Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

June 12, 2009

Online vs Offline?

Philip Rosenthal sent Vanessa an email asking:

‘How much effort should a consultant put into their online presence versus offline face to face networking?

It may be different for different consultants, but how do you decide how much time to put in or what mix of time to put into different areas? I am concerned that online marketing is a potentially endless sink of time and am not sure what the returns will be compared with traditional marketing.

Also, I have been on [a particular online networking facility] for less than a month and have about 30 connections – some of whom are people I don’t really know but are members of professional societies of which I am also a member and live in the same city as me – I hope to get to know them better this way. Any suggestions?’

Hello Philip,

Great question, and one which I’m sure many other Marketing Edge readers are wondering about. You raise three separate points, which I’ll address one by one:

Online vs offline networking

How much time you decide to spend in one area versus the other depends entirely on where your prospects are and you may have to do some research of your own to find out where that is. As a business owner with many commitments you simply cannot afford to waste your time, money and effort in activities that have minimal impact.

Are your prospects researching and making buying decisions from behind their PCs? If so, are they building relationships with potential suppliers through social networking, or are they using search engines to find information on specific services? (Two distinctly different approaches!) Or are they making those decisions on the golf course? Do they read specific trade journals or attend business to business shows and exhibitions? Find that out, then find a way to regularly get in front of them.

The returns compared with traditional marketing

Any marketing you do – whether online or otherwise must fit in with an overall strategy. They cannot be adhoc events or activities that get done on a whim and without proper forethought and planning. Remember too, that not all methods work for everyone. You have to test it and measure it. If it works, do more of the same. If it doesn’t work, or doesn’t work well enough, change tactics.

For example: Just because you’ve always had an advert in the Yellow Pages doesn’t mean you should just keep on renewing it. Do you know how much business you actually get because of that advert?

The same principle applies to your weekly networking breakfast; your brochures; your website; etc. Don’t blindly keep doing something just because you think you should, or because you think that ‘doing something is better than doing nothing.’

Getting to know your contacts better

Well done for creating an online profile and getting active in making connections! (For some top tips on creating and maintaining your profile, see my article Revamp Your Online Presence in Four Easy Steps.) It is important that your connections have substance and that you can add value to each others’ networks.

What is the point of hundreds of connections that are just there to boost your numbers, but you know nothing about each other and never interact? It would be just as ludicrous to collect hundreds of business cards at face-to-face events and stuff them into an overflowing business card folder that never gets opened again, other than to add more cards!

Your approach to connecting with fellow members of professional societies you belong to and people who live in the same town as you is a good place to start. May I suggest you take the initiative in arranging a meet-up to build those connections into REAL relationships. Perhaps something like meeting for a drink after work – invite all thirty connections and see who turns up. Not only will you benefit from getting to know them better, but they will benefit from meeting each other too. (By the way: This suggestion works equally well if applied to that over-stuffed business card holder too!)

Thank you for your question,

 

Other readers with questions are invited to submit them here and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming issue.

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June 5, 2009

Stop losing leads and opportunities!

The World is Owned by People Who Follow Up

(Guest authored by Colleen Francis)

Two months ago, a freelance photographer was at an event I attended and took some photos of me giving a presentation. I gave the photographer my card and asked him to please call me when he had prints available to sell, as I needed some updated action shots. After I saw the prints on line for sale as hard copies I emailed him inquiring about buying the electronic copies. You could say that basically, I begged to be a customer But, did he follow up?… NO. I have still not been able to buy photos from him.

Then, shortly after, by the luck of the draw, I had a phone conversation with a prospect at a technology call center in Ottawa, from whom I learned that “call center” work was a fill-in job for her. She is a struggling young fashion and portrait photographer with a small studio downtown. So, I asked her to please email me info about how to make an appointment for a photo shoot… and, you guessed it, I haven’t heard a peep from her either! She’s struggling and I’m begging to be a customer… and no follow up.

Last year I wanted to rent a cottage for six weekends during the off season and the cottage owner never returned one of my four emails.

You probably have endless stories in your own life, just like these… and I bet it drives you nuts too. There are a few businesses that do “get it”. Last week I received two E-reminders from my personal trainer – that I have not been to the gym in a while and bathing suit season is close. Bless him! – I went for my first personal training session in five months last week. Ouch.

