Originally published as Three Keys to Successfully Approaching New Clients Through Email, November, 22, 2016 in Restoration & Remediation Magazine (R&R).
By Jon Isaacson
All businesses need new clients, restoration most certainly included. Even the most basic research allows you to identify potentially valuable future customers, and draft a list of prospects. If the prospects are of as much value as anticipated, then the team must understand, appreciate and honor the etiquette of good business approaches and the gatekeeper to those clients. Paul Buccheit, the creator and lead developer of Gmail, expresses the sanctity of email, “Only my phone number and email are private because I don't want random people calling me. But I like the ability to share everything.”
Who is the gatekeeper? In the modern economy the gatekeeper, or first line of defense, for clients of value is their email. Approaching a potential client through email can either be perceived as an invasion of privacy or a respectful approach that honors business boundaries, depending on how the content is composed. The drafting of an email will either allow admittance into the outer courtyard or expel you into the moat of oblivion. Thankfully, the keys to honoring the modern gatekeeper when approaching new clients are rather simple.
1) Subject Line
"People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line," business coach Barbara Pachter says. "Choose one that lets readers know you are addressing their concerns or business issues." (Smith, 2016)
The subject line should be concise and answer the question whether there is value for the targeted client to open this email or pass this failed attempt at communication through to junk mail (the moat). Junk mail is the default setting for most email from unknown sources, as well as emails that are clearly a solicitation. So, if you are approaching people through email, you must recognize that email is the invitation, not the drawn-out conversation. Your subject line is the extending of your hand and your body language transmitted through however many characters you utilize in this important electronic transmission. An effective posture when composing a subject line will be respectful of time by providing a brief value proposition without being kitschy. The goal of the subject line introduction is to get the email opened.
2) First Paragraph
“It’s better to say nothing than spend 1000 words or an hour speech saying nothing. Get to the point – fast.” Richard Branson
If the email is opened, congratulations, the careful efforts have made it through the first line of defense and the relationship is past the initial cyber handshake in approaching a potential client. Any day that emails are not added to the hundreds of efforts banished to junk/block is a good day. If emails to prospects are introductions and the introduction is received, it is appropriate to follow up. Don’t ruin the good favor that the well thought subject line has created by now backing a dump truck of information upon the prospect. Remember the current advancement is only into the outer courtyard, not yet within the castle walls.
Continue with the theme of the subject line and maintain respect for time, be brief and expound on the value proposition to the client, then ask for the opportunity to discuss further. This is the elevator pitch as the client has opened the outer gate but will discontinue the interaction just as quickly if there is an inability to connect.
3) Follow Up
Director of Marketing for The Muse, Elliot Bell encourages, “Remember: If someone does ask you to stop following up, stop following up. But until you hear that, it’s your responsibility to keep trying.”
Research, care and respect have advanced the efforts to this point and now it’s time for appropriate follow up with respect to the correct etiquette. This email is meant to ensure the client received the original email and determine whether they would like to discuss the content further. A follow up call or email should be brief and respectful, with a personalized addendum to the value proposition from prior email.
When a call is made, there is an inherent request to venture further into personal space as well as asking for additional time, so the same principles applied in previous stages are as essential. The purpose of follow up is to answer for both parties whether there is value in moving forward with this potential business interaction.
All clients have value and in the modern economy email serves as a gatekeeper when approaching prospects. Being brief, concise and respectful when composing a value proposition will enable greater success in introducing oneself through email. As noted in a previous article entitled Marketing Step One, good business practitioners are always looking to create opportunities to show potential clients how their organization can serve specific needs. Each step in the process of meeting new clients is about breaking down barriers rather than storming the gates in one fell swoop. All individuals are unique so it is important to listen through the process and learn from successful as well as unsuccessful approaches to new clients.
For a personal example of how the author was able to initiate and build a networking resource for local clients in an underserved market, read How To Network With Local Facility Management Peers posted on FacilityExecutive.com. Many of the invitations that lead to ongoing business relationships that built Local Facilities Manager’s Connection (LFMC) were initiated through emails using the principles outlined in the source article above.
