Do It! Marketing Blog: Marketing for Smart People™

Marketing Coach: Chasing Chum Makes You a Chump

marketing speaker marketing coach chumIt's amazing to me how many professionals fall right into the marketing trap of overt self-promotion, pathetic begging, and self-commoditization. 

What am I talking about? 

I belong to several online forums, special interest sites and private message boards for organizations like the National Speakers Association and Vistage International, the world's largest CEO organization. 

At least weekly, there are requests for referrals to various types of speakers, consultants, coaches and training firms.

And sure as the sun goes around the moon, there are desperate goofballs who emerge from the murkiness and respond to these like hungry sharks chasing chum in bloody waters. Instead of positioning themselves as experts and giving the REFERRALS as asked, they see these as opportunities to play their favorite game of "Pick me! Pick me!"

Here is a recent example: 


I'm working with a client who needs a keynoter on growth (franchise-related, if possible). Can anyone recommend a fantastic and engaging executive-level speaker on this topic?


Response 1: I am a professional speaker with topics from communication, diversity & personal & business growth. My firm has grown 15% in the last year, so I have some insights into the topic. [Excerpted]

Response 2: We work extensively with franchise organizations on business growth, strategy, and marketing. I'd be happy to explore whether the vast body of knowledge we have about franchise growth in our industry might be adapted to your client. [Excerpted]

Response 3: I'm a former VP with Hilton Worldwide. Specifically for the Homewood Suites by Hilton brand. I played an integral role in helping double the Brand's size - from 75 properties to 150 - in a four year period. Not sure if the hospitality industry would be an optimal choice for your client, nonetheless I'd be happy to hear more about your client's needs to see if there's a fit. [Excerpted]

Response 4: There is a fantastic niche bureau in the franchise world run by my pal Katrina Mitchell - some of these folks are extremely well-versed in the franchise world: Also T. Scott Gross would be a home run for this type of group as well - which is why he's among the folks Katrina works with!!

Response 5: I'm both a speaker and a retail franchise owner, so I may be a good fit if they are still looking. I'm a leadership keynoter who focuses on building trust in teams. I also own two franchises, and am in the process of expanding into a third. View my profile for more info if I can help.


I'll stop there only because to quote more of these people would make me nauseated. 

Lesson: There was only ONE "trusted advisor" answer in the whole bunch. Can you see which one it was? It was the one that gave the requester what she WANTED - namely, a REFERRAL and not a self-serving sales pitch. 

The definition of a trusted advisor is a professional who puts their client's interests before his or her own.

The folks who respond like #1, 2, 3, and 5 position themselves as PEDDLERS, not PARTNERS. 

Remember: Chasing Chum Makes You a Chump

Don't do it.

What's a smarter approach? There are three:

1. Ask one of your clients for whom you have done similar work to visit that forum and post an honest recommendation of your work. A third-party endorsement means a TON more than a self-serving sales pitch.

2. Take the conversation offline. Connect the referral requester with the person you'd like to refer (or if we're back to promoting yourself, then simply connect your past client with the requester's contact details and ask them to get in touch directly.)

3. Trade referrals and endorsements. This is one of my favorites - smarter than self-promotion and easier than connecting back with previous clients. Establish a trusted circle of 5-7 experts, consultants or professional services providers whose work you believe in and would gladly put your reputation behind. Offer to tee each other up regularly for opportunities like the one above. 

in my circle, for example, I have: 

  • A women's leadership guru whose message focuses on women's sanity, confidence and fun
  • A NY Times bestselling healthcare author and Hall of Fame speaker
  • One of the nation's top experts on building sales culture
  • A top-notch trainer on presentation skills (virtual and in-person)
  • One of the funniest motivational humor speakers on the planet
  • A networking and referral marketing expert in financial services
  • A small business leadership expert, bestselling author and Hurricane Katrina survivor

Stop chasing chum and you'll stop looking like a chump.

Question: Who is in YOUR referral circle? Get busy and create yours today!

Please use the COMMENTS area below to share your referral and lead sharing advice, success stories and feedback.

marketing speaker marketing coach referrals

Tags: marketing speaker, marketing concept, marketing professional services, trusted advisor marketing, marketing professional services firms, marketing coach, small business marketing, marketing tip, sales and marketing, referral marketing, referrals