For those of you know me, you know I am the owner of an advertising agency (Adqua) and a soon to launch ecommerce publishing platform (iazo). So how may you ask could a marketing and advertising expert be getting his direct marketing approach so wrong for the last year?
I’ll tell you…
I’ve been doing advertising for a long time. I’m an expert in paid digital advertising methods such as Google Ads and social media. I know all the right gears and levers to push and pull to make my client companies see a strong ROI on their ad dollars. But in true irony I have always struggled to advertise my own company using the same methods I use for my clients. Advertising an ad agency is not easy!
So about a year ago I started heavily ramping up my direct sales methods on LinkedIn. Instead of relying on inbound marketing (like what I do for my clients) I turned my attention to an outbound approach. I decided to take control of who I was talking to and go directly after my target audience. Makes sense, right?
Being that my target audience are typically small and medium size business owners, that is who I started reaching out to. I’m not a fan of the various in-mail methods on LI, so instead I sent connection requests in mass directly to business owners. I wrote a great connection request message to peak interest, and I’m still using that same message today more or less. The way I figured it, even if only 25% of people accepted my connection request and only a fraction of those engaged me in conversation, I was still increasing my network either way.
Each and every week I would send out those connection requests and I would usually see a 25-35% acceptance rate. Not bad! But here is where I went the wrong direction. After that initial acceptance I was sending a pre-written response where I would fill out the person’s name (and sometimes company name), and basically tell them what I do and how Adqua could help their business.
I spent about a year tinkering with dozens of different versions of that follow up message. A little more info here, a little less there, maybe include the link to my business, maybe not, maybe offer a discount, try to keep it short and straight forward, etc, etc, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong copywriter and an observer of human interaction. I wrote some great messages, but they were only responded to here and there. I struggled to engage people in real conversations which could lead to clients.
As I write this newsletter now it all seems so obvious to me, but how did I miss it? How did I not realize the simplest of things with human interaction… actually interacting!
I don’t know about you, but I am marketed to non-stop on LI. And 99% of those marketing messages all do the same thing. They say who the person is, what their business is about, and then they pitch. I actually read many of those messages, sometimes just to study them, and sometimes because I am curious. Sometimes I even reply!
To get to my point, I realized recently that the simplest way to engage people in any kind of new business or opportunity is simply to speak with them. Instead of writing a pre-written response to all my new connections I am now writing each of them a short and simple human reply. I am looking at their profile first to see who they are and what they do. When I write them that first message it is now different every time. I write to them what I am curious about and what I would like to know about their business.
Business owners don’t want to be pitched to. They want an opportunity to meet new people and talk about themselves and their passions. That is the level I now engage every single new connection on. Hello so-and-so, thank you for connecting with me. I see you’re in this line of business. That reminds me of something, or, that is interesting for this reason. I’d love to learn more.
I’m not even mentioning my ad agency now in many of these initial messages. Sometimes I simply allude to it and say I’m happy to tell you more if you’re interested. My intent is to start a conversation with a person, and to do that they need to feel welcomed and interesting to me. Find things to speak about and common ground. Make a connection a real connection, and then you can see if there’s room to sell services.
You know what the best part about doing sales this way is? You actually get to really talk to people and make interesting connections that can go beyond the pitch or the next sale. I was recently lucky enough to meet someone this way on LI, and I think it may even turn into a friendship.
I used to dread doing another round of outreach on LI, but now I find myself looking forward to it. Who will I get to speak with, and what doors will that open?
So the next time you think of pitching someone, try just speaking to them first. You may be amazed by what comes next!
Want me to help with your advertising and marketing?
Please setup a free consultation at Adqua or email me at Michael@adqua.com