral setting
Ron let everyone order (requesting to keep it around $10/person) and then while we were waiting for our food, Ron gave his 5 minute pitch. Afterward, he had us complete a survey with contact information and financial needs (he said it was a NASD requirement...I need to look that one up). And then he left--left us to contemplate what just happened! I think most of us already had financial plans in place but I saw a few folks putting thought into Ron's survey.

Overall, I was impressed. Impressed that someone had punched through my marketing firewall without leaving me feeling like I'd just encountered Slimer. I received something in exchange for my time. It was a bit misleading but I'm willing to let that go. I also admired the initiative. It had to take guts to pull off the presentation. I really hope this pays off for Ron--I'd love to know conversion rates on this approach.

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