The million dollar question is…

Who’s following up with your clients? Who’s following up on sales leads and opportunities? You or the competition? Who’s immediately following up on customer complaints to create a positive outcome… or are complaints just left to fester?

If you are a manager, are you following up on your team’s commitments to increase sales, reduce expenses, meet sign and submit deadlines, eliminate cancellations, and ensure prompt follow up with pending clients? And who’s following up with your CRM vendors, printers, marketing departments and other internal partners to make sure that they don’t let you down? Are you following up on your own promises to customers, staff and family?

What will you do?

So, what will you do to improve your track record in the “follow-up department” in every part of your business… and your life? This week, make a commitment to follow up with everyone who bought last month. Send them a thank you note – if you didn’t do that the day after the sale, and call them to ensure they are happy with your product!

Colleen-Francis©Colleen Francis is the Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions, which delivers sales solutions that realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise the client’s bottom line. Reach her at Engage Selling Solutions

December 19, 2008

Do You Inspire Action?

How to get Great Response to Your Marketing Efforts?
Have a Great Call-to-Action!

The current election race in the USA has given rise to a lot of comparisons between the public-speaking styles of the various candidates in either party – not that deep analysis of potential presidential candidates is anything new! Perhaps one of the most powerful sound bites of any election race was a self-effacing comparison made by Adlai Stevenson between himself and John F Kennedy during the election campaign in 1960. Stevenson invoked the memories of two great orators of the Greek and Roman eras when he said: “When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke’, but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march’.”

Of course, JFK was an outstanding orator, but then so was Stevenson (by reputation, at least – I have never heard a recording of him). So what made the difference between the two in terms of their ability to inspire action? One commentator, in discussing Stevenson, put it this way: “His speeches were isolated works of art rather than stations on a line along which he wished to travel.” So, in my own words I’d say that when Stevenson spoke he enjoyed the moment, but when JFK spoke he never forgot that he was trying to get people to vote for him!

What on earth does all of this have to do with marketing? It’s quite simple really: We must never forget while marketing that we are trying to get people to do business with us! If we do, we might leave a room full of people thinking: ‘How well he spoke’ and then turning to other things. Has that ever happened to you? It certainly has to me! I’m going to take this opportunity to share a story with you that was related by a friend and colleague, and I choose his experience rather than my own for two reasons: Firstly, he is a consummate professional whom I would never have imagined capable of such a blunder (where my own are depressingly regular) and secondly, because the circumstances make it all the more painful and therefore memorable. So, to the story!

My colleague is a Life-Coach who specialises in working with actors and the like, and is good enough to have been invited to address a group of three hundred recent and past graduates at Giulliard (the premier school of acting in the world, in case you haven’t heard of it). By his own accounting, my colleague gave a ‘kick-ass’ presentation extolling the virtues of working with a coach and the resultant benefits for the career and life of the coachee. When he had finished, he wrapped up by saying something like: ‘There are a pile of my business cards on the table by the door. If you’re interested, take one and call me.’ Guess how many calls he got? Yup – zero! Now I’ve seen this person speak – and he has a rare gift – so it wasn’t because he didn’t speak well. It was because for a crucial moment he lost sight of the fact that he was trying to get people to do business with him.

So what should he have done? What should you and I be doing each and every time we talk to a prospect, either one-on-one or as a group? Simply this: Take them by the hand and lead them to the next station on the line which leads to a sale.

Let’s illustrate: You’ve met a potential client at a networking event and in a few minutes of conversation you’ve determined that there is a potential fit for your services. You may try giving the prospect your card and suggesting they call you, but what is your likelihood of receiving that call? As an alternative, why not ask for their card and call them? That’s better because you’re in control of the next action, but there is still room for improvement.

Why not try this next time you’re in that situation? ‘Sally, I sense that there is some opportunity for synergy in what we’ve discussed, don’t you agree?’ If they do, then you say: ‘May I have your business card? I’m going to send you an article that I wrote on that very subject. It will be in your Inbox by midday tomorrow.’ You now have a clear path for this prospect to the next step in your marketing process. (You DO have a marketing process, Right?!)

