Since my July piece in Research, I have been focusing on “best practices.” Any treatment of best practices must include “blocking and tackling” — a sports metaphor that is well-defined by marketing and innovation expert John Caddell as meaning “work that’s not glamorous but is important.” While there are several “blocking and tackling” strategies, the most important is your contact strategy.
A contact strategy is your roadmap to reaching out to the groups on which your business survives, grows or perishes. It consists of: (1) What to say — your message; (2) whom to say it to — your segments; (3)how often to say it — frequency; and (4) how to deliver the message — channel.
While I will focus on segments, I will touch on message, frequency and channel. However, my space here is limited. So I have further developed these parts of your contact strategy in my new white paper, “Best Practice #1: Contact Strategy.” A copy, free for the taking, is here: www.billgood.com/contactstrategy.
“Mass mail” is a term I use for people with whom you have no connection or affiliation. All you have are: name, address, phone number and possibly website.
Ideally, your mass mail lists meet these two criteria: (1) Build a list of people who look just like your best clients; (2) select names on which word-of-mouth can occur.
Example: Your best client is an executive VP of a big construction firm. You would then set out to build a list of senior executives of big construction firms because (a) they look just like one of your best clients and (b) they know each other. Your purpose in contacting them is twofold: (a) build an identity of expert financial advisor; (b) create a response converting the mass mail name to a prospect.
Your mass mail lists are fluid. You keep a list until it become unresponsive. Then you throw it out.
A rookie starting out should develop 5,000-8,000 names. Over a period of years, through seminar invitations, informational mailings and cold calling, these should produce 500-800 prospects. But once again, you may throw out many lists to find the 5000 or so names that will produce the prospects.
People You Know
The term I use for these is “connection.” Specifically these are people you know that you would like to do business with but who would feel awkward if you solicited them directly. They can be people you know through a business affiliation, such as the owner of the dealership where you buy a new car every 2-3 years.
Your connections should also include people you know through social, religious, neighborhood, school or other such affiliations. The popular term is “networking.” The key question is: how do you turn your network “connections” into “prospects”?
Answer: you stay in touch with informational, educational or inspirational mailings. You never ask for anything. You might use email occasionally, but only with permission. People like doing business with people they like and trust. Add one other ingredient: need. When they feel the tug of the need, if they like and trust you, they will approach you.But you dare not solicit them because you will have broken a social covenant not to solicit your friends. If you do so consistently, you will build a reputation that will effectively bar you from the networks you have created. That’s why a disciplined mailing or, with permission, emailing campaign is vital. When one of your connections goes through a life transition AND if they are just a little bit unhappy with their current advisor, they will send you an email, call you or ask you a question at a social event. Now you can upgrade them to prospect.
The Prospect List
Your mass mailings and relationship marketing has one objective: produce a prospect. My definition of a prospect is “anyone who has responded to a marketing campaign or been referred that you would like to do business with.”
Key concept: that you would like to do business with. If you don’t like them, if they don’t meet your “ideal client” standards, throw them out. But on the other hand, if they meet this definition, there are only three exits from your prospect list: