New business development copywriting: Stalled prospects

September is the time business gets down to work after the summer break.  Blair Enns at the Win Without Pitching team say this is the perfect time to clean out your list of prospects and new business opportunities.

Find out which ones are going to buy and which aren’t worth your time chasing further.  Blair writes

Below is a simple email template that you can use to raise deals from the dead. It works throughout the year but this week, more than any other period in the calendar, is when it works best.

THE EMAIL

It was taught to me as The Takeaway but I refer to it by the subject line that I prefer: Closing The Loop. Draft it, modify it if you dare, but send it to all those prospects you were talking to over the summer about real projects only for them to disappear on you. That’s the intended purpose of this email – to raise deals from the dead and solicit a response from someone who has been avoiding you over the summer.

Your natural inclination is probably to do the opposite of what I’m about to suggest. Resist. Do not send an overly polite email. Do not make excuses for your prospect’s behaviour over the last few weeks. Do not email in pursuit of a yes or even an answer. No, your mission is to strip away all emotions and matter-of-factly just let your prospect go. Below is how to do this and then what to expect afterwards.

Ready?

Read the detailed email Blair recommends

Facebook Icon On Fire

How Facebook Boosted My Newsletter Subscribers

Email or FacebookFacebook hasn’t replaced any newsletter (at least not yet but you never know what Facebook’ll do next). What Facebook has done is equal the amount of traffic driven to our website from our weekly newsletter.  And helped us to recruit new opted-in newsletter subscribers.

Better yet – it’s all free.

Key things to note: Our weekly newsletter has over 4,500 subscribers. Our Facebook page had just 400 (over the course of this experiment we increased this to 550).  Wow – that’s ten times fewer subscribers but they’re visiting and re-visiting the website.

Everyone knows the theory of email newsletters – their open and clickthrough rates so I won’t waste time here. We’re going to tell you how you can drive more traffic to your website from Facebook.  Then invite visitors to join the newsletter.

What we were doing

We posted 3 times a day on Facebook, for Facebook – all of which was shared from other users and pages on Facebook. These posts were backed up by regular blog post entries (one every day) which were automatically fed to our Timeline. Very standard.

So what did we change?

There were 3 major changes.

  1. The first was to do with posting amounts and timing. We increased the frequency of posting and changed what time of day we posted Facebook updates. This was increased to 5-6 times a day (effectively doubling our previous posting frequency).
  2. The second major change is where we post from. We changed all sources of our posts to our website and then linked to them.
  3. Our third major change was where we sourced our content from. It’s important to note here we hardly ever created original content – we either shared others or repurposed our archived content.

To facilitate changing the source of our posts to our website we installed new plugins. People will spend less time on our Facebook page because we are directing them to our website. As a result, many of the plugins we installed were to make sure our content is still shared (which often doesn’t happen once you leave a social media site). As we knew many of our visitors would also be arriving from a mobile device (Facebook’s App is becoming more widely used) we paid particular attention to how our site looks on mobile devices.

Step 1: Smarter Posting Times

Our audience is active at all times of the day. We were initially posting 3 times daily between 9am and 5pm – Not the smartest move when you look at the graph below of our visitor traffic over 24 hours.

When Fans Are Online

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For this reason – we opted to post every 4-5 hours. Remember – we don’t want this to take up all our time and we definitely don’t want to be up all night so we chose to schedule our Facebook posts. To enable auto-posting of blog at all times of day we installed new plugins which I’ll discuss below.

Step 2: Make The Website The Destination

We want to drive traffic off Facebook to our website.  This is marketing real estate that we control and manage.  We’re not dependent on Facebook’s grace.  Making most of your posts direct to your website is therefore logical.  And remember our objective is to drive readers from Facebook to becoming opted-in newsletter subscribers.

This of course means publishing content designed for Facebook on your website. Whether you’re sharing an article or a photo, upload it to your site (add a link on the post to credit the photograph if appropriate).  Don’t just link them straight to the original source, ideally you’re seen as the source of the content so they spend longer on your site and less elsewhere.