Of course, if this is a prospect you’re already familiar with and who you believe already has a level of trust in your credibility, you may feel that sending an article is insufficient progress. So you could carry on with: ‘Do you have your diary handy? I’d like to buy you a coffee and explore this area of opportunity further. How does 10 o’clock Thursday work for you?’ Wow! An appointment for a sales call! That was too easy!

You may be saying: ‘I couldn’t do that! It would be an imposition!’ Would it really? Why do you think that prospect came to that event? Why did they share their situation with you and then give you their card, if it wasn’t because they were looking for help addressing their issue? Another colleague put it this way (he’s Australian and doesn’t mince words!): ‘Most people are walking around with their umbilical cord in their hand, looking for a place to plug it in.’ A graphic image – but ultimately an accurate one. So you would be doing both yourself and your prospect a disservice if you didn’t make sure they got plugged-in to your value-adding services as soon as possible!

But it won’t happen unless you take them by the hand and say: ‘Let us march!

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

This article was first published in The Marketing Edge on 1 December 2007

 

Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph: David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, is a marketing mentor who works with Professional services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level. Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes he helps them to create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit www.zee2a.com.

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August 18, 2008

Do You Market To Strangers?

 

There are very important lessons to be learnt about why marketing to strangers doesn’t work.

 

Our article Never Cold Call Again! (published originally in January 2008 ) has driven the most traffic to our blog, and generated a continued frenzy of response from our Marketing Edge subscribers.

 

Reading (or re-reading) this article will show you what to do instead – and get much better results!

June 26, 2008

What Are the “NO-NO’s” of Networking?

In your opinion: what really rubs you up the wrong way when networking?

Perhaps you have comitted the ‘unforgiveable s i n/s’ yourself and learned your lesson; OR you have been on the receiving end of someone else’s unacceptable or inappropriate actions / activity / behaviour.

It could relate to online or in-person networking.
It could be at or during an event
It could be what happens (or doesn’t happen) afterwards.

I’m looking forward to your comments!

I asked the same question on LinkedIn. Here are excerpts of some of the replies so far: (more…)

June 17, 2008

Don’t Place Another Ad Before You Read This!

These days there seems to be a bewildering profusion of magazines, newspapers, blogs, networking sites, television stations and the like all of whom want us to pay handsomely to advertise our services via their medium. Plainly we can’t do so on all of them – our advertising budgets restrict us to only a very few. So how do we get the most out of our advertising budget?

Let’s look at four areas we must give careful attention to before we sign on the dotted line or hand over the cheque. Making sure that we get these four components in place will have a massive positive impact on the return we get from our advertising budget!

Are You Talking to the Right Audience?

It may be hard to believe, but time and again I see this basic mistake being repeated. The question is simple: If you run an advertisement through this medium, what is the likelihood that a large number of the kind of people you want to do business with will see it? Don’t take this for granted, nor should you believe everything the salesperson tells you! I’m not suggesting that they are (all) dishonest, but do remember that they want your money – and they don’t guarantee results!

So how might you determine the answer to this question? Realise that every advertising medium has an editorial focus, and it uses this focus to attract readers/viewers. Broadly speaking, you need to understand the editorial focus of your chosen medium on three dimensions: geography, demography, and interest. Sometimes it’s obvious: A monthly magazine called Scottish Field & Stream, for instance, is likely to count lots of relatively well-heeled (so probably older), outdoor-focused male residents of that area north of Hadrian’s Wall among it’s readership. It’s not always that clear, though; so take your time and ask specific questions.

Is Your Message Clear and Attention-Getting?

If I had sixpence for every time I’ve seen an advertisement and wondered what it was trying to say … well, you know! There seems to be a school of thought that your ads don’t actually have to say anything, they can just make the audience feel something.

Understand this: you and I do not have the budget to do that, so we cannot afford to waste our money on ads without a message! How would you feel if you went to a fancy restaurant, ordered a fillet steak, and got a plate full of parsley? Would you go back – or even pay the bill that night? Similarly, your target audience needs something to sink their teeth into or your ad will not move them to take the next step.

