How to Succeed at Inbound Marketing: The Secrets to Prospecting Part I

Building an Inbound Marketing Consultancy…

…or Social Media Management Firm

Prospecting is one of the major stumbling blocks to inbound marketing consulting and social media management success. Paradoxically, prospecting is crucial for success because, in order to help others build their businesses, we must simultaneously build ours.

If we do not find and develop inbound marketing and/or social media clients, we will never be able to do what we love to do….what we are good at doing. To help others succeed, using the inbound marketing and social media management strategies we have come to understand and believe in, we have to seek out and educate brick and mortar business owners and professional people (i.e., M.D.s and D.O.s, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, attorneys, accountants, etc.) about what it is we do and why it is in their best interest to allow us to assist them with the transition from an old media, outbound marketing strategy that no longer works to a new media, inbound marketing strategy that will.

Significantly, is it not only crucial that we identify inbound marketing and social media management prospects, we must have a plan in place to contact, develop, and educate them once we do.

I’ve mentored several inbound marketing consultants, men and women just beginning to build their inbound marketing consultancies; and, in almost every case, they have reached the same point with much the same reaction. Interestingly, while they have followed enough of the steps I will discuss below to have made a contact…they don’t know what to do next!

Or, they have actually been contacted by a prospective inbound marketing client only to freeze up!

Failure and Teachable Moments: Prospecting and Inbound Marketing

Significantly, many of these failed calls did not fail because the consultant didn’t know his or her craft…quite the contrary. They failed because they simply placed too much pressure on themselves and froze up. Ultimately, the call ends badly and a contact that may have developed into an inbound marketing client instead developed into a teachable moment and a valuable lesson.

Note: We learn as much from these failures, if not more, than we do from calls that go just right and end with an appointment being made. Keep in mind, the sole purpose of the call is to make a good enough first impression to get a second appointment. At this point you do not know if you have a prospective inbound marketing client or not, so don’t try to sell anything. Once you develop that mindset, it is easier to talk to business owners and professionals. You see, at this point you do not have a sales situation, all you have is conversation.

While you may conceive of selling as difficult, having a conversation is easy…so quit trying to sell!

What do we do?

How are these calls handled?

Well, first you have to get the inbound marketing or social media management prospect to call. This means generating prospects, knowing how they are likely to react, and being comfortable enough with yourself, the phone, and the material (inbound marketing and social media) to do a good job; and that all comes with experience.

We will discuss more about this in part two.

However, the first thing we need to do is to identify the prospect, and then develop the prospect, so they are willing to take that initial step and either make contact…or be receptive to our first follow up contact.

For you to understand how big a step it is for most business owners and professional people to make that first call, think back to how you felt the first time you contacted someone about getting help to build your business.

If you haven’t, you will…Almost everyone does!

Interestingly, the emotions experienced by an individual making that first call, the individual on the other end of the receiver, are a combination of desperation, curiosity, and fear.

  • Desperation - Because they generally have an issue with their marketing. Their marketing is generally some form of outbound marketing…or perhaps a static website that dates back to ’90s online marketing mentality. The “offline” business owner or professional is in pain or they wouldn’t have made the call. In other words, they have a problem with their marketing and they know they have a problem.
  • Curious - Two, they are a bit curious about you, particularly if your message resonated with them enough to prompt a call. That also means they will probably be cautiously receptive, provided you don’t come off like a nervous idiot!
  • Afraid - Finally, they are afraid for a number of reasons:
    • They are undoubtedly afraid that you are going to come across as some high pressure jerk. This is how they may feel…not how you actually are. I hope!
    • Or, conversely, you that may come across as someone who cannot help him or her at all…thus leaving the business owner in even worse shape. Keep this in mind: Deep down they hope you have the solution; and, it took a lot for them to make the call…so handle it properly! They want to talk to you, they are simply apprehensive…afraid!
    • They are also afraid because they may have to change something. Or a lot of somethings; and, people resist change. We all fear and resist change, so be aware of that fact; and, deal with it with confidence, reassurance, and educationat the right time!

For all of the above reasons, and many more, you have your work cut out for you!

Now that you have some idea of what you are up against, you can at least begin to design an approach that is appealing, low-keyed, and effective.