With our new plugins – photos are uploaded from our website to Facebook automatically. When a user clicks on a photo expecting it to enlarge they are instead redirected to our website (where there is a larger image front and centre). Bingo – we’ve just driven traffic from Facebook to our site. From here you have 2 challenges –

  1. How can they share this with their friends?
  2. What’s going to keep them from leaving your site?

The first challenge is easily answered – plugins which I will discuss later on. The second is to have an attractive website littered with quality content – this is discussed just below.

Step 3: Sourcing Quality, “Original” Content

To ensure our content is appealing, we need it to be socially shareable. While there are no guarantees, using already proven socially shareable content is a start. But you don’t want to appear a copycat. So how do you get proven socially shareable material while still looking “fresh” and “original”? The easiest strategy is to find content from sources other than Facebook. Pinterest was a great resource for me as pictures make the best Facebook posts and most photos came with a short description or piece of information – perfect.

Setting Up Your Website: Plugins Used

Below is a list of the plugins you’ll want to install if you’re on WordPress. I’ve described the types of plugins you want before stating what plugin we used. These plugins are all free and you may have your own preference.

  1. New Automatic Posting To Social Media (Facebook/Twitter).

    • NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster [Hands down the best autoposter plugin. Fully customisable, plenty of social media options and looks like the posts were shared straight from Facebook. 2 great features of this plugin are that you can choose individual posts to be image posts or linked posts etc & Imports Facebook comments so your website appears popular]

  2. A more simple “Like Us” button further up the News main page.

    • Facebook Social Plugin Widgets (This plugin installs widgets to be used wherever – we used them in the sidebar of our blog page [note page and not post])

  3. When someone enters our site (for the first time) a like us on Facebook plugin pops up [This doesn’t interfere with our pre-existing Newsletter signup popup].

  4. Horizontal social sharing toolbar along the top is non intrusive and doesn’t cover any text unlike many vertical floating ones.

  5. Sharing of individual pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest by simply hovering your mouse over the picture.

  6. Floating Sharebar down that follows the user down the side of the post. It allows sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc

    • Digg Digg (Leave a comment if you’d like my custom CSS code so the spacings etc look nice and clean with no borders or ads)

  7. Mobile Plugin so website looks good on every device

 

Results?

Results of Our 1st Change

So what were the results of our changes? The graph below reveals all. With a simple change in the frequency and timing of posts our weekly reach exploded. This is most likely due to reaching more individuals as opposed to reaching the same people multiple times.

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Results of Our 2nd Change

The screenshot below is of our website’s referrals for the 2 week period before and during our Facebook efforts. As you can see, vast improvements. We basically received 1000 extra page views each week (remember, at the time we only had 400 people liking our page). I’ve highlighted the Twitter referrals as well (t.co) as although we designed this campaign for Facebook – using the NextScript Autoposter plugin we also published the same content to Twitter (although we changed the structure of the titles and links etc from within the plugin’s settings). You’ll notice the amount of referrals we got from Facebook Mobile (m.facebook.com). Good thing we had WPtouch installed so our page would look good on any device.

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Did Our Plugins Do Their Job?

I was initially skeptical when installing the Facebook Page Promoter Lightbox – no one likes popups. After 2 weeks though, we picked up 50 likes from external “Like” buttons. These buttons were only in 2 places, the first was in the sidebar on the blog page the second was the aforementioned lightbox. I’m almost 100% sure the lightbox is where we picked up all of those likes.

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Sling pic and both social sharing bars (vertical and horizontal) picked up a few extra “Likes” and retweets which was nice – nothing to write home about but every little bit counts. WPtouch can be attributed to the 13 mobile likes as although it means people liked our Page from Facebook (on a mobile device), the website must have been attractive enough to have convinced them.