Smith, Jacquelyn (2016, February 1) 15 email-etiquette rules every professional should know.Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/email-etiquette-rules-every-professional-needs-to-know-2016-1/#1-include-a-clear-direct-subject-line-1
Bell, Elliot. Pleasantly persistent: 5 rules for effectively following up.The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/pleasantly-persistent-5-rules-for-effectively-following-up
Curiosity is not always a death sentence for the cat, sometimes curiosity can lead to very fun and unexpected positive life event. In my social media and local personalities peripheral vision I had been noticing for a while this guy named Rick Dancer who was utilizing aspects of social media that no one else was daring to dabble in. Even now that there are some experimenting with tools such as Facebook Live, few of them approach it with the personal touch and the collaborative spirit that Mr. Dancer does. Curiosity drove me to I reach out to Rick and he graciously agreed to meet up with me for coffee one fateful day at the Washburne Cafe in Springfield, Oregon, sparking a friendship. Anyone who has seen him in action with Live with Rick Dancer knows he is a rather transparent person, I was glad that he was willing to go even deeper for this interview.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Vents: Your past life was as a successful local journalist, when you look back on that leg of your journey, what are the key lessons you learned?
Rick Dancer: Television News taught me how to think on my feet. I naturally react quickly but you make a few errors publicly and you quickly learn how to avoid pitfalls and holes. I also learned to take my love of storytelling and put it to work for me. For a few years I tried to mimic news people and write textbook type stories. However, what really changed my style was covering stories of great pain and humanity. Soon, I chucked the journalistic style for my style which was telling a story from the heart perspective.
A significant portion of your story includes some road bumps which include phasing out of journalism not completely of your own accord, an “unsuccessful” run into politics and beating cancer, how has what many may look at as failure brought you to where/who you are now?
Failure is my greatest teacher but many discount the value of failure or the pain one must go through in order to discover their true story, their true self. In news I won a lot. I got awards, had honors and lots of attention from the public. Running for public office humbled and tried to destroy me. It took every ugly thing in my life and put it right in front of me. Ego lost much of its power over me. I no longer care as much what people think of me. Losing has given me freedom and I don't think you can be truly free without loss.
How is it that a nearly 60 year old man 1) looks so handsome and 2) is leading the charge in the state of Oregon to optimize the new media? How did you get into Facebook live and launch that into a growing local business?
At 58 years old my thought is we must redefine what it means to age. I surround myself with younger people, not on purpose, but because they are the ones who are the most help to me. When I ran for office my young staff had me on Facebook the day after it started. Social media is a natural for me and I use it well. Young folks kept me ahead of the curve.
We are using Facebook in a way many can't, won't or fear. Live has always been my weakness....I mean I thrive on it. A day after the live feature came out I was on there doing video's, figuring out how it worked and looking for ways to make money off it. Part of that desire is born out of desperation. Video production is easier and many don't need people like me to produce a video for them so I needed something to bring in the money. I found people who trusted me and launched "Get Real with Rick Dancer." Now we have "Live with Rick Dancer" and in November will begin "At The Car Wash, Live with Rick Dancer."
You must never get stale and that means being willing to jump on the next thing before others do.
You have a unique talent for drawing out stories, what is it about stories that are so compelling and how have you learned to bring those out of people?
I have always been a storyteller but the gift began as a listener. I was the kid who sat with the old folks at family gatherings and listened to the stories. Growing up I now believe I had some learning issues. Spelling was and still is very tough for me. Proper sentence structure and understanding the ins and outs of grammar have never been natural. For years that kept me from using my gift. I would not write because I didn't want people making fun of my technique. In the news business I discovered my heart and use of real language, real words, pauses, points and percussion in a sentence was much more important than punctuation, spelling and sounding acceptable to the masses.
This is what set me apart from others. Journalists used to poke fun at my techniques but none of them could match my ability to grab, squeeze and rip at the heart of a viewer. Learning to ignore them and winning numerous awards for writing, didn't silence the critics, but it made it so I didn't care, I understood what worked and used it.
For those who are looking to market their services and products, what are some key principles they need to understand about interacting with the current economy?
