How do you stand out from the crowd?
This is a question I think about a lot. As founder of TouchingBase.io, I want my business to stand out from the competition. As a web developer, I want to stand out from others in my field. That’s human nature. We all want to be special. We want people to recognize that we’re unique. Heck, we just want people to like us.
As a freelancer or consultant, you face this challenge every day.
How do you make a splash? How can you make new leads pay attention? Especially when they’re busy meeting other people, drowning in email, and distracted by cute kitten videos?
At a conference a few weeks ago, I got some great inspiration about using your follow-up sequence to stand out. Big thanks to Ryan Meo for sharing his insights with me (and with you).
Ryan is the founder and owner of The Website Project, a really smart business that works with agencies to create custom WordPress websites for their clients.
In a field crowded with competition, Ryan knew he had to do something big to make leads pay attention. A few phone calls and emails wouldn’t cut it if he wanted to seriously grow his business.
So, he started doing something different.
First, Ryan sends a bulk mailing to a group of qualified leads.
What’s in the mailing? A cool gift. We’re not talking about a pen or a mug. We’re talking an awesome bottle of hot sauce branded with his logo. It’s quirky, it shows off Ryan’s personality, and it tells potential clients that he’s fun to work with.
You can do this, too. Think of an inexpensive item that represents you. Find a manufacturer who can customize it with your logo and website URL, and will give you a discount on a bulk purchase. Then, mail away!
There’s real power in delivering a physical object. We all know how easy it is to ignore a phone call or delete an email. But when your lead gets a gift, it’s right in front of them. It’s in their home, in their office, on their desk. It makes you seem much more real to them. And every time they look at it, they’re reminded of you.
Ryan doesn’t stop with the mailing, though. He knows (like all great entrepreneurs know) that success is in the follow-up. He waits a day or two after the gift is delivered, and follows up with a phone call.
Here’s the kicker: He doesn’t launch into his sales pitch.
Instead, he asks if they got the hot sauce. Seems like a really obvious question, right? After all, Ryan gets shipping confirmation emails. It’s not like he doesn’t know.
But it’s is a super-smart tactic for a few reasons.
One, it eases the lead into communicating in an effortless, simple way. Ryan isn’t asking for anything more than a confirmation that his package arrived. It’s like starting any conversation — you have a little bit of chit chat, talk about the weather, etc. before you dive into more serious topics.
There’s also a strong psychological factor in play. When he asks “Did you get the hot sauce?” the answer is, inevitably, “yes.” And when a lead answers your very first question with “yes,” that’s a home run.
The “yes” breaks down all sorts of mental barriers and opens the floodgates for more receptive communication. People are so prone to say “no” to someone they don’t know, by forcing them to say “yes” you’ve already jumped ahead about ten steps.
After that, Ryan has a few more rules that he follows — his “Five Rules To Following Up Like A Bad Ass.” These are a solid foundation for anyone who does a lot of networking:
First: Never Get Annoyed. You might be annoyed for many reasons — because your lead didn’t email you back, because they’ve been stringing you along, because you can’t tell where it’s going. But you can’t outwardly show it. It spells the death of your relationship.
Ryan’s next rule is: Get Personal. I know quite a few freelancers who operate on the principle that business = business, and that’s all it should be. That mindset will get you nowhere fast.
Why? Because business = relationships. It’s about getting to know someone, both as a client and as a person.
Take the time to invest in finding out more about your leads. Ask them questions and make your conversations personable. If you want to land a new client, they have to trust you first. And you can’t build trust without establishing that personal relationship.
Rule #3: Get Permission. There’s nothing wrong with asking your new networking buddy, “When should I follow up?” Or, “Does this sound interesting to you? Do you want to talk about it some more?”
If you’re a phone call kind of person, follow Ryan’s fourth rule: Finish With An Email. Whether you’ve had a solid phone conversation, or you just left a voicemail, send an email after. Seeing an email in their inbox is a great reminder to get back to you.
And finally, Ryan’s last rule: Know When To Quit. Generally, I’ll say that there’s no harm in continuing to follow up and follow up and follow up, as long as your lead is still interested.
But there are two good reasons to stop following up: One, if you’re losing other business because you’re too busy chasing an impossible lead. Two, if your lead explicitly tells you to take a hike.
Otherwise, go ahead and follow up until the cows come home.
Here’s a bonus rule from me: Organize Your Connections!
The easiest way to lose new business is by losing track of who you’ve talked to and when you talked to them last. With an email reminder service like TouchingBase.io, you’ll be automatically reminded when it’s time to follow up.
And thanks again to Ryan Meo for inspiring today’s post!