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No matter how you slice it, marketing has a lot to do with metal detecting. All those times you’ve knocked on a door, sent a letter, or called a complete stranger to get permission for a property–that IS marketing. But rather than marketing a product, you are marketing yourself. You are–essentially–selling yourself to perspective permissions.
Marketing is my second nature–falling somewhere after writing and metal detecting. I’ve worked in marketing for the past seven years–generating leads, running campaigns, writing collateral. Once I realized that the skills I developed while working my day job could be applied to my efforts in metal detecting… it was game on.
Now, you may think that you have no experience in marketing, but you do. You just need to build on that experience and you will thrive. Once you have a grasp on the basics–knocking on doors, sending letters, cold-calling–you have to think outside the box. Every time you’ve sent a permission-request letter, have you sent a follow-up? Every time you’ve knocked on a door, did you have a business card handy?
After you wrap your brain around the salesman concept–whether selling a product or selling yourself– you need to ask: “What makes a great salesman?” When I think of a great salesman, I think of someone who exerts confidence and goes above and beyond. These are the salesmen who call you a few days later to make sure you’re getting along with your purchase, who are professional and sincere, and who personalize all correspondence instead of sending template letters. They aren’t just making a quick sale, they’re making a lifetime customer.
I realize that not everyone is familiar with the concepts of marketing–or they are and they just don’t realize it, so I wanted to share some methods that have worked for me.
First and foremost, you need a business card. My husband laughed when I ordered a slew of business cards from VistaPrint. Most people think of business cards as… well… business cards. Sure, technically a hobby isn’t a business… but business cards are a point-of-contact. To be quite frank, business cards are a lot more professional than handing someone a scrap of paper with a scribbled name and phone number.
I use VistaPrint. They are currently running a special: 500 business cards for $10 with promo code VPBC500. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of their custom templates. All you do is plug in your information and you’re done. Personally, I chose to include an abbreviated version of the Metal Detecting Code of Ethics on the reverse side–this did drive up the price a tad. But now whenever I send a letter, I tuck my card in the envelope. Whenever I knock on a door, I present a few business cards–in case they want to pass them along to friends and neighbors.
Secondly, you need to network. Networking is a huge part of marketing. Awhile back, I attempted an experiment–maybe you remember the photo of an empty bar? I spent the afternoon camped at the local bar with the hopes of netting some permissions from the old-timers. Unfortunately, the plan backfired and I ended up drinking a couple pints and polishing off a plate of nachos all by my lonesome.
Since that afternoon at the bar, I’ve branched out and started networking the local clubs–horse riding clubs, fish & game clubs, historical society clubs. These are the people you want to align yourself with. Hunters often come across old cellar holes and bottle dumps in the woods. If you ask the right questions, they’ll offer the information. Horse enthusiasts usually own land, which makes for great permissions. As for the historical society, historians are a wealth of information–they even know stuff that isn’t on the internet!
Thirdly, you need to shatter all those poor perceptions of our hobby. Just like it says in the code of ethics, you must be an ambassador for the hobby. You have to be respectful and helpful and kind. When I’m out digging and a stranger walks by, I smile and nod. When someone walks by with a dog, I ask to pet their dog. When someone says something to me, I strike up conversation and express my joy for the hobby. I’m always positive and upbeat. For every good impression you make on people, you are changing the perception of metal detecting hobbyists.
Just the other day, I had a neighbor approach me at the church where I’ve been detecting. We struck up conversation and she offered me permission to search her property–just because I was pleasant and engaging. Sometimes, you need to take your eyes off the detector and just acknowledge people. That is how I got permission for the second underground railroad house, I struck up a friendly conversation that blossomed into an epic permission. Never underestimate the power of being friendly.
Fourthly–an finally for now–use social media. Just last Fall–before I started in the hobby–I took a walk through the woods with my kids. I let my daughter play with my keys… well, you can imagine how that went. We got back to the car and the keys had vanished. I retraced my steps, but the ground was covered in leaves and it was getting dark. Eventually, I took to social media. I posted on Facebook and Craigslist, begging someone with a metal detector to come to my aid. A local woman drove out and found them for me. But why should you wait for someone to contact you? Put an ad out there on Craigslist or Facebook–they are both free. Simply offer your services in exchange for permission to hunt the property. If you make a good impression, one permission could lead to another.
In the end, marketing is about common sense. You are selling yourself, so make sure you’re prepared before you make that cold-call or knock on that door. In one of my previous posts, I wrote about key talking points and the importance of show-and-tell when door-knocking. Follow your instinct and smile. You got this. If you need advice, just drop me a line. I don’t bite.