I don’t know about you, but I receive somewhere around six to 12 “cold” solicitation contacts by email or phone every day. As an executive at our agency, I suppose that I appear on a lot of lists that salespeople purchase to try to get their foot in the door for a meeting. Unfortunately for the folks trying, I respond to very, very few such messages. First, a lot of them are for services that my business just doesn’t need; and second, my time is extremely limited. Plus, there’s the fact that I have a huge personal network with WPP and there is a sister agency I can trust for virtually any service we require. I feel like a jerk sometimes for spurning cold-call advances, but I lived that life when I was selling lawn care out of a phone book in college. And in my job today I have to try a few cold calls every once in a while, too.
I’ve seen every strategy in the book, ranging from sending stuffed animals, to people saying they were “referred” to me by some unknown mutual contact. One guy even tried calling me twice a day for more than a month straight. But a few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from Chris Abraham, a fellow blogger and President and COO of buzz agency Abraham & Harrison. Here was the introduction of his email to me:
Hi there Bob
I wanted to reach out to you since you’re a current fellow member of the AdAge Power 150 with Marketing With Meaning. Please excuse the form email but there are over 780 current Power 150 members. I am popping you this note for two reasons: first, I would like your help to do something with this list; second, I just want to update you as to what I am up to.”
Chris goes on to write about a file he was willing to send with the names and email addresses of all of the other members of the AdAge Power 150. This shiny needle in the haystack of business spam caught my eye for a few reasons: First, Chris is a fellow blogger rather than just another sales guy. We have something in common and it means he probably knows his stuff. This established immediate respect. Second, he offered something of value to me and my business in the form of the Power 150 contact list. He was essentially giving away a valuable piece of data that he worked hard to create, and one that his competitors could use to contact the same people he is going after.
By offering up “marketing” that itself was valuable, Chris was practicing Marketing with Meaning. And guess what? I immediately replied to Chris and set up 30 minutes to give him an opportunity to sell me on his services. I found Chris to be very smart and personable, I listened closely to his pitch, and I asked him to follow up with the person on my team who works closest on blogger outreach programs. I didn’t buy anything on the spot, and I’m not sure if we’ll need his company’s services, but Chris achieved a critical sales goal of getting a foot in the door with a key decision maker, all because he added value.
There are more than 780 other people on the Power 150 list, and I’d guess that Chris is getting a lot of other meetings because of this approach. He even got a feature post on this blog! His example shows that Marketing with Meaning can be applied by both small businesses and business-to-business marketers.
All it takes is to think about how you can do something with that phone call or email that actually adds value to your prospect’s life. And if you can’t figure that out yet, don’t bother picking up the phone.