If you’ve been marketing for a while, you know that it gets costly when you need to generate new business. Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Banner Ads to follow you around everywhere you go.
Take, for example, television commercials that blast offers at you regardless if you want to buy gold, need a walker, get a mortgage, buy sheets, talk about new drugs, or get solar, just to name a few. Then they ask you to contact them with a phone number or to request information. Pretty straight forward, blast information and ask for the call from the audience. Those are direct response ads; they’re asking you to do something.
As compared to cute ads, make you laugh, or tell a story, give you their name, and that’s it. You aren’t asking the viewer to do anything specifically. Lincoln Automotive assumes the viewer will rush out to purchase a car because Matthew McConaughey was driving one. This is an example of a branding message. You’ll also find similar branding ads in sports arenas and other public venues. This is the space where brands live with oodles of money to spend.
Now for you folks who want to make a splash without breaking the bank. All of these strategies work if you know your WHO. You know your market or niche. In business-to-business, you know that you’re looking for the CEO of banks, C-level manager of tech companies, or specifics that can be easily found on businesses.
In business-to-consumer, you may be looking at different zip codes and/or people who have credit cards for example. However, this will be costly if you are randomly searching.
1. Direct Mail — This strategy describes cold prospecting. When you have nothing going yet, and you need business. This may look expensive on the surface, but it isn’t if you start small and have a plan. The key to making this work is in your follow-up.
Have a process that includes follow-up, because it’s unlikely that many will respond; actually, a 2% response rate is excellent. But that isn’t the expectation either; you’re getting them acquainted with your name. Your next step could be a phone call if you’re in business-to-business. Followed by four to five more follow-up steps before you complete this sequence.
Don’t stop until you’ve completed your entire series. And don’t evaluate your results until it’s over. Most people need to see your name five to seven times before they respond.
When you’re starting, send ten postcards or letters. Make it budget-friendly. Send lumpy Mail; it still works. Adding something inside the envelope will create curiosity. Curiosity is a huge hook. Take your time to think through how you will move your prospect through your process, aka your sales funnel.
2. Looking for specific prospects in Google is an excellent strategy that many people don’t apply. It’s so simple to do. Start a search for the business types that you want to work with “near me.” For example, I want to work with chiropractors; I would search for chiropractors near me. The results would be the list of them in my area. Yes, you have to write out all the information manually, but it didn’t cost you a dime.
When you’re starting, time is all you have, so invest in yourself. This gives you all the details you need to contact them via mail, email, or phone. Create a spreadsheet of your 100 best candidates and start researching them on social media. Making your first contact will be so much better because you now know something about them — a great business-to-business strategy.
3. Email — This is a strategy for business-to-business selling. After you’ve looked them up, email them suggesting how you might help them. When you start with this one, you must do your research first. Because you’re not emailing them to send them your resume.
People get confused and think this is your chance to talk about you. Don’t do it. The conversation must be about them. What could be going on in their environment that might be broken that you’ve uncovered in your research? How you might boost their business or keep them from losing money. Companies are concerned about making money, losing money, and avoiding refunds. If you can help them in any of those areas, you should give this one a try.
Again, start slow. Pick a number that you can complete each day without sending out boilerplate emails. The email needs to be personal to some degree.
4. Referrals — This works in business-to-business or business-to-consumer. Ask for referrals. This task is as difficult as public speaking for so many people; they’re scared to death. Here’s the truth, if you’ve done an excellent job, then your clients won’t have a hard time giving you a referral.
Naturally, the best time to ask for a referral is when you’re working with your client before your project is over. You’re top of mind. However, if it’s been a while, you can still pull this off. Create a script for yourself that helps you effortlessly segue into the reason for your call or email.
For example, I was thinking about the great results we got when we were working together. I have a couple of openings in my calendar and want to see who you know who wants results like that.
You don’t want to put them on the spot, nor do you want to appear to be begging. You want to open the door for them to make a call on your behalf or email a colleague to give you a third-party introduction. If you can offer to frame the email for them with your short bio/qualifications, do it. The key is to make it as painless as possible for them.
Last, of all, thank them for their time with a small gift. Referrals are seeds that are planted, watered, fertilized, and harvested over time. If you take the time to thank people appropriately, you will live well and prosper!
All too often, people overlook this last step. Even if they rebuff your gesture saying it wasn’t necessary — believe me, it was.
5. Phone calls — Ok, these are getting harder, right. But if you have nothing going on, money isn’t rolling in, then your phone is your friend. Think of it as an initial step or use it in your follow-up.
This isn’t the time to blast them with everything you’ve got; again, like the email, try to find a problem that they might be having to offer a conversation about it. Not the solution, just a chat, short.
Find something about them to talk about. Even in business, they are people too and like to talk about themselves what they’re doing good in the world. Or what they might want to be doing…
The advantage you have with the phone strategy is you have next to no competition. Your competition isn’t calling people, so get in the game with an introductory phone call. Have a next step, an offer, a case study, or something to give away — for free. Keep your foot in the door. Ask them if they’re not ready if you can call them in 30, 60, or 90 days to check in on them.
6. Publishing articles — Each of these steps has been a low or no-cost idea. This one sounds simple, but it does take commitment. Publish an article, podcast, video, or social media live post every day for 365 days straight. Yes, it is a long time. You’ll get used to talking to your audience, and they’ll start getting used to you.
Pick topics that are of interest to you in your niche or category. Finding topics is easy they are everywhere you look. Find something and run with it. Be prepared for obstacles to get in your way. I recently had a medical situation come up that kept me from posting. I felt guilty but was too mentally and physically drained to do anything about it. So plan.
I enjoy many short 10-minute podcasts, so don’t overwhelm yourself with substantial long commitments. I’ve chosen to write 1,000 words each day, but that’s me.
Good luck with your plans, and let me know how you do.
If you’d like help with your plans reach out to me for a free consultation. (Yes, that was a call-to-action in my direct response offer.)
This is Linda James Bennett of Shiny Object Marketing; this is day 10 in publishing for 365 days. Enjoy!