One final thought on key messages: Your audience is far more likely to pay attention if you engage them with something of interest to them than if you bore them with lots of information about your business. (If you are a subscriber to The Marketing Edge and have not yet downloaded and worked through our free Verbal Signature(TM) workshop, I cannot urge you strongly enough to do so now! It will really help you to develop key messages that catch the attention of your ideal clients.)

Is There a Clear, Appropriate Call-to-Action?

How would you feel if your favourite sporting hero did all of the hard work to completely dominate their opponent and then – just as they were about to finish things – they went and sat down on the sidelines leaving the opponent to come back and win the game? Pretty stupid, huh? So why run an ad that catches the attention of your desired prospect, then not tell them what to do next?

‘Oh,’ I hear you say, ‘they can see our telephone number – they’ll call if they want to.’ Why should they? What reason have you given them to do so? A piece of ancient wisdom tells us: ‘If the trumpet sounds an indistinct call, who will get ready for battle?’ Similarly, without a clear powerful call-to-action your ad is useless.

So should you ask the prospect to call you for a quote? Offer money off if they place an order? Really, your prospect (assuming that the ad is the first they’ve seen of your organisation) doesn’t know or trust you enough to do business yet, and will probably not respond to such a call. Rather focus on getting them to ‘learn more …’ perhaps by giving away some free information.

Are You Ready to Measure the Advertisement’s Effectiveness?

Once you’ve placed the ad the hard work is done, right? Er, no. Marketing is not a precise science at the best of times, so the hard work is actually in figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Yes, we might as well acknowledge right now that not all ads will pay for themselves. If we know which ones didn’t, we can be sure not to place them again. You might think that’s simple logic, but I know of many organisations that renew ads month after month, year after year without any idea whether they are working!

How could you measure the effectiveness of an ad? First, you need to know exactly what the cost of the ad was (including graphic design/copywriting costs etc), then you need to find out how much signed new business it generated. That means you have to find out which ad brought you each new lead your business gets. To do so, you might offer a slightly different free gift in each ad – then when the prospect calls to collect you’ll know which ad they are responding to. Or you might try something a little sly, like saying ‘Ask for Jim’ when there is no Jim! Prospects who call asking for Jim must be responding to that ad. (Make sure everyone who answers the phone is ‘in’ on this one, please!)

Follow the four guidelines above whenever you place an advertisement for your business and you can be sure that you are getting maximum bang for your advertising buck.

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008. Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph: David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, is a marketing mentor who works with Professional services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level. Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes he helps them to create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit www.zee2a.com.

June 3, 2008

Right vs Wrong: How to Build an Email List

Email newsletters (aka E-zines) can be regarded as one of the best business communication tools invented for a long time. 

  • They are low cost – even no cost in comparison to paying for paper, printing, envelopes, and postage. 
  • They are instantly deliverable directly to the desired recipient. 
  • They are created with ease and minimal fuss.
  • They are environmentally friendly – no paper or transport to distant subscribers.
  • They allow you to stay on the radar of qualified prospects and existing customers in a low-key, non-threatening way.
  • They position you as an expert, authority, and credible resource in your industry.

Little wonder that so many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon with aggressive list-building tactics. The choice between right and wrong becomes paramount, and YOUR ethics, credibility, and reputation all come in to play when you choose how to build your list.

The wrong ways, while not yet illegal, are currently under review and challenge by both the European Union and the United States of America. Some dodgy tactics include:

  • Buying databases and mailing lists from vendors who sell them
  • Adding every contact you meet at networking events
  • Mining other databases like Chamber of Commerce member lists and the Yellow Pages
  • Using ‘Opt-out’

(Please note that I am NOT talking about occasional ad hoc emails, I am specifically referring to adding these names to your regular E-zine subscriber list)

Doing so will add thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of names to your list. 

What is the point of a subscriber list of thousands who never asked to receive your information, probably will never even open your messages, and certainly will never do business with you?  It’s a case in point of quantity rather than quality.

 How will unsolicited SPAM position you as credible?

 How will it draw prospects to doing business with you?

As an example, just this week I received an email from a local Law Firm that I have NEVER had any dealings with. Somehow I have landed on their subscriber list. (You’d think a law firm would lead by example!).

The email is addressed: ‘Dear Client’. Ahem – I am not, never have been, and now certainly will never be.  They have completely blown their own credibility in my eyes.

