Here are some low cost, high impact steps you can take to get clients and do so in a way that doesn’t make you cringe, gamble your marketing dollars on long shot campaigns, or endure long hours of rejection cold calling.
More importantly, these 7 steps begin your relationship with the prospect in a genuine, respectful, valuable and spam-free way. You want your prospects to feel lucky that they found you rather than willing to do anything to get rid of you. So employ the Golden Rule and treat people in the professional manner in which you like to be treated.
1. Make a list of 10 companies that you would love to do business with as well as the right contact for you within the company.
Ideally what industry are they in? Ideally how large do they need to be to both fit and afford your products and services? You want to focus on the ideal prospect. Don’t chicken out and try to find safety in numbers – if 10 is good, then 1000 is one hundred times better – because you cannot focus on 1000 the way you can focus on 10. Starting with a small number allows you work smarter, make a greater impact and complete the process. This is all about focus, providing a professional experience, and follow-through.
2. Set up Google Alerts on both the company and the contact and visit their website.
Google Alerts will send a daily summary on links on the company and contact to your inbox. Each day you can quickly scan through to see if there is any relevant news that you can act on. If you see that there is news that you can comment on – grab a note card and jot down a quick message of congratulations, drop in a business card and mail it off.
Visit the website to see if the company participates in any social networks. Follow them on Twitter. “Like” them on Facebook. Do they participate in Google+? Give them a +1 on appropriate updates. Check to see if they have a blog and what topics they write about. If you can leave a thoughtful comment in the comments section of the blog do so – but avoid anything that even hints of sales. You’re commenting person to person, not salesperson to prospect. Also, when appropriate share their Facebook updates and “RT” their Twitter updates.
People participate in Social Media to get attention, engage with like minds, and further their message and brand. Help them with that goal and get to know them better at the same time. The 7 Habits refers to this stage as making deposits into the emotional bank account.
(@margieclayman of Clayman Advertising has an excellent series on Social Media and The 7 Habits I recommend you read.)
3. Use LinkedIn to see if you have any contacts in common.
If they have a company page, you’ll want to review it. It may lead to additional contacts that you want to add to your list.
Now, use the LinkedIn search tool to see if you can find the individuals. Scroll down on the right hand side to see a sandbox of connections. The top part of this section will show you any connections that you have in common. This is precious information as you can now ask the person you have in common to make an introduction. A face-to-face introduction is best but an email introduction is good too. Once you get the face-to-face or the email introduction is a good time to ask to connect on LinkedIn.
4. Nobody wants to be spammed, but most of us like to be courted.
When you do reach out to the people on your list: court them, don’t spam them. In Duct Tape Marketing we talk about the Marketing Hourglass. The Marketing Hourglass contains all the stages a prospect needs to go through to become an ideal client. Those stages are Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.
Trying to force acceleration and go from the “Know” stage to the “Buy” stage, skipping the steps in between can result in two less than desirable results converting a problem customer who does not value you or your products and services and is less than happy with their “Buy.” The other less than desirable result is if you prematurely try to pressure them through the stages, you risk damaging the relationship that you’ve built with them. And worse, if someone made an introduction on your behalf to this prospect, they won’t be inclined to make another introduction for you, upon hearing that you went for the hard sell with their colleague or friend.
5. Show genuine interest. Period.
6. Look for ways to strengthen the relationship.
As you learn about your ideal prospect you’ll quickly figure out who their ideal prospect is. Give to get. Is there someone you could refer to them who need their products and services? Have you come across articles or white papers that would be of interest to them? If they’ve done something newsworthy and you have a relationship with a reporter, you could look to make an introduction.
Have you read a great business book? Why not buy copies for your list of 10? Include a note that mentions what you find interesting and what you think they might find interesting. I have stickers that have my business card information on the front. I put these on the books that I send out – so that if it’s a week or so before they can pick up the book – there’s a reminder of who sent it.
7. At the end of the month add another 5 companies and repeat. It gets easier every month and your connections grow stronger every month.
Personalize and Differentiate
Unlike direct marketing tactics, which are dispatched to the masses with little or no personalization or differentiation, these 7 relationship-building activities will get noticed. You will have a prospect that will welcome doing business with you. If they are not ready to do business yet, they are very likely to refer you to someone who is.