One cardinal rule for marketing: You are rewarded for what you give . . .

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connections cafe adThere are many paradoxes in business, though most of them can be explained with some solid psychological science and a bit of creativity. Consider, for example, one of the cardinal rules of marketing and business development success: You are rewarded for what you give far more than for what you sell.

Social scientists have a phrase to explain why generosity is so effective ? the principle of reciprocity. In one scientific study, for example, one person set out to sell raffle tickets to others. If the individual offered the potential ticket-purchaser an unexpected (and unrequested) soft drink or coffee as a gift first, raffle ticket sales soared. The price of the raffle tickets far exceeded the drink’s value.

Of course, this study had one flaw from a marketers’ perspective. It is one thing to sell raffle tickets for a worthy charity or cause; it is quite another to get someone to purchase our own for-profit services. While asking never hurts ? and you will sell a whole lot more by asking than not (other studies show have proven that it always pays to ask) ? if you try to link your generosity to an immediate return, you will likely be rebuffed. You need to time your ?ask? appropriately.

This is why strong and effective architectural, engineering and construction marketers focus on community service and association involvement ? especially with associations where their clients hang out. The most powerful (indirect) marketing success occurs when you align yourself with your key current and potential clients on community and charitable projects close to their hearts ? and even better, your own.

If you take things a step further, you can really dig into and build some powerful personal relationships and expand your network through your own community service leadership.

As an example, I’ve been working with the Ottawa Chapter of Construction Specifications Canada to co-ordinate the Connections Cafe, a networking event on April 4 at Ottawa’s Algonquin College where we’ll have guest speakers representing the city’s largest-ever infrastructure project ? the new light rail transit system.

Committee members Karen Martinson (who works at the Canadian Roofing Contractors’ Association (CRCA)) and Matt McNeely (at Garland Canada) have taken the initiative to develop the program, suggest marketing strategies, and co-ordinate ideas, based on wisdom from Craig Cosgrove (Alpine Building Supplies.)

It is fun putting the pieces of this event together ? creating community, sharing ideas, and building the foundation for networking, relationships and business development.

You need to be patient and put aside your selfish immediate needs for this type of community involvement. However, if you ask us, you’ll find we are always willing to help out ? with free promotional support, advertising, and publicity.

And if you are in Ottawa or plan to be here on April 4, I really can recommend the Connections Cafe. You can learn more and purchase tickets at

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