You have two choices:

  1. “Throw enough spaghetti against the wall and some of it will stick!” This is the old shotgun method. Some stick a pin in a map and then begin to prospect geographically. Others tailor their efforts demographically, still with something of a shotgun approach. Still others use a combination of geography, demographics, and psychographics (we will get into this next) to get as close a look at their target market and their buying behavior as possible but they are still using a broad-cased approach with little or no real broad-based research…beyond that mentioned above.
    1. Direct Mail - I personally like direct mail and use it a lot! If it is done right, and over time, direct mail can be very effective based on ROI. The problem most people have with direct mail is that it doesn’t get opened because it looks like junk mail or it doesn’t pass the 3 second test and goes right into the waste basket. We will deal more with this in an upcoming article.
    2. Craigslist – Actually, all of the free online classified directories work and they also do well with Google, particularly Craigslist. It is free and, if you are not using it, spam and the negative media notwithstanding, you are throwing away a few clients yearly. Over a five year period, that is a significant sum of money!
    3. Backpage, Kijiji (eBay), etc – The same goes for these free classified sites, they are all useful and every inbound marketing and social media management firm should have a presence on them. Even the sponsored listings are ridiculously inexpensive…so do it!
    4. Cold Calling – I am not a big fan of cold calling, in fact I loathed it, particularly in the old school way. However, there is a course available that has transformed cold calling and it is worth a look. Even if you only use the course as a means of getting comfortable with the phone, because we all us it, this course is a must. It is called Unlock the Game by Ari Galper. The inbound marketing consultants I have mentored will tell you, this is the first course I suggest for all new consultants. It is a must! The free training alone is incredible and will change your thinking and your approach to the phone, and prospecting, forever.
    5. Others - This is where I place all the other things that you might like to try. However, if you apply the other strategies, those listed above and those I will get to below, you really won’t have time to fool around with a lot of them. One I will suggest is the Yellow Pages.
      1. The Yellow Pages - Businesses advertising in the Yellow Pages have watched response drop and the prices for ads skyrocket. Many of these business people are looking to get out. Be creative and do you research and you will find very good inbound marketing prospects in the Yellow Pages. If you have the time, this can be a valuable resource.
      2. Valpak – Valpak used to be one of those things that hit the trash, validating The 3 Second Rule! Now I view it as a resource. If a merchant is willing to go to the time and effort, not to mention the expense, of setting up a Valpak account? They will be interested in what you have to say…provided you approach them properly and educate them thoroughly. I place Valpak advertisers into one of three categories and then develop them accordingly. Again, I will cover this in an upcoming article dealing with direct mail and inbound marketing consulting.
  2. You can get creative! Creative prospecting includes a variety of strategies, all designed to find the hungry market…what I have heard others refer to as the hungry fish. I am not crazy about calling prospective clients fish but if it helps you visualize what I am talking about…whatever works and so much the better. However, your prospective clients are people just like you with real world concerns, families, and businesses to provide for, keep afloat, and run. The more human you perceive them to be, and not just as “hungry fish” or “target audiences” or even “prospects,” the easier it will be to connect with them, build interest, relationships, confidence, trust, bonds, and clients for life!
    1. First – Go where the business people are. Join the Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, etc. I’ve mentioned this marketing step before. Get the membership directories but be careful not to prospect to them aggressively or right off the bat. Learn who the key influencers are and attempt to get to know them, very much as you would do on a social media site. Chamber of Commerce members are a there for a reason, to network and to build their businesses. If you can help them build their businesses, once they get to know you, you are in!
    2. Go to the local library and offer to teach a class on how small businesses can build an online presence. Libraries usually introduce these programs well in advance, usually in a bulletin, so you can get great exposure and have plenty of time to develop the course material. Libraries usually require an outline but that can be accomplished in an afternoon. You can teach the class as an over your shoulder course, one in which the students (local business people) follow along throughout an inbound marketing campaign set up. Or, you can simply do the A-B-Cs of inbound marketing and social media. The latter works well if relate it to local offline business. In either case, you will have many people approach you and ask if they can hire you or at least talk to you about what they can do to improve their online marketing. It is up to you to do the rest. Hence forth, you will be viewed as an authority in your community and the word will spread rapidly.
    3. Get a digital recorder and drive through your town, making note of the new businesses, the grand openings, and certain high value or high ticket businesses that attract your eye. Once you have “carded” the area (i.e., recorded the information, picked up local newspapers, maps, periodicals, grocery store handouts, and the rest), go back to the office, transcribe the information, note the advertising, and create a spreadsheet. Then it is time to do some research. Make sure you log the following information:
      1. Name
      2. Address
      3. Phone – Verify from infoUSA.com
      4. Web address (if they have one – note if they do not)
        1. Alexa Rankings
        2. SEO Information (to be covered in an upcoming article)
      5. Google them and establish how deep their online presence goes and what they are doing in the way of inbound marketing and social media to build The Ultimate Internet Image (couldn’t resist!)
      6. Email address from website About and Contact Us as well as from Whois.com and BetterWhoIs.com
      7. Business Owner – Contact Name infogroup/infoUSA.com
      8. Contact Title
      9. Verify Mailing Address from American Chruch Lists
      10. Type of Business
      11. Employee Size
      12. How Long in Business
      13. Other Relevant Data
  3. Referrals and Warm Contacts – These are either referrals from business owners and professionals you are already assisting (I will go into how to develop referrals and letters of recommendation – testimonials in an upcoming article). You can also approach the individuals you do business with and pass out a business cards, strike up a casual conversation, and ask them if they have a few minutes and take it from there. How you handle referrals and how you handle your warm market are different but they are both high quality leads and a great source of business.
  4. Local Newspapers – Businesses spend a lot of money on newspaper advertising with very little to show for it. I suggest OfflineBiz.com. When you upgrade to the Gold forum you get a letter as part of your introductory series that converts better than any direct mail piece I have ever used! I am talking about 12-18% for every mailing that goes out. The nice part is that you can use it in conjunction with newspaper ads, magazine ads, Yellow Pages ads, etc. It is without a doubt the best letter I have ever used for response on a cold mailing as part of a direct mail campaign. Try it! It will be worth it. And OfflineBiz.com offers instructional material that is really quite good. If you use the information and the letter provided by OfflineBiz.com you will see your response rate related to newspaper advertising prospecting in association with direct mail skyrocket. I have never seen anything like it! Sound like a commercial? It works or I wouldn’t mention it, affiliate link or not!

