This is a story about a prospecting approach – a printing company approaching Clarity.
Imagine you’re me. (And, I’m not responsible for any psychological trauma that comes as a result of your imagining.) You run a consulting and training business, working with clients in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. Frequently, you deliver documents to your clients in multiple locations. For the “we can plan ahead” printing work, you use a printer with whom you’ve worked for a number of years.
For the “it’s midnight and we need it by breakfast time” work, your firm uses a printer whose locations frequently are close to the sites in which your materials are used. While they’re fast and located close to your client sites, they’re significantly more expensive than your regular guy, they foul up orders from time to time, and their web interface is a bit clunky, you think.
So, one morning, there appears the following email in your in-box:
Herbert Printing, Inc.
April 28, 2010
I’m writing with the hope of earning your business.
I am the Sales Manager at Herbert Printing and Graphics (check out our web site) and would very much like to speak with you to discuss how our company can save you time and money. We are in our 100th year, and are proud to say that our company continues to grow. We think that’s because we work extremely hard to form personal relationships with all our customers, and because we make it easy for you to order printing when and how you need it.
Thanks for the opportunity to call on you. Please let me know if there is anything I can quote for you today. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, signed by the sales manager
You ignore (in fact, you delete) this email. A week later, a second email appears:
Herbert Printing, Inc.
May 5, 2010
I’m following up on my email to you from last week.
I am the Sales Manager at Herbert Printing and Graphics (check out our web site) and I know your time is valuable. I truly believe that Herbert Printing can help your company save time and money.
Thanks for the opportunity to call on you. Please give me a call and let me explain how we can make this happen. We are committed to helping our clients business grow. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
A perfectly nice, friendly email. You delete this one, too.
Why? Unless you’re really cranky with one of your printers at this point and actively looking to make a change at the time the email arrives, THE EMAIL DOES NOT ENGAGE YOU OR SUGGEST ANY PARTICULAR REASON TO PAY ATTENTION.
So a few comments
Frequency. Two touches is not enough for this campaign. Four, six, eight touches over a period of weeks or months would be a stronger approach. Who knows, maybe Herbert will send more emails. I await, eagerly.
Style. The approach letters should represent the firm’s brand and feel. When I decided to focus on their emails this week, I clicked through to their web site and….SURPRISE! It’s terrific. Engaging. Humorous. Colorful. Their email didn’t hint at any of that.
Content. The weakest part of the two emails. Apparently, Herbert did not segment their lists; they sent the same email to everybody. Maybe that will work for them, based on sheer volume. Maybe the cost of segmenting and sending different emails to different segments was too much for Herbert. I’d respect that business decision. Suppose, however, that Herbert had segmented the list and varied the emails. Then what?
If they’re writing to consulting firms, they should focus on the fears, uncertainties, and doubts that they know, from experience, firms in that segment worry about. For example:
Availability – Is your printer “where you need them, when you need them?” When you need to print at midnight and get a job back by 6:00 am, are they there, where and when you need them? Are they awake? Are they working?
User-friendliness – It’s midnight before a big presentation. How grouchy do you feel when you’ve spent an hour uploading files through your printer’s web site….and you find out that the upload didn’t “take” somehow and now you have to do it again.
Confidence – How well do you sleep between midnight and 6:00 am? Do you go to bed at midnight wondering whether the printer will get your presentation right and whether you should get up a couple of hours earlier than you want to to check out the print job with enough time to reprint the essentials if they’ve screwed it up?
Capability – How many printer relationships do you want? How much of a hassle is it to engage different printers for different jobs? Can your printer do everything you need from spiral-bound booklets to large-scale color murals?
Cost – Are you sure you’re getting the best price? Does your printer offer you discounts befitting the volume of printing you do with them?
So, when Herbert Printing is ready to approach, they now have at least five different pain points I might pay attention and Herbert could use them in a series of five emails, beginning with.
May 12, 2010
Ref.: Overpaying for midnight printing?
Last minute deliverables, finished at midnight, 50 copies needed by 6:00 am. How many times have you looked at the bills for those jobs and thought, “we must be paying double what we normally pay… This is killing us” ?
If you’ve had that thought even once, we should talk. We design printing programs for consultants and other professionals that offer last-minute printing at week-before pricing. Check out our website and call me at 999-888-7777.
If I got that email, I would be, at least, curious. If Herbert sent me four more, each focusing on a different fear or pain point, I’d be even MORE curious.