Conclusion

The initial results are all very promising, only time will tell how good a long term strategy this is. The short term gains were an instant increase in likes going from 400 to 550 in 2 weeks, engagement going up and a large increase in unique visitors and page views. There were of course more minor, intricate strategic choices made during this period and still being made now – these will be discussed in a later post.

 

If you’d like any help setting these plugins up or want to discuss how this can apply to your online strategy get in touch by leaving a comment below.

How to find contact details on Linked In outside your network

You have read everything on our Resources page haven’t you?

Readers, you are in biz dev, you want leads for your business and you need to get contact details of key personnel in target organisations:  Have you read the B2B Lead Generation slidedeck?  It’s linked right there on the Resources page – top of the list.

Today we add in more goodness to that research process.

How to find contact details for someone outside your network

This is a fabulous process from Andy Foote’s blog.

LinkedIn makes money by limiting search. One of the most annoying restrictions is being unable to see Last Names on LinkedIn searches. Fortunately Google to the rescue. Here are step by step instructions on getting full name Profiles.

(1) Start the search in People. My example: “hr manager accenture”

(2) “Mary F” is the prospect but I need her Last Name. – Linked in will only show a limited profile because she’s outside my network.  But it does say that she is an Outsourcing Manager at Accenture

(3) Copy “Outsourcing HR Manager at Accenture Toronto Canada Area” into Google and click on the search icon.

(4) Bingo! Click on the Google Search result and you find the full name Profile (of Mary Frank).

How cool is that?

Read Andy’s full blog post of 5 Exceedingly clever LinkedIn hacks

5 Questions to ask a creative agency at your pitch

Interviewing the brand and being interviewed as the agency are core skills for pitching.

Getting to “the close” for new business and a signature on the contract requires a clear purchase decision from a brand decision maker.  If you are pitching to a brand – prepare for these questions that they should be asking you.

When you get invited to pitch there are 2 reasons you are in the room

  1. Your track record indicates you should be good enough to do the job
  2. Your future WILL deliver an excellent job
The questions are designed to reassure the brand marketing team that you will be in their future – collaborating, partnering.

Chief Marketing Officer pitch questions to agency

So how can you tell what the future of this agency will be?  the same old, same old competent delivery of past campaigns or new and exciting incremental creativity that will accelerate your brand in front of consumers?

First question: Vision

What do you, the agency, think is the future of marketing/advertising?

You want to know whether they are aware of new technologies, brands moving to new social platforms and integrating mobile solutions into their campaigns.

Second question: New Hires

Tell us about the new team members who have joined this past year.

What are the characteristics of these people and why did they join the team?  Are they crazy future-ologists, or competent deliverers.  Will they bring new expertise to the team (see answer to question 1 above) and can you see your brand leveraging their knowledge to advantage?

Third question: Team Structure

What is your creative team structure and composition?

Listen hard to how many ‘traditional’ job titles are described.  Find out about the digital specialists – are they in a separate group who get brought in to assist or are they part of the core delivery group.  What about outsourcing production and expert tool creation – how honest is the agency about areas in which they are not expert and are buying in talent.

Fourth question: Modern Marketing Communications

Tell us about recent campaigns that were not advertising-led

How many message delivery tools have they used that were not print or TV advertising, direct mail/email or public relations.  Look for innovation and incorporation of ‘gamification’, apps, integration with social media (leading edge at the time of writing is Pinterest, G+), brand collaborations and joint ventures.

Fifth question: The Delivery Team

Who will be working on our account and why?

The individual attributes of the core account team matter.  This will help you get round the agency that pitches with one team and delivers with another.  Why does the agency pick each individual and what are their skills – you’ve got to work with these people.  Go and check them all out on Linked In and Facebook.

The Agency’s reply 6 questions

We found this post from W+K London in which they tried to give the reciprocal questions the agency should ask the client.

  1. Who are the decision makers on the pitch and on the agency’s work?
  2. What are your criteria for judging the success of your agency’s work?
  3. Is your inclination to aim high and do something extraordinary, or to settle for the ordinary and avoid the risk of failure?
  4. What made you consider us for this pitch?
  5. How many agencies are pitching and who are they?
  6. Will you pay a pitch fee?

