Previously, we covered how you could pre-qualify 10 ideal clients that you’d like to work with (missed that post? Read this first.)
Now, I’m going to introduce a strategy that will help you get in front of the people on your list, and maybe even walk away with a client or two.
The biggest single mistake people make when reaching out to someone they don’t know is their failure to produce value.
Not to toot my own horn, but now that I’ve grown a sizable audience I get people I don’t know emailing me all the time.
And a lot of them fail the “me” test — that’s right, what’s in it for me? The focus is so heavily about them (this is me, these are my problems, HELP ME!) that when I see a giant walk of text that’s all about someone I don’t even know and their needs, my natural inclination is to archive the email and move on. (I make it a point to try to respond to every email, however. The same isn’t true of the companies on your hit list!)
The single best-written example of why cold contact works / doesn’t work from the perspective of someone on the receiving end is by Noah Kagan. Take a minute or two to read his analysis of a cold email he received…
Noah lists out 6 things you need to include whenever doing any sort of cold outreach. I want to focus on two of them:
- Benefit – Why should the reader care? If the takeaway of your email or phone call is “this guy or gal wants my money”, you’ve failed!
- Call To Action – Decisions are the bane of busy executives worldwide. Closing with “when are you free to chat?” requires someone taking the time to reflect on their calendar; “does Tuesday at 10am work for you?” is a binary question… it either works, or it doesn’t work.
“Hi John Doe, my name is Brennan Dunn and I work with companies like yours to build mobile applications. I’d like to talk with you about Acme Corp and see how I can help… <CLICK>”
That didn’t go very far, did it?
“Hi John Doe, congrats on taking home a “Top 10 To Watch” award this year! I’ve been following your company for a while, and love what your doing to help the local business community — I run a blog focused on local businesses, and would love to do a feature on Acme Corp. Any chance you’re free next Wednesday at 10am for me to come by and tour your company?”
Immediately the focus is on John Doe and his company. I’ve done my homework, and he knows it. And you’ve basically pushed a Trojan Horse (though a totally non-evil one) up against the wall of Acme Corp: you want access to their inner sanctum because you want to help promote their business.
Scratching your head for topics to blog about? Use the above, and profile the kind of businesses you want to work with. Don’t just profile them, talk about what they’re doing right, and offer some pro-bono-consulting-at-scale by asking questions during your interview, and responding in your writeup. Rinse and repeat.
Here’s what this does for your business (and then we’ll wrap up):
- You provide value in the form of bettering Acme Corp (asking questions relevant to your field and responding in your writeup) and by promoting the company.
- You’ve kicked off a relationship with a business that you had zero relationship with before.
- John Doe will likely pass around your write-up within his network.
- You have evergreen content on your blog / website that showcases your ability to ask questions and provide solutions.
Ultimately, a successful consulting business is built off of relationships, and the above strategy is a great way to seed these relationships.
Now, what do you do when you don’t have a way to reach out to John Doe? Or when you have 100 companies on your hit list and would like to delegate this to someone else? We’ll cover that in a future post!