 At the end, they have their ‘Opt-Out’ clause: ‘This newsletter is sent in accordance with the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.  If you no longer wish to receive it please send an email to **** to unsubscribe‘.

Why must I have the hassle of asking them to remove me from a subscription service that I never asked to be a part of in the first place.  The next one I receive will be flagged as SPAM.  They will learn the hard way when the ISPs blacklist their outbound emails.

(NB:  If you are having problems with sending outgoing emails, and have an email newsletter with subscribers who haven’t subscribed themselves, you may want to check your ‘blacklisting’ status with your Internet Service Provider)

Do you even trust Unsubscribe links anyway?  How many times have you tried following one and then either being asked to log in (eh? With what details??) or received a ‘successfully unsubscribed’ message only to find you continue receiving the newsletters anyway?

The above tactics only serve to destroy your own credibility and reputation. Rather than being on the radar in a non-threatening way you may be pushing your prospects away.

Don’t despair: There are better ways! 

There are many reputable businesses and E-zine publishers who are getting the process right. In so doing they are growing their lists with warm, qualified subscribers who have a much higher likelihood of becoming paying clients in time.  Look at what they are doing so you can emulate their techniques as well as their success.

Here are some of the ethical, honest, and best-practice methods that they (we) use:

  • Use Verified Opt-In services.  It will take longer to grow a list this way, but each and every person on that list has chosen to be there.  They have qualified themselves in, are expecting to hear from you, are most likely to open and read your messages, and have an even higher likelihood of doing business with you when ready.  The best way to do this is to use one of the reputable list managers in the market. Get recommendations.  We love Aweber        
  • Have a Clear Privacy Policy. Email addresses are like gold.  Let your subscribers know that they can trust you to treat theirs as such. Make is clear that you will not rent, sell, or share their information with any third parties.  Also make it clear what you will do with their subscriber info. For example read Zee2A’s Privacy Policy HERE
  • Only send relevant information. Set expectations upfront about the kind of information you send your subscribers and then keep your promises.  If you offer a Tax Consulting service your subscribers will expect information relating to that. They don’t want emails from you marketing Time-Share in Spain.  Here at Zee2A we help our clients grow their businesses, so our emails will always contain articles, hints, tips, and suggestions on doing just that.  Not the latest Make-up and fashion trends!
  • Make it easy to get in touch with you. The internet can be a vast, impersonal, black hole.  Show your subscribers the real ‘you’ behind the website and the E-zine.  We always include a photograph to make it more personal and so that you can put our names and faces together.  We also include contact information so that you can write, email, or call us. 
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe. If your readers choose to no longer receive your newsletters they should not need to jump through hoops to have their wishes granted.  There should be no shenanigans.  Your privacy policy and use of a reputable list manager will ensure integrity in this matter. 

Keep an eye out for my follow up article. In it I will outline various tried and tested methods to grow your E-Zine list with quality subscribers who look forward to hearing from you.

©Vanessa Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008. Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph: Vanessa Deakin, Operations Director at Zee2A, is a Marketing Coach who works with Professional Service Executives frustrated and disappointed with their current growth rates, marketing efforts, and business profitability. Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes she helps them to skyrocket their results and break their own best records. To learn more, sign up for her e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit our website at www.zee2a.com


Email Marketing $19/Month!

Vanessa could help you with your overall online (and offline!) marketing strategies. Get in touch NOW to arrange a complimentary telephone consultation.

 

February 6, 2008

Resolving The Dilemma of Ethical Marketing

Many service professionals will tell you that the words ‘ethical’ and ‘marketing’ don’t belong in the same sentence. While you’d be opening another can of worms by asking for a precise definition of ‘ethics’, let’s just say for the moment that often marketing leaves us feeling a little dirty, or sleazy if you prefer. One marketing guru summed it up by saying that marketing and sales are the world’s second-oldest profession – and often are indistinguishable from the first! Is that how you feel? If so, you have a problem (and you didn’t need me to tell you that!) That’s because without marketing you’re on the fast-track to retiring from a dull middle-management job at a faceless, heartless corporation. Not much in the way of choice, I hear you say!