Go forth and pitch.  But be careful!

Thanks to Edward Boches for the original inspiration for this article

Read more articles on 3 New Business Pipeline and 6 Creating Opportunities from our archive.

 

 

Selling disguised as market research

Business development tricks of the trade:

Have you ever tried disguising new business prospecting as ‘market research’?

Finding new customers to discuss your business products and services with is difficult for many people.  Many people have a natural fear of the unknown and ‘cold calling’ strikes a death-knell in many people’s darkest fears.

Let Creative Agency Secrets show you some of the insiders tricks of the trade –

and learn to find an easy way to discuss new business without the fear and pain.

We all need Market Research

Market research is a valid business activity – without it you cannot know what the market and pricing is for your services and products.   What few people realise is that many prospective customers are happy to give their advice and opinion to you, free of charge in the name of market research.  They are frequently motivated by the hope that if your situations were reversed, you would assist them.

Asking questions about how other people view your products is very easy to do.

Email introduction for market research survey

Imagine this – an email asking for 15 minute meeting to get an opinion about a new service offering.

Dear Rebecca, we’re planning a new email list de-duplicaiton service for launch in the autumn,  As a previous customer of XYZ co, we’d value your opinion on the features and pricing of this service.  

Could you spare us 15 minutes on a conference call to give us your views?If you have time next week, I’ll send over a short briefing note explaining our plans. 

Best wishes

Could you send something like that out?  Individually and personally addressed?  You could send it using Linked In using their mass-mail feature?  Maybe add in a ‘poll’ if you want a voting response (though this is less personal).

Case study – market research for affiliate consulting services

One of our coaching clients has plans for a new environmental consultancy around carbon credits. The two partners in the business have found a service they want to sell and asked our advice about pricing.

We recommended contacting prospective customers and seeking meetings or phone conversations with them to do market research into their appetitie for this service.

Not only does this approach allow a direct conversation with a possible decision-maker; it allows you time to explain exactly what your product/service does and how the customer might benefit. They listen carefully because it’s a ‘market research’ dialogue not a sales pitch.

Nice, eh?

 

Additional thoughts

Our client is a busy lady who works in 2 businesses – building up the new one while running the existing one. We discussed how she prioritise her time. Our conclusion was that if she could specify the 3 questions needing answers from the market research, her business partner could do the calls and visits. In this way she can ‘direct’ the work but spend her time on the other, income-generating business while still progressing developments on the new venture.

See other articles about Pipeline development and Opportunity creation by searching the categories on the right.

How to make inbound enquiries work for you

One of the nicest things about getting your biz dev working well is when inbound enquiries start to come to the business.

I am working with Websters , a niche chartered accountancy practice specialising in service charge accounting.  They have worked hard on a new website and blog as well as some collateral and internal management structures to support business development.

Websters aren't yet ready for the big formal launch event for the site and while it's broadly complete, we are continuing to use it and improve some of the features.  

And so I am surprised and delighted to find that people are signing up to receive their newsletter, the RSS feed and printed brochureware about the business.

Setting up the fields

When I set up the fields for the enquiry form  I originally thought that a simple Name, Email, Company name and country would suffice. 

But I was surprised by the number of folk who want to receive information about the Websters company.

This leaves them with a choice – send electronic information or print.  But for print we need a postal address.  This gave me an idea….

Rather than change the form to include postal address information, why not just research them online and phone them up. This is good becausse

  1. you can find out if they are a real person
  2. you can ask them if they prefer print or emailed information (customer chooses)
  3. you can do a bit of"digging research" into their organisation for your database
  4. you can ask them straight out if they want to have a credentials presentation or chemistry meeting
  5. you can make a fair assessment of whether they are a prospect and at what stage of the pipeline.

Hooray – i know what we'll do – a targeted phone calling session.