“Life begins when you do.” — Hugh Downs, American Broadcaster
I have a business contact who dials (OK – probably touches) my phone number every month. Clearly, he has some kind of CMS that tells him to do so. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t tell him how to do it. Marketing strategy doesn’t seem to play into his ritual.
It doesn’t help that he mumbles and has no intonation in his voice. Conversations with him are painful. It’s not so much the struggle to understand what he’s saying that’s the worst part. Instead, it’s the useless approach he takes to this process of follow-up.
“Hello this is ___ ____. I’m just calling . . . “
Right – that’s about the size of it.
There’s nothing friendly, exciting or intriguing about his message – now mostly (and thankfully) handled by voicemail. He never shares anything interesting – nor does he offer any leads or ideas for mine. In fact, he usually spends most of the conversation telling me how bad business is, complaining about tenants or government officials and mostly causing me to forget what time is it as I look at my watch (yes I still wear one) at minute intervals that seem like hours.
When I think of how he likely spends dozens of hours a month, it’s no wonder his business is suffering. Of course, it’s always the fault of other people, the economy, circumstances – it doesn’t matter the reason, someone else is to blame.
I get today’s scene is about putting it all out there (the next time I hear a comment prefaced with ‘my generation’ I’m going to hit something), but come on – doesn’t anyone use their head anymore? If you’re trying to bolster credibility, spending majority time enumerating the ways you’re failing doesn’t do it.
The phone can serve as a great part of your marketing strategy
With so much being handled by e-mail these days, setting yourself apart by picking up the phone or posting a stamp to a letter can be huge as a part of and effective promotional or outreach mix, provided you put some thought into why someone would want to hear from you.
In today’s typical thumb response to communications, you can really stand out by applying some old-school marketing strategies to stand out from the crowd. This requires a little bit of forethought, though.
Merely annoying someone with a regimented approach to “touch base” isn’t going to do it. Successful small business owners are busy. They don’t have time to spend with someone meandering through a sales pitch (or networking “opportunity”). Most are polite, but sooner or later, even the kindest will start screening you out of prime time priorities.
Think before you initiate contact
I find it curious that the new mantra is relationship marketing.
Good business communications has always required this.
If you can’t craft a message – whether written, verbal or visual – that shows you get your customers’ perspectives, it’s going to be a lot harder to convince them you are the right provider for their needs.
Conversely, if you go at it making your input helpful, valuable and memorable, they’ll think of you first when it comes time to buy or refer another to what you offer.
If you’re going to interrupt someone with a phone call, make sure you’re prepared to offer something that gets the recipient’s attention. It’s easy to find a new resource, lead or contact that pertains to your customer’s interests. Be ready with something that adds value to their day.
No – everything doesn’t need to be free!
Obviously, if your follow-up system involves phone calls, you can’t charge a prospect for listening to you. What you can do, though, is give them something they appreciate that will lead to a sale.
Back to my mumbling monthly moment crasher – I’ve known this guy for almost two decades. He did bring me in on a large contract some time ago that I appreciated and strove to reciprocate. Sadly, every lead I sent to him called me back and complained. I feel a stronger commitment to my clients and valued contacts – and my mindset – than I do to supporting his business these days.
Curiously, he starts every call (now voice mail message) with “I haven’t heard from you in a while.” My reaction (not stated) to this is, “have you considered wondering why?” Of course, if he was really interested in what I was doing (it’s a great idea to do this before you make a call ;-)), he could look at any of my websites, Google me or spend a moment on Linked In. Even if he read this blog (I know he doesn’t – tip: do this with prospects or referral agents you are pursuing), he wouldn’t see himself in the illustration.
Being a successful small business owner happens when you recognize your strengths and weaknesses. I try to address my shortcomings but mostly cheat by delegating. If you’re not willing or able to do that, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you need to fix to succeed.
Prospecting (or networking) requires a lot more than contact (or attending an event where you shove business cards in people’s hands). You need to think. The good news is, so few do. If you prepare your outreach by doing a little bit of research before you make the call, send the e-mail, broadcast on social media or schedule a meeting, you’ll seem magnificent compared to most of the rest. Standing out is now easy for motivated and savvy entrepreneurs.
Have you found a fun marketing strategy to get people’s attention by impressing them with yours? Please share in the comments below (and click the social links to the left of this article if you liked what you read).