“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” –Napoleon Hill
As it is for many freelancers, December was looking to be a slow month for me – potentially a zero-billables month. I know the work is out there, but how do I get to it? How do I motivate prospects to take a chance on me during this slow month in an even slower economy?
Answer – remove the risk and increase the motivation by offering a serious price reduction. I set about to create a direct e-mail letting current customers and potential prospects know that they can have my services at 50% off for any work contracted and started by December 19 or until my calendar was booked.
It’s now one week out. Checking my e-mail marketing provider iContact campaign stats, out of 40 sent, only 5 were opened and 4 of the 5 were from existing customers. So, what went wrong here?
The questions I will be asking are the very question all B2B e-mail campaigns should be asking:
Is my message relevant? Understanding and addressing the needs of your prospect is key, which means you need to put yourself in their shoes. It’s a shift of mind-set from why you think they need you.
Is my message compelling? It’s not enough to be interesting and get attention. You need to stimulate action. Is your offer powerful enough to get your prospects to respond? Be sure you address issue that your prospects face every day.
Is the timing right? Prospects and customers have different buying cycles. Sometimes these are in synch with budgets or product launches, or sometimes they are better or worse depending on the month of the year or quarter. It’s difficult to predict unless you have insider information, which really means you have to keep fishing because you never know when they may bite.
Is my contact info accurate? Gathering info on prospects is the toughest thing to do. Through some sleuthing with LinkedIn and a little detective work, you can generally figure out who your prospect should be and sometimes even figure out the correct e-mail address format. If you get it wrong, it will bounce – never reaching your intended prospect.
Am I reaching the right person in the right role? It’s best when your message reaches the decision maker, but at the very least it should reach the decision influencer. Anyone else and your message is easily lost.
What should I expect as a response to the first touch? It’s common knowledge that the higher the price of the product, the longer the sales cycle. This means establishing trust over time through multiple touches. You may have to reduce your expectations if this is your first contact with your prospect. They don’t know you and haven’t established trust.
What are the factors beyond my control? You feel you’ve done everything right so why aren’t they beating your door down? Sometimes there are just things you can’t control. Things like a tough economy, company politics, prospects focused on other priorities, and budget freezes. Adjust your expectations here and keep at it. The good news is things are always changing.
The good news is I did pick up three new jobs this week which will keep me fairly busy in December. And, I will continue to connect with these same prospects, having analyzed what worked and what didn’t in last campaign.