When I started my PR/communications firm 18 years ago, my strategy for getting new clients was twofold:
- Look for organizations that had a product or services that needed to be explained in order for their features and benefits to be understood.
- Cold calls, getting on the phone, contact them, and try to get them onboard.
It worked, and many of the clients that signed up with AlturaSolutions then are still with us today. While I do not do a lot of marketing for my firm today, the marketing efforts I do make indicate that only one element of this strategy would still be successful: looking for organizations that have products or services that need to be explained.
As far as telephone cold calls, they have always been difficult and very hit-or-miss for everyone. But in the past few years, at least in the U.S., they are becoming almost worthless as far as reaching decision makers. This is true for virtually all types of companies marketing all types of products and services.
Cold Calls and Zillow
The office across the hall from me here in Chicago is staffed with salespeople marketing advertising spots for a Zillow, major online real estate site for homebuyers. Their salespeople say it can take several calls — almost all going to voicemail — before they get a return call from a potential advertiser, and very often they never hear from them at all. Over the past few years they have received fewer and fewer return calls.
Recognizing that this was a problem, the online real estate company hired an independent market research company to investigate the situation. What they discovered was a true eye-opener.
They found that many of the people these salespeople had been calling no longer even check their voicemail. So all those messages were never heard. They also found the same thing is happening with email. “Probable” sales emails are usually deleted without even being scanned.
I faced this same challenge a few years back because I wanted to secure at least one if not two new clients. Since I dread making cold calls anyway (who doesn’t?) I used the only other marketing technique I know of: I wrote blog after blog and posted them not only on my own company website but on LinkedIn as well as other social media sites. I told myself that if I am encouraging my customers to do this — reminding them of my mantra that “words lead to sales” — that I have to prove it works for myself.
By the end of that time a few years back, we had two new clients, both of which read many of those posts and thought them valuable enough to contact our office and hire us. Now, two new clients may not sound like a lot to most salespeople, but we only work with a handful of clients, so for us, that is plenty.
Because it worked, my sales strategy has changed. I still look for organizations that have products and services that need to be explained, but instead of cold calls, I use quality, educational content to get them in the door. It’s much warmer this way.