Well, perhaps there is a third way. Let me say that a little more positively: I KNOW there is a way to be as successful as you choose to be at marketing without feeling like you need a hot shower and a scrub. Let’s take a few moments to explore the marketing dilemma and see if we can unravel it.

First, let’s acknowledge that not all of us would do anything for a quick buck. Most of us (certainly the professionals I work with) went into professional services because we really believed that we could do things better if we weren’t hamstrung by corporate red-tape, and that by doing things better we could better serve the customers whose dollar we were on. Has that changed? Not for me – and I doubt it has for you either. So at its heart our business exists because we believe it helps those we do business with as much as – if not more so than – it does ourselves. Many professionals remember this simple fact by carrying a Vision or Mission Statement which says so. (Without intending to get off track, I cannot recommend highly enough that you regularly reconnect with the reasons you went into business in the first place. Our Marketing Mindset process helps our clients to do just that.)

Second, let’s agree that sometimes we really need to close a deal in order to survive. We’ve all had months when the taxman was calling, the bank manager was refusing to extend the overdraft and the kids were expecting to be equipped for university like Shackleton was for the Antarctic! Some of us have had more of those months than we care to remember! At times like that it doesn’t help to hear some smart aleck say that if you really need the money, you shouldn’t do the deal. They may be right – and if so we’ll have our nose rubbed in it later when we’re trying to untangle from a customer whose expectations were way too high but whose commitment was close to non-existent. But in the heat of the moment it’s human nature to do what we have to do in order to survive, so we do and say whatever it takes to get the signature on the proposal.

Clearly then, there are times when our commitment to a customer doesn’t closely mirror our overall vision for our business. And if we have too many of those, we start to question our vocation. You may not realise this, but you should: Getting to feeling like that is a GOOD THING! It means that your profession still means something to you; that you still want to be better. You want to be better for your own sake, and you want to be better for your customers’ sake. If you ever lose that desire, you’re in deep trouble and I’m not sure who can help you!

However, that scenario should not be the norm for service professionals. All too often, though, it is. Why? Because we neglect the necessary chore of regularly prospecting for customers until the urgency is great enough to force us out of our comfort-zone. Or, to put it another way, we don’t do any marketing until we’re having ‘one of those months’ – the type that make us unethical marketers! Are you sensing the pattern here?

Finally, then, lets discuss how to break the cycle that leads to ethical misdemeanours. It seems too obvious to say, but plainly it’s not: Do more marketing more regularly, and you won’t have many of ‘those months’. Of course it’s one thing to say it and quite another to do it. How do we market regularly? What does that involve? How do we get the most bang for the buck? We are busy people, so only the most effective marketing activities should be in our portfolio or else we’re wasting time and money, right?

Many years of testing and sifting have demonstrated to me that there is nothing that even comes close to Relationship Marketing in terms of effectiveness for service professionals. As I define it, Relationship Marketing is about building trust with and demonstrating credibility to prospective clients before initiating the crucial sales conversation – letting them get acclimitised to you and plying them with information about your services so that when you ask for their business they have little hesitation because they already know they’re going to get value-for-money. And for it to work successfully on a consistent basis, you have to have a game-plan for it.

Put in a nutshell then, a good Relationship Marketing game plan well-executed is the cure for the ethical marketing nightmare. So what are you waiting for? Make sure NOW that your marketing strategy is focused on building relationships – not just when you’re desperate for new business but every week and every month. Your conscience will thank you later!

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited

Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph:  David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, is a marketing guru who works with Professional services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level of profitability and success.  Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes he helps them to create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit http://www.zee2a.com

 

January 24, 2008

NEVER COLD-CALL AGAIN!

And Get More Clients
Into the Bargain …

Okay, so that title sounds like a load of phoo-ey, right? (And yes, phoo-ey IS a technical term we marketing gurus use!) Everybody knows that the only way to get new clients is to cold-call, or cold-mail – how else do you find prospects that you might end up doing business with? That is at least how the accepted wisdom goes – and judging by the number of organisations in the UK currently selling lists of prospects carefully segmented by any number of weird and wonderful demographics, the accepted wisdom is still very much accepted. So how can I tell you that you’ll get more clients by NOT cold-calling?

