Marketing vs. Connecting

As the owner of a small business, I am told over and over again how important marketing is to my business. In todays world of social media and the internet, a business will not survive unless you keep up with the excitement, the buzz, the day to day of the online world. Or so I am told.

At work I receive emails weekly, if not daily, on how someone can “fix my webpage” or help with my SEO. Emails asking if I would like to advertise on this site, or with this print ad.

And so, because I am pushed to advertise, to “market the business”, Tim and I set out in search of pictures for a story in one of our local magazines, Skaneateles Life. We were asked to advertise in Skaneateles Life and because we believe in supporting the local community, we did.

So we found ourselves on the east side of Skaneateles Lake last Friday, meeting up with a customer who had purchased our newest product, the Bayside. The Bayside is an outdoor aluminum rack – it’s flexible (can hold from 1 to 8 boats or SUPs), it’s stable, constructed of single vertical rails (no joints), yet it’s light and easy to use for many years of Upstate New York’s weather. OK – a bit of shameless marketing here

Our purpose was to take a couple of photos, ask the customer how she liked the Bayside and write up an article for the magazine. Instead, we shared a beer, stood on the dock and admired the lake,  the sun dipping into the distant hills. We talked about paddling, our love for the Adirondacks, rowing skulls in Vermont. We shared stories about family, and who knew who. We connected. After an hour or so, we said our goodbyes, we were headed for the west side of the lake to meet with another customer. She invited us back; said she’d teach be how to paddle a SUP!

Market or connect? I’d rather connect any day – whether near or far, Shane in Tasmania, Kathy and Bob in Baton Rouge, or Sandy on the east side of Skaneateles Lake.

Other companies can let SEO and social media consume their lives – but me? I enjoy making new friends.