for creative entrepreneurs

Episode 82: The Art of the Cold Call

When my cell phone rings, I often joke with my kids that it’s probably my good friend Potential, Potential Spam. Nine out of ten times it is indeed a robot. And every day when I check my email I have to delete multiple unsolicited messages from marketers who somehow escaped my spam filter. Even on LinkedIn it seems like every other message is from an automated drip campaign. We all hate these time-wasting intrusions. And so we surely don’t want to be counted among those that use such irritating methods. And yet, at a basic level, much of your marketing involves reaching out to prospects who don’t yet know you. Is there a way to approach a cold prospect and not be immediately lumped in with the spammers?

In an ideal world all your prospects would find you, and take the initiative to reach out to learn about your services. This can and does happen, and a good content strategy, with disciplined social media posting, can increase your inbound leads. But there are also many potential prospects who will never discover you on their own.

But you can discover them, and when you do you’ll need to introduce yourself. But how? What should you say? And in that moment of initial introduction, how can you avoid being tagged as an unwelcome salesman?

There are ways of reaching out to prospects that will be received and accepted. There are principles to follow that can open doors rather than having them be slammed in your face. Two of the most important principles are personalization and relevance. No matter what channel you use to reach out, email, LinkedIn, Social media, or even cold calls, if you respect both these principles, you’ll distinguish yourself from the spamming hordes.

If you’re following the path of PinPoint Positioning then your relevancy will already be obvious to just about every prospect you message. They may not end up being interested in your offer, but they will at least understand why you reached out. For example, consider the contrast, from the prospects’s perspective, of some random designer reaching out with a general message about the importance of branding and asking if you need a new logo. Such untargeted messages don’t pass the spam test and will be ignored, or worse flagged as spam. But if you’re a package designer, specialising in hardware packaging, and you reach out to a product manager at Stanley Tools about a new technique that improves sell through while reducing costs—that prospect will at least appreciate the information you lead with, and understand why you reached out.

Relevancy makes a huge difference, but so does personalization. To some degree a well-targeted message is somewhat personalized to a prospect’s professional interests. But when you add something specific about them as an individual, your messaging will be even more effective.

For example, I recently got an email from a social media marketer who specializes in podcasts. He mentioned this by name, referencing the content of the episode on “How to Avoid Toxic Clients” in a way that demonstrated that he took the time to listen to it. He briefly explained exactly he could help with social media marketing, and even spent the time to give the podcast a rating and review. Contrast that with the many emails I get from podcast promoters who offer to connect me with people to interview on my Podcast. Despite the fact that I’ve chosen a five minute monologue format, and I’ve never conducted an interview. When you take the time to learn something particular about your prospect, and mention it, that personalization will set you apart and signals that your message is not part of a mass automated campaign.

Of course such personalization takes time. It can require several minutes per prospect, at least. And so you can’t do this on a mass scale. That’s why you need to make marketing a steady habit. You’ll need to work your list, a little bit each day, slowly working through it over time.

I should mention that even when you do follow the principles of relevance and personalization there are some cranky individuals out there that will react negatively to any unsolicited message, no matter how reasonable or personal your approach—and a very small set of those will let you know about it. Don’t let that exceptionally rare crank dissuade you from your efforts. After all, those who will respond, and who will end up benefiting from your services, will be really glad you took the time to introduce yourself.

Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.

Are you ready to take the struggle out of finding new clients?