Here’s something you might not have thought of before: Did you know that organisations like Sainsburys and Barclays Bank cannot cold-call? Now I’m not saying that there’s some kind of law that prevents them. Rather, I’m pointing out that it’s impossible for them to do so. How’s that? Because pretty much anyone who might appear on one of their marketing lists (and that includes virtually everyone over the age of sixteen in the British Isles) has not only heard of them, but also quite likely knows where their nearest branch or store is. The point is that we’re not cold prospects – we know them, we’re familiar with their logo and their place of business, and we have possibly even had some experience of them. We’ve already been warmed to them by our previous dealings with them, to the extent that we likely view them as part of our community. And that can make the world of difference to our reception when being marketed to.

Of course, part of the reason for that is the immense marketing and operating budgets at the disposal of these commercial giants. They buy this exposure by running TV commercials and radio slots ad nauseum (or at least it can feel like it!) and by having a physical presence on nearly every High Street in the country. Very few of the professional service organisations we work with have anything more than a fraction of a percent of that financial muscle – but there is still a vital lesson we can learn from their success. The lesson is this: Never market to strangers!

You may notice that the lesson sounds very like our title, and with good reason – cold-calling and cold-mailing are first-rate examples of marketing to strangers. Why not market to strangers? Three reasons (well, four if you count the conclusion): They don’t know you, they don’t like you, they don’t trust you – so they are not going to buy from you! You may want to remember this as the ‘know, like and trust threshold’ and test every marketing initiative against it. If a marketing initiative hasn’t already scaled the ‘know, like and trust threshold’, keep your money in your pocket.

You’re probably thinking ‘I’ve worked every lead I already know, so without marketing to strangers I’m not going to get even one more customer!’ We might debate just how effectively you’ve worked every lead you already know, but let’s agree for the purposes of this article that what you say is true. Really, if you want to grow your business you have no alternative but to market to strangers, right?

Ah well, having told you what not to do perhaps I should now share with you what you must do to turn strangers into profitable customers. The answer lies in identifying connections which link you with the strangers you wish to market to. What’s a connection? Think of it as an affiliation, a commonality you share with the individual you wish to engage in a marketing conversation. It really doesn’t matter that much what the nature of the connection is – are you part of the same church-group? Do you share a hobby? Did you grow up in the same town or attend the same school? Are you subscribed to the same Chamber of Commerce? A connection may even be established by subscribing to the same periodical!

It’s a fact that the single greatest human need is acceptance – a need to belong, to feel connected. In this twenty-first century world where the community values of our grandparents no longer have any kind of currency, we fulfil our need for acceptance through a bewildering range of virtual communities – some of them so virtual that they only exist in cyberspace! You would be making a dangerous mistake concluding that the connections we hold have little value – they are actually the most powerful marketing tools we have.

Don’t believe me? Then consider this – if you can identify a connection to your prospects, they are no longer strangers! If you’re still struggling to see this, perhaps you might want to tell me which of the following is a more persuasive marketing pitch:

  • 20% Discount on our services during December!
  • Produce a Basingstoke and Deane Council Tax bill to receive a 20% ‘community’ discount during December!

Of course if you’re thinking ‘Who wants to live in a dump like Basingstoke?’ you’ve just proved my point! We Basingstokers suspect how others feel about us (especially since that ‘Crap Towns’ book hit the shelves) but we know that we are part of a wonderful warm community and we look after each other. Which may or may not be true – but it’s our perception, so nothing could be truer for us. We’re connected, see? And we can’t be connected to strangers – that’s another impossibility.

I strongly urge you to do something right now that will have an immediate impact on your marketing success rates. Take a few minutes to consider where you might find communities with a high percentage of your prospects. Then consider how you might connect with those communities on the basis of joint participation, and frame a marketing campaign that emphasizes your connection.

Before long you’ll have added another connection to some of those community members – they’ll be profitable clients.

Are you a Professional Services Executive yearning to grow your business without sacrificing your quality of life, but not sure how to take the next step? You may be ready for The Marketing Edge programme. Contact us now at info@zee2a.com to discuss how the programme can help you to fill up your fee-book with profitable clients.

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited

Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph:  David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, is a marketing guru who works with Professional services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level of profitability and success.  Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes he helps them to create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit http://www.zee2a.com