Prospecting for inbound marketing and social media clients is about…

…research, experience, and empathy!

If you can put yourself in your prospective inbound marketing client’s shoes and understand everything there is to know about them before they call you, or before you call them, you can speak intelligently…without pressuring them!

The key is to make it a conversation and get the appointment.

The appointment may lead to something…and it may not. It is up to you and the prospective client at that point. However, if you lay the groundwork and choose your prospective clients well, combining the best of both approaches, the spaghetti approach and the creative approach, you will have more business than you know what to do with…long term.

Ultimately, we will get into greater detail with respect to several of these points.

But for now…know this:

You can never do too much prospecting and you can never be too prepared. However, do not try to sell anything over the phone and do absolutely no selling on the first visit.

Your job is to listen, learn, and understand!

If you can do that, you will be on your way to inbound marketing and social media management success!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Skype: johnzajaros1
216-712-7004

PS, I am accepting 5 students and will work with them for the next 180 days. You will have your business up and running in that amount of time and be making money. Guaranteed! For more information, you may contact me via my personal email address: excellencepaidforward@gmail.com

PPS, Watch for Part II. We will deal with the nuts and bolts of each issue.

Inbound Marketing Success: Are You Selling Price or Loyalty?

Are you selling price or loyalty…?

When you train your customers to buy based on price, they become loyal to the price, and not loyal to you.

For example, if a new giant retailer came out on the marketplace today, and their whole sales pitch was, “We promise to be THE lowest-priced store in town — we will even beat WAL-MART hands-down, on every single item in stock.

What do you think would happen here?

Do you think everyone would stay put and stay faithful to Wal-Mart?

I doubt it.

Sure you’d have a few die-hards, but for the most part, Wal-Mart’s customers would RUN as fast as they can to this other place.

Being loyal to YOU is far more important, and makes pricing FAR less important, however, if you want that kind of loyalty, you have to earn it!

The reason we don’t ask for our best price is because we are afraid they will reject us… here’s a little secret… you may be rejecting yourself before your prospect even has a chance to reject you?

Build loyal customers by helping them and offering them services and helpful information, and not simply the lowest price.

Make it a great day!

Bob Oros
800-480-5197

http://www.BobOros.com

NOTE: Bob Oros is cut from the same cloth I am. I received this in my inbox this morning and immediately emailed Bob to ask him if I could use it. Bob is a real world, No B.S kind of sales trainer and speaker; and, he and I hit it off from day one. I would recommend Bob’s sales training course to anyone who wants to get back to their roots and take it to the next level in sales! Bob Oros is the real deal and it is a pleasure to post his insights here. If you have read anything about the homogenization and commoditization of inbound marketing, my theme over the past two days, this post will resonate with you!

Positioning, Differentiation, and Inbound Marketing Commoditization

Positioning, Differentiation, and Homogenization

The Impact on Inbound Marketing and Social Media Management!

Positioning and differentiation are two of the most important concepts you will come across as an inbound marketing consultant for social media manager.

Your understanding of these fundamental marketing principles will assist you in building your inbound marketing consultancy. Additionally, they will help you understand your clients; and, the businesses and/or professional practices of your clients.

