I was speaking to a client last week about her marketing plan. She had developed a somewhat complicated plan to get the attention of her prospective clients.
It had to do with networking within an organization, getting attention and credibility and then setting up appointments with those she met.
Look, nothing wrong with networking. As a long-term marketing strategy, it’s great.
But as a short-term strategy to get meetings with ideal clients it’s not so great.
A better approach is to join an organization and then simply contact its members directly. After all, the people who could be idea clients may never attend the organization’s meetings, but they all have email and telephones.
If you’re also a member, you have an affiliation that gives you an instant foot in the door.
I used to do this many years ago when I belonged to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
I went through their directory and identified companies that I thought would be ideal clients and I sent them a letter introducing myself.
Then a few days later, I followed up by phone.
I remember I had a lot of resistance to this, but when I got people on the phone, it wasn’t as hard as I’d expected.
They were open to talking and most of them agreed to meet with me. Ultimately, several became paying clients.
I don’t know if you’ve given this approach a serious chance, but I know that many have a severe allergy to reaching out like this.
I just wanted to share a few ideas that may help make this approach easier and more successful for you.
1. Give some serious thought about whom you’re connecting with. Are they really good prospective clients? Have you worked with clients like this before?
2. Do a little research about this prospect. Take a look at their website, do a Google search, and look at their LinkedIn profile. See if they’ve written any online articles.
Once you feel you know them better, you’ll feel much more comfortable reaching out to them.
3. Think of your outreach as an introduction, not as a pitch. You’re not selling anything yet, as you don’t really know if they need your services yet. You’re just trying to scope out the possibilities.
4. In your outreach email mention your commonalities. Let them know if you belong to the same organization, went to the same university or have other business or personal things in common.
5. Also clearly state your value proposition so they are clear about what you do. “I help companies ramp up their social media so they quickly build brand awareness.”
6. Be willing to pick up the phone as a follow-up to your email. But do it within a few days of your email and essentially use the same, focused message.
7. When you finally get a phone conversation, don’t launch into a pitch about your services. Mention your value proposition to gauge their interest. Then spend most of the call asking them questions to understand how you can help them.
This direct outreach approach can be slow, but if you do your preparation work, your hit rate can be relatively high and you’ll find yourself speaking with highly qualified prospects who are great candidates for your services.