They're just not that into you....
Today I had lunch with a friend who's a network VP. We had a nice chat about the economy and the state of production companies and agencies, particularly in the LA area. At one point a topic came up that's come up quite a bit lately with my other clients as well. You are calling and emailing them far too much. Yes, times are tough and you need to drum up new business. Calling up people you don't know and putting your best eager beaver message on a stranger's voicemail is not going to solve your problems. If your best idea is to dig out that LA411 book and start cold calling, you need better ideas.
Normally, this behavior isn't so bad. In a down economy though, EVERYONE is doing this, and the good guys are being lumped into the bad. Vendors that have clients are doing everything they can to keep them happy. Things will get better eventually, but please, stop calling, emailing, faxing, passenger pigeoning, SO MUCH. You're not helping yourself.
Do some free stuff for a charity. Make some friends who might turn into great referrals. Go to school. Learn new things. What you used to do yesterday might not be what saves your butt tomorrow. Right now, they're just not that into you.
Haven't heard that. Perhaps they're all trying to tell you something !
Your Pal pal.
Sales are built on relationships (rather than cold calling and bothering people). People want things that are personal, anticipated, and relevant. Instead of cold calls, send thank you notes and holiday cards to your existing clients. Forward relevant articles about their industry. Send them something personal. If your client is into model railroads, send them an article about a local train show.
People want to buy, they just don't want to be sold.
And that's my two cents for this Thursday morning.
Looks like some people disagree with you and that was probably to be expected, huh? ;o)
But I agree with you, in principle, and I also think the key to what you were saying was in the words "If your best idea is to dig out that LA411 book and start cold calling, you need better ideas."
We are CREATIVES, are we not?
There's little creative in picking up the phone and running A-to-Z in desperation.
People can smell desperation, (it is sort of like perspiration with some added despondency, and spelled a bit differently).
While I would agree with you that for those with a financial cushion to rest on, going to school is nice, learning new tricks, or donating time for a project for a favorite charity, is a great way to kill time -- me, I'd like to zero in on your point, John.
These are times to sharpen your ability to pitch.
I once knew an old salesman who told me that only one-in-ten sales calls benefit from knowing everything there is about the product or service you are selling. The other nine? Well, he said that "...they are about as pretty as a salesman waiting in his car in a parking lot outside a department store outside a mall and then jumping out when he sees a woman leaving the store, walking up to them and asking, 'You wouldn't want to buy something from me, would you?'"
Eventually, with even a pitch as pathetic as that, someone is going to say yes. It's a numbers game.
Number games will wear you out if there is too much distance between the first pitch and the first yes.
Creative people need to get creative -- which is, I believe, your real point, John -- and I couldn't agree more.
I can remember when Kathlyn and I were so broke and so desperate that we couldn't land a job for the life of us, because we were in one of the past recessionary cycles and money was not to be had -- at least not easily.
What did we do?
We thought up an idea for the local zoo in the next town over. We would create a zoo guide, built entirely around the animals in that particular zoo. It would be filled with pictures, stories, crossword puzzles for kids, and other word and quizzes built around the guide's animals.
We would sell ads to the local merchants and financial institutions in our area who would support it, and we would donate all the guides to the local zoo and the local schools, etc.
Our zoo guide would stimulate interest in the local zoo and would give teachers a way to plan field-trips to it, and discuss the animals in advance, give the kids a guidebook they could take with them on their trip, and local residents and tourists that visited the zoo would receive one during their visit.
There among all the pages would be the ads showcasing the businesses that helped make this free service available to everyone.
I went in and pitched the idea to the City Manager under whose ultimate authority the zoo operated. I got him to write me an official letter stating that the City of Atascadero was behind the project -- which he only did because we had already created the mock-up of the zoo guide and he could see it with his own eyes -- and so when I went out pitching businesses to participate, the first thing I showed them in my flip-book, was his letter.
This is just one example of using your mind to be creative instead of being like the old salesman waiting in the parking lot.
Sure, it eventually works -- sometimes.
But who would you rather be seen as?
"I hate the smell of desperation in the morning"
-- Robert Dooval, in the film Apocalypse Business.
Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Ron, love your zoo presentation!
I think you got me mixed up with someone else though. I didn't say go to school.
What I take from Ron's example and from the original post is that even exceptional salesmen can't sell a product when there's no demand, so create demand by creating something new.
Probably the thing that pops into mind first in that regard these days would be something for the web. But what, exactly? Mini-drama or comedy series on the web like The Guild get great buzz, but you would have to find a way to connect a paying advertiser/sponsor into that, and finding that fit could be hard.
In the case of Ron's Zoo Guide, I would love to know, sensei, what types of advertisers you grabbed. My guess would be several restaurants are in there, because after a day at the zoo mom and dad don't feel like cooking too, so why not extend the fun of the day by eating out. That makes logical sense to me.
Why I would want to advertise in the zoo guide if I'm a funeral parlor or a repair garage or a stationer, I don't know. I'm curious to see what the connections were in that one. I suppose you can always go with "civic pride and proud local booster" even when there is no other connection. But to me I feel the better deal overall is to find a synergy like the restaurants near the zoo. Back in college student government, we marketed a discount card for students and faculty and everything the card was good for had to do with food, drink, clothing, and school-related entertainment. We branched out a little for the North Side campus where the dorms and student apartment were and added sponsors for things like carpets and cheap furniture, though those never moved as well as the more traditional consumables because the synergy was not as strong.