In order to offer something truly remarkable, we must be remarkable ourselves, and that means personally and professionally. Additionally, we need to define and distinguish ourselves and our work in the marketplace; and, to do that, we must be remarkable.

As many marketing experts have so aptly pointed out:

Good is no longer good enough.

In fact:

Great is no longer good enough either!

You must be remarkable, consistent, and determined in your inbound marketing efforts…and your social media strategies.

Dan Kennedy states that,Positioning is controlling how your customers and prospective customers think and feel about your business in comparison to other, similar businesses competing for their attention.”

Brian Tracy states that,Positioning refers to the way your clients think about you and talk about you, and your company, when you are not around.” Tracy goes on to explain that, “The position that you hold in your client’s mind determines all of his reactions and interactions with you. Your position determines whether or not your client buys from you, whether he buys again from you, and whether he refers other people to you.”

In other words, everything you do when it comes to your client’s inbound marketing requirements affects the way your client thinks about you, your inbound marketing and social media strategies, and your inbound marketing consultancy’s brand…your Internet image.

Brian Tracy and Dan Kennedy differ somewhat, with Kennedy conflating the definitions of positioning and differentiation somewhat; and Tracy offering distinct definitions.

In the end, it all comes out in the wash!

Why?

Because you cannot have one without the other and be succcessful, positioning and differentiation are like the Ying and Yang of marketing.

Tracy maintains that, “Differentiation…refers to your ability to separate yourself, and your product or service, from that of your competitors. Differentiation is the key to building and maintaining a competitive advantage.”

Ultimately, it comes down to how you read their individual definitions, with careful attention to the context in which each definition is offered.

Positioning and differentiation are two halves of the same whole, an advantage you and your inbound marketing firm has over your competitors in the same marketplace; the unique benefits no one else can provide your clients.

However!

When all you have to offer is what everyone else is offering, and you have made it all about the price, you have little chance to be remarkable.

In fact, even if you are? In all liklihood, you won’t get hired because you have defined the parameters before you even open you mouth.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing the homogenization of inbound marketing and social media management!

We are also witnessing this trend throughout much of the business world today. As a consequence of this trend, the homogenization of inbound marketing, we are witnessing less of a distinction between inbound marketing consultancies and social media management firms.

What defines good enough…much less remarkable?

Is it true that good enoughisn’t good enough?

Additionally, what qualifies one entity to “certify” another at this point? And yet, we see this movement to be “certified!

Interesting!

I call this trend “Follow the follower!

Worse yet?

We are also witnessing the commoditization of inbound marketing, along side its homogenization.

Listen to Dan Kennedy talk about price lists some time if you want a real education on commoditization.

He is dead on the money, pun intended, on this point.

When you make the conversation all about price?

You become nothing more than a discount operation in the eyes of your prospective clients!

Instead of being about what makes you separate and distinct?

Your positioning and differentiation?

Instead of what makes you remarkable?

You are nothing more than an inbound marketing or social media version of K-Mart!

Why K-Mart?

Because they went bankrupt!

And making the conversation about price before you know anything about your client is bargain basement mentality; and, all your competition has to do is chop your price…and you rapidly fade away!

How can you possibly know how much to charge an inbound marketing or social media management client when you have yet to establish your client’s needs?

Or, for that matter, if you can help them at all?

In many instances, the business building and marketing strategies of today are not based on a follow the leader approach, an approach most refer to as modeling.

Modeling is a strategy that makes sense, at least to a point.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants!”

However, as noted above, we seem to be witnessing a “Follow the follower” mentality, everyone lock-step behind the next…and the result is lackluster at best.

I suggest that inbound marketing is perhaps too new, as a marketing discipline, to have many giants worth modeling…much less available for a perch on their shoulders!

Sadly, many of the companies at the forefront of the industry, those worth modeling at all, do not have extensive experience in the trenches, building inbound marketing and social media strategies for businesses and professional practices day in and day out, belly to belly, one at a time…over a period of time.

Ironically, many of the leaders today are primarily thought-leaders, with little in the trenches experience with local, “offline” businesses…consulting one on one.

Frankly, this takes getting out from behind the monitor and the desk and talking to business people in the community. What Dan Kennedy would call a No B.S. education, one based on real world experience and not on theories and concepts learned from an info course or on a website.

The best experience you will ever have, the fastest way to mastery of your craft, inbound marketing consulting and social media management, is to get out and rub elbows with business owners every day!

If you build the kind of site I see online today, the one-size-fits-all type of inbound marketing website…with services and prices posted like some sort of as menu?

You are one step away from becoming K-Mart!

