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Never Cold Call Again, And Get More Clients Into the Bargain...

Jun 19, 2008
Okay, so that title sounds like a load of phoo-ey, right? (And yes, phoo-ey IS a technical term we marketing gurus use!) Everybody knows that the only way to get new clients is to cold-call, or cold-mail - how else do you find prospects that you might end up doing business with? That is at least how the accepted wisdom goes - and judging by the number of organisations in the UK currently selling lists of prospects carefully segmented by any number of weird and wonderful demographics, the accepted wisdom is still very much accepted. So how can I tell you that you'll get more clients by NOT cold-calling?

Here's something you might not have thought of before: Did you know that organisations like Sainsburys and Barclays Bank cannot cold-call? Now I'm not saying that there's some kind of law that prevents them. Rather, I'm pointing out that it's impossible for them to do so. How's that? Because pretty much anyone who might appear on one of their marketing lists (and that includes virtually everyone over the age of sixteen in the British Isles) has not only heard of them, but also quite likely knows where their nearest branch or store is. The point is that we're not cold prospects - we know them, we're familiar with their logo and their place of business, and we have possibly even had some experience of them. We've already been warmed to them by our previous dealings with them, to the extent that we likely view them as part of our community. And that can make the world of difference to our reception when being marketed to.

Of course, part of the reason for that is the immense marketing and operating budgets at the disposal of these commercial giants. They buy this exposure by running TV commercials and radio slots ad nauseum (or at least it can feel like it!) and by having a physical presence on nearly every High Street in the country. Very few of the professional service organisations we work with have anything more than a fraction of a percent of that financial muscle - but there is still a vital lesson we can learn from their success. The lesson is this: Never market to strangers!

You may notice that the lesson sounds very like our title, and with good reason - cold-calling and cold-mailing are first-rate examples of marketing to strangers. Why not market to strangers? Three reasons (well, four if you count the conclusion): They don't know you, they don't like you, they don't trust you - so they are not going to buy from you! You may want to remember this as the 'know, like and trust threshold' and test every marketing initiative against it. If a marketing initiative hasn't already scaled the 'know, like and trust threshold', keep your money in your pocket.

You're probably thinking 'I've worked every lead I already know, so without marketing to strangers I'm not going to get even one more customer!' We might debate just how effectively you've worked every lead you already know, but let's agree for the purposes of this article that what you say is true. Really, if you want to grow your business you have no alternative but to market to strangers, right?

Ah well, having told you what not to do perhaps I should now share with you what you must do to turn strangers into profitable customers. The answer lies in identifying connections which link you with the strangers you wish to market to. What's a connection? Think of it as an affiliation, a commonality you share with the individual you wish to engage in a marketing conversation. It really doesn't matter that much what the nature of the connection is - are you part of the same church-group? Do you share a hobby? Did you grow up in the same town or attend the same school? Are you subscribed to the same Chamber of Commerce? A connection may even be established by subscribing to the same periodical!

It's a fact that the single greatest human need is acceptance - a need to belong, to feel connected. In this twenty-first century world where the community values of our grandparents no longer have any kind of currency, we fulfil our need for acceptance through a bewildering range of virtual communities - some of them so virtual that they only exist in cyberspace! You would be making a dangerous mistake concluding that the connections we hold have little value - they are actually the most powerful marketing tools we have.

Don't believe me? Then consider this - if you can identify a connection to your prospects, they are no longer strangers! If you're still struggling to see this, perhaps you might want to tell me which of the following is a more persuasive marketing pitch:

o20% Discount on our services during December!

oProduce a Basingstoke and Deane Council Tax bill to receive a 20% 'community' discount during December!

Of course if you're thinking 'Who wants to live in a dump like Basingstoke?' you've just proved my point! We Basingstokers suspect how others feel about us (especially since that 'Crap Towns' book hit the shelves) but we know that we are part of a wonderful warm community and we look after each other. Which may or may not be true - but it's our perception, so nothing could be truer for us. We're connected, see? And we can't be connected to strangers - that's another impossibility.

I strongly urge you to do something right now that will have an immediate impact on your marketing success rates. Take a few minutes to consider where you might find communities with a high percentage of your prospects. Then consider how you might connect with those communities on the basis of joint participation, and frame a marketing campaign that emphasizes your connection.

Before long you'll have added another connection to some of those community members - they'll be profitable clients.

David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

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About the Author
David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, works with Professional Services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level. Through one-on-one mentoring he helps them create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or enquire please visit www.zee2A.com.
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