People today aren't just buying a product they are purchasing something from a person. They can buy a video from anyone but what makes my video better. It's not the equipment we use but the heart we bring to the story. People want to buy from people and yet many in marketing still look to the sell, sell, sell, in order to sell. What people want is you. They want to have a relationship with the person they are buying from. Purchasers are buying your brand. If a video producer wants to be the "Big Equipment Dude On The Block" that's their brand. Pretty pictures are nice but a story that helps you understand why the person serving you is serving you is far better than another drone video of your business.
People don't care what you sell or what you do they want to know why you do it. But to understand the customers why you have to first understand yours. Storytellers are curious people who are not looking for happy endings or even an ending but instead the passion of a life.
What projects are you working on lately that get you excited to continue with what you are doing?
My dream is to travel the country, the world and video the stories of everyday people. I want to visit the small towns, the nowhere towns, the overlooked "spots on a map" and unveil that place for the rest of us. I believe we are tried of the fast-paced get it done life. There is something soothing, sobering and peaceful about simplicity. But the problem is we are complex or at least we've create a complex way of life. In order to reveal simplicity in each of us, there is a process that only great storytelling can release. No one wants to be told how to live, but show me, show me how to do it through the words and actions of another person, and I may actually see it. So, while I love what I am doing I hope it blossoms into the next thing. I hope my world takes me on the road to the places less traveled. And of course, the trip won't be any fun without people like you to follow me.
As you look back on your life and the new chapters you are carving out what are some key things you believe are important for entrepreneurs?
Life is not about being comfortable. No, it's about learning to be comfortable with discomfort. Life is not about you. Yes, you have value and purpose but those around must always be treated better. What you do doesn't matter at all. Why you do it is all that counts. Most people will never get to the why. Oh, they say to help people but the real story is deeper and too many of us stop just outside the door of discovery. Challenging our perceptions and our lives is like walking on a sore foot that is tormented with a sliver. Instead of stopping to dig at it, cause it to bleed, drain the infection and pull the sliver out, we continue to walk on it until we get used to the pain. After a while we don't even feel the sliver but it's still there.
I am not the best father, husband nor am I the best businessman in the world but that's not my goal. I longed for freedom and now I have it. I longed to do what came natural to me and by learning to do things that are un-natural (vulnerability) I have found me. Cancer, losing, failing and struggling are my best teachers. While I would never purposely sign up for their classes, these educators continue to serve me well. Instead of trying to chase difficulty out of our lives what would happen if we look for it?
One parting comment: I learned during my political run for office that I can't please everyone, not even myself. But I can please God so now I live for an audience of one....or should I say, "The One." Thanks for listening.
You can find out more about Rick Dancer through his website, see him in action via Live with Rick Dancer on Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (@RickDancer).
How do you overcome your fear of not knowing where or how to get started when you think you are ready to start promoting your entrepreneurial vision online?
By Jon Isaacson
We have come a long ways from free trials of AOL and waiting for the dial up modem to connect with the internet to now constant connection to information on multiple platforms. Web content continues to evolve from the eclectic early MySpace communities to generic sites built on GeoCities to now being the super highway for disruption and innovation. Even though our personal use of the internet portal borders on addiction, there are many entrepreneurs, side hustlers and weekend warriors who are relatively in the dark when it comes to utilizing resources that are both simple and inexpensive. If you aren't sure how to get your vision working for you through the resources that the internet provides, here are a few simple tips to getting started.
Start with what you use. Are you on Facebook? Have you ever mentioned your business or the skills that you want to monetize on this platform? Most businesses endeavors start with approaching your friends and family as your initial client base, if you, your friends and your family are on Facebook why wouldn't you utilize this finger ready medium to promote your entrepreneurial venture? The next step would be creating a Facebook Page for your business, this is free, it is simple and it could serve as your businesses first foot print on the moon of internet commerce.
Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi
Start with what you know. Do you have knowledge, skills and/or products that could be of use to others in improving their lives? Share what you know about these items and distribute that information in as concise and clear an information package as you can manage. There is plenty of useless information on the internet, if you are authentic and have genuine information to share, there are people that are ready to listen. The internet is a platform that is always working for you and can expose you to clients that you otherwise would not physically be able to reach. Think in terms of what you can contribute that can serve others by saving them time or money by sharing the experience that you have acquired.
Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. Barry LePatner
Start with whom you know. Talk to the people who know you, your experience and your products/services, ask them about what they appreciate about what you do as a starting point for where you can connect with potential clients. It's one thing to have positive input from your friends and family, the next question for an entrepreneur is whether those feelings will transform into purchase orders. Having constructive input from trusted resources such as friends, family and mentors is essential to building your message, your network and your business. To read more about identifying, leveraging and building your market, read our article The Four Essential Who's of Breaking Into a New Market.
If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started. Drew Houston
As an entrepreneur, if you do not know where to start - start with what you are already using, start with what you know and start by trying your branding out on people whom you already know. If you are on a platform such as Facebook start with what you use, what you know and who you know by experimenting with promoting your business through that medium whether you post on your personal page or create a business page for your organization. If you want to share your insights and ideas with the world there are blogging resources such as Wordpress that make setting up a site simple and free, with a few clicks you are ready to start assailing the web readers with your quips. If you feel like you are ready to take a shot at having a personal or business website, tools such as Weebly make starting an entry level site easy. If you start you can adjust as you learn, if you never start you will always fail.
I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying. Michael Jordan
The voices inside you are probably battling between the comforting voice cheering you on, "You got this, if those idiots can do this than so can you!" While the voice on the other shoulder take a different tone, "There's no way you can do this, they're all going to laugh at you." Your first attempts will probably look like first attempts, your first articles may be boring, your first site will likely struggle to gain traction, but the reality is that 1) you'll be laps ahead of everyone else who is still sitting on their thumbs and 2) everyone else started out the same way. Whether it's learning a sport, an instrument, a language or how to navigate the modern market, the most important thing is to not enable your fears to cripple you - start somewhere and you will learn as you go. If you hit a wall or decide you want some assistance, you know where to find us.
There are things in business that boggle the mind as to how anyone could think this or that was a good idea, discussions that are often opinion based with the benefit of hindsight to judge the offending parties. One area that is very confusing is that there are business entities who are under utilizing the internet as a resource for their services and products. How is it that there are still churches and organizations with similar outreach based emphasis that do not have a website? There is no phone book, so if people want to find you they are going to the internet – it’s been this way for many years now. So, what are the barriers for these service groups to creating a simple web page presence?
First potential barrier, these organizations are so involved in their work that they don’t realize the interest exists. This is unlikely but I suppose it is possible. This level of being off the grid may not need to be helped, unless that was you and this is the first thing you are reading while online. Welcome to the future.
Second potential barrier, the belief that every on the internet must cost too much to create an internet friendly presence. This may be a real barrier as there are many non-profit as well as for profit organizations that don’t understand where to start in creating their online presence. If you are a small ministry or a new company it may seem like any amount of money spent on web advertising is prohibitive but any entity that wants to reach people, whether you are serving them or selling them, has to understand that the bulk of those people are online. An entry level website can be very cost effective and even inexpensive as at this point of engagement there are only a few key foundational items that need to be communicated such as location, meeting times and contact information which is very similar to a for profit business in communicating what services are offered and how to make a connection.
Third potential barrier, the belief that the internet is too complex to allow for people with no experience or programming knowledge to create websites. Nothing could be further from the truth as most of the entry level tools are nearly fool proof in your ability to create and/or maintain a simple site. Many website generators provide free sites, free templates and simple assistance with upgrades. There are blog sites as well as pages that can be created on social media platforms. Whether an organization or business is willing to try on their own or is looking to hire someone to assist, at the entry level websites can be value friendly with the right partner.
What is a website, think of it as your business card that is always working for you. Do you want people to know that you exist and be able to find basic information about how to find where you are, what you do and when you meet? The internet provides this potential for connection at very basic levels as well as opportunities to take advantage of a few key optimizing elements to boost your presence on the world wide web. Don’t let cost or complexity be a barrier to promoting your organization or business online, we have helped several friends, families, organizations and business owners get their start. Look for our IZ Ventures article soon covering where to start when launching your website or social media platform and contact us if you need assistance getting things going.
Jon Isaacson. Green belt in the puzzle art of business. Helping people clarify their vision, optimize productivity & follow through w/ creative solutions #MTWSL
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