If a client finds you at all, they will simply go down the menu and circle what they want, scratching what they don’t want, and that will be that.

Sadly, it will not be based on positioning or differentiation!

It will be all based on price before you even have an opportunity to establish why you may indeed be different and remarkable.

Why?

…because you are simply K-Mart!

That will be 12 blog posts please…to go!

Hold the fries!

Please let me know what you think!

Also, check out the contest on the home page…we are running out of time.

Subscribe and get a free copy of the Inbound Marketing A though Z available September 8, 2010!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Skype: johnzajaros1
216-712-7004

PS, For more on this topic check out The Homogenization and Commoditization of Inbound Marketing (Part I) and Homogenization, Commoditization, and Mediocrity in Inbound Marketing (Part II).

Homogenization, Commoditization, and Mediocrity in Inbound Marketing

Social Media, Inbound Marketing, and The Mediocre Majority

Whether you are listening to Earl Nightingale in Lead the Field, Dan Kennedy in No B.S. Business Success, or Mark Twain just being Mark Twain, there is consensus among all three of these gentlemen.

Interestingly, it is an observation I made for myself a long time ago!

The line of thinking goes something like this:

If you have no successful example to follow in whatever endeavor you choose, you may simply look at what everyone else around you is doing and do the opposite, because — THE MAJORITY IS ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG! Dan Kennedy paraphrasing Earl Nightingale.

It is Dan Kennedy who coined the phrase:

“The Mediocre Majority”

Mark Twain noted the same thing 90 years before!

Interestingly, Mark Twain and Dan Kennedy may have been cut from the same cloth…both seemingly Professors of Harsh Reality. At the very least, they are both thought of in terms of their No B.S. approach to the truth; and to life as they see (saw) it.

It was Mark Twain (1904) who stated that, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

I agree!

There is process that takes place in the United States, and perhaps abroad; and, it repeats over and again:

  • An idea is introduced and everyone goes crazy about it, we can’t get enough of it. This has been the case for everything from hoola-hoops to mini-skirts, from bell bottoms to wine coolers, and from long hair to Cabbage Patch Dolls. We go bananas, can’t get enough of it, and nothing can keep us from whatever the latest trend is.
  • If it is behavioral, we will go from one extreme to the other, a knee-jerk reaction of sorts. We go from the nonconformity of the mid-60s to early 70s, to the “greed is good” and the BMWers of Yuppie era and the Wall Street ‘80s. We go from the social consciousness of the ‘90s  and concern for the homeless, to watching them all-but-disappear as an issue by the early 2000s.
  • We’ve witnessed the emergence of video games from Pong to Pac Man to Donkey Kong to Super Mario Brothers and on to games with graphics so real and so violent they require warnings.
  • Remember Netscape? How about WebCrawler? Remember SuperCalc? Word Perfect? AOL? MySpace? Yes, many are still around but they have faded or are fading, they’ve evolved, or perhaps morphed into something almost unrecognizable. But they were all one King, or nearly King, of the Hill.

Now?

Interestingly, we are witnessing it again in all things Internet…and particularly as the Internet relates to social media!

We’ve watched the emergence of Overture, Yahoo, Google, and now Facebook. Yes, MSN-Bing is in there somewhere…but where?
Can there be any doubt that this latest move with Yahoo may be too little too late?

Incredibly, we hear inbound marketing consultants, young inbound marketing consultants, exclaim enmass that outbound marketing is dead.

Outbound marketing is dead…long live inbound marketing!

Long live inbound marketing?

We’ll see!

Of one thing I am certain, we are witnessing its rapid evolution into something else, something homogenized.

As a few players attempt rein in control and assert themselves as the authorities, complete with certification and pricing, we are also witnessing the commoditization of inbound marketing.

Significantly, and this brings me full circle back to the introduction, as we become more homogenized and more of a commodity?

We cease to be remarkable, we cease to be innovative, interesting, and provocative…we become something less!

What?

I am not quite certain yet!

Of one thing I am certain, Mark Twain, Earl Nightingale, Dan Kennedy, and I have been around the block enough, with Dan and I still circling (thank goodness!), to know that nothing remains the same and three things are certain:

Change, Change, and more Change!

Outbound marketing is no lore dead than inbound marketing will be around forever!

One thing is certain:

Mediocrity has reared its ugly head online and has a firm grasp on the majority!

The question is:

Do you want to be mediocre or do you want to be remarkable? There is no middle ground…unless you are comfortable with the former!

Please let me know what you think and share this with your friends…thank you!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Skype: johnzajaros1
216-712-7004

PS, More on this topic at Inbound Marketing Zen.