And by the way, web stuff is not all one can do. I've talked before about making documentaries for local historical societies, chambers of commerce, and the like. Projects like that tend to take on a life of their own and accrue or leverage other assets and publicity as they grow. The immediate payoff, if any, is usually small, but in these cases you're building something with a long tail on it, the network that assembles around the initiating event is what you actually harvest.
[Mark Suszko] "In the case of Ron's Zoo Guide, I would love to know, sensei, what types of advertisers you grabbed. My guess would be several restaurants are in there, because after a day at the zoo mom and dad don't feel like cooking too, so why not extend the fun of the day by eating out. That makes logical sense to me. Why I would want to advertise in the zoo guide if I'm a funeral parlor or a repair garage or a stationer, I don't know. I'm curious to see what the connections were in that one. I suppose you can always go with "civic pride and proud local booster" even when there is no other connection. But to me I feel the better deal overall is to find a synergy like the restaurants near the zoo."
Great comments, Mark, as always. ;o)
Yes, there were many "direct synergies" in the Guide, as you guessed. But one of the advantages of dealing with a small municipal zoo -- cross this one over to your own situation and where you find advantages that can be recognized and exploited -- is that there is indeed a lot of pride in the fact that it is a part of the community, and so we had a wide reach into the local retailers, professionals, service providers, hospitality industry, etc.
The key to getting the credibility in such a new endeavor, was the fact that we took the time to pitch the City Manager -- complete with the actual finished Zoo Guide in a binder, flipping page to page showing him the finished guide with empty spots where the ads would be. He too, bought into the community pride that the "little zoo started as a rescue mission for injured animals" had grown into a member of American Zoological Society and was instrumental in preserving the Arabian Oryx from extinction and was also hard at work to preserve the genetic diversity of the Madagascar Lemur population by working with other zoos worldwide to swap and breed the rapidly dwindling species.
When he gave us the letter from the City of Atascadero, that clinched the deal and gave us a level of credibility that we would in no way had without it.
We always showed the letter before beginning any presentation.
It was a community function and it saved our bacon at a time when there was just no way to get any sizable job without it.
As John Davidson alluded to in his opening post, get creative in your pitches.
All joking aside, you've all made great points. Times are tight, and those of us with great clients are fortunate. There is a level of exasperation that many executives are feeling right now. Every day it's call after call of people selling their services, often after having done little research into the person or company they're calling.
There's still a need great content. You just have to learn how to navigate around bad ideas and find the good ones. Remember, if you build it, they will come. If you incessantly hound them, they will run.
Making folks who don't know you not like you is never a good idea...especially when not booked. Fishing is about enticing and timing. Throw stuff out peaople want and let em come to ya. Be patient. Get up early if ya have to. If ya jump in, ya scare the fish away and old fihermen will yell at you.
[grinner hester] "If ya jump in, ya scare the fish away and old fishermen will yell at you."
I have a new Grinnerism to add to the list.
[grinner hester] "If ya jump in, ya scare the fish away and old fihermen will yell at you. "
Good one Grinner!!!
Most of the time I feel like you must be writing in from Mars or Uranus, but it sounds like your craft has finally landed.
David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™
A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.
Grinner writes -
Throw stuff out peaople want and let em come to ya.
Grinner, of course, is correct. Unless you can afford to advertise, you need to be ever present in the minds of your clients - new and old. You can't harass people, but you have to remind people that you are out there. When the "fish" is hungry, he will come to bite - and if your new competitior happens to be there when the "fish" is really hungry, he will certainly take a look at the food the competitor has. When I am on the Universal backlot on a job, I go visit EVERY production company there, just to stick my head in, just to say hi (and not to say WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HIRE ME ALREADY !). And occationally, someone will say "hey, I was meaning to call you, can you come in next week". Now you know, they NEVER would have called if I didnt' stick my head in to say "hi".
Simple email press releases are good - "look at the cool video we just shot for YOUR COMPETITOR" - to which your client says to himself "maybe we should call those guys again next time". This works better than saying "I am really slow - when can you hire me again".
This happened to us when we got into book publishing. Publishing must not be confused with printing. Anyone can have copies of their book printed, that is called printing. Publishing is the editorial process to get from a manuscript to a printed book. We figured out an efficient way to do this for the projects we select.
After we released our first few books which became our flagship products, word started to get around. Now with 15 books in print and another dozen in the works, we find ourselves in meetings and cocktail receptions, being handed book proposals like passing notes in study hall. We of course carefully consider new opportunities. You never know where the next blockbuster is going to come from.
So as the others have said, put yourself out there, always with your best foot forward. Solve peoples' problems. Be creative and they will come on their own schedule.
Yup, works on postcards too. We send out postcards to current clients and researched prospects (people who can actually use our services) every couple of months, highlighting a recent project or service offering.
Web and Video Design
Patrick is absolutely correct. Post cards work wonderfully. What many individuals cannot get thru their skulls is that you have to make out 100 post cards to get ONE client lead - but that is one client lead, and job, and money that you didnt' have before. Then you send out another 100 post cards - now you have 2 jobs. And while you are working for client # 1 from the post cards, someone else will call you from the first batch you sent out, and say "when can you come in?".
EVERYONE - including the esteemed management at Creative Cow, must continue to PUSH THEMSELVES and market themselves until the day they decide to retire. Because if you let yourself slow down, you will lose it all. I have done this myself, and when I get slow, instead of crying, I say to myself "don't get fat, don't get lazy".