Small business owners, unite! We all get inundated with sales calls, emails, uninvited drop-ins or our mailboxes littered with poorly designed literature and our cars covered in pamphlets while we run into the grocery store.
It’s enough to make you wonder – does anyone really have success with cold calls and bad marketing? Apparently the answer is yes, or they wouldn’t keep doing it. But at the end of the day, sales quota aside, is that how you want to market your business?
At our old house, every spring, our mailbox would get a flyer advertising lawn services pinned to it at least once a week. Each flyer for a different company. And year after year, I never saw any of these companies working in our neighborhood. There were my guys, Rawlings Lawn & Landscape that I had used for years who I met via them reaching out to me to help them with their first website & marketing plan. I had talked so highly of them to our neighbors that they got 3-4 more clients out of our little circle of friends. And there were a few other companies that worked around, but maybe 2-3 different companies max that had been working that neighborhood for years.
These flyers for new companies would come in every spring, sometimes offering a 30-50% discount to what we were paying (which was quite a feat, as Rawlings’ rates are very reasonable). So not only were they spending their afternoons driving up and down multiple neighborhoods and spending their money printing out flyers – they were charging so little that it would have had to been nearly impossible to turn a profit.
And while those types of poor-advertising folks don’t really grind my gears – the never ending rotation of sales weasels that call my phone number unsolicited and fill up my spam folder are the bane of my existence.
In 10+ years of being in business for myself, there hasn’t been ONE time a sales weasel has caught me on the phone trying to sell me something I wasn’t asking for that turned me around. Again, not saying cold calls don’t work, clearly they must work for some people somewhere. But it’s such a difficult sale to make – why not use other easy-to-access methods of marketing to warm people up before giving them the pitch?
I realize that I’ve been blessed over the years to not have to spend a lot of time or resources on marketing or sales. We had a few early notable clients that were happy to refer us to friends and associates and that along with some well-placed partnerships in trustworthy connections has turned into us managing over 160 websites for organizations across the country. We haven’t needed to do cold calling or blanket emailing to lists of people we don’t know. But I do know that if I did have to start drumming up more business, I’d do it differently.
Our leads generally come to us a little further down the sales funnel, so in a general sense, we cater our website’s content to those people. We’re not looking to spend time convincing a bunch of business owners that don’t think they need or want a website that they’re wrong. They are wrong, but I’m not going to spend the time to show them that they are.
Our ideal clients know that they don’t have the internal resources to be successful with their online marketing and know they need help. From there, I can show them that I mean business, I’ve fixed many problems for many organizations just like theirs over the years and I’m going to help them make decisions that help them find success online. I’m not spending time convincing someone they need a website along with a strong online marketing plan – I’m spending time showing the people that know that already that I’m the right fit for their team.
The more educated the prospect, the more they’ll buy into what you’re selling them. And I’m not talking about years of schooling; I’m talking about the more YOU educate them about how you can meet their needs and make their lives easier. We have clients of all sizes & needs. Some that know that they need ‘something’ of a website out there – so we did that. And we also have clients that know a website isn’t enough, so we do more for them – online reputation management, email marketing, content marketing, to name a few of the services we provide.
The more we can do to show our clients and our prospects the value of what we’re able to provide as an internet marketing agency, the more they’ll find resources to have us help them out in those ways. Because the landscape of internet marketing is always changing, this is a conversation that constantly evolves with each client. And as clients’ businesses change, so do their needs. We spend a good deal of time offering continued education to our clients and prospects of what they should be doing online and how to get better. And if they want to work with us to make that happen, then we’re available to do so.
My main problem with the mailbox lawn service advertisers is the price they were pitching. $20/weekly to mow & trim my lawn + clean up? We had a small yard, but still, even if it took you a half hour to get that done – there’s no way you’re taking enough time to do a quality job. Or if you are taking time to do a quality job, you’re not paying your people enough which means they’re going to eventually cut corners (or not cut corners in this instance.)
I’m sure people have seen that price, said that they’re currently paying twice that much and made the switch. But I’m also sure that they’ve regretted it half way through the season. “It’s probably too good to be true” is a popular saying for a reason.
There are better ways to meet prospects and close sales. Educate your prospects, show them that you’re reliable and don’t wear bad cologne and you’ll be the next Zig Ziglar in no time.