In my role as a marketing manager for a large IT company, I get approached by agencies and martech vendors on a daily basis. I’ve received my (un)fair share of unsolicited emails, phone calls and blank Linkedin connection requests from total strangers. The vast majority of these messages are pretty bland but every now and then, I get a good one! I will share some of the best and one of the not-so-good messages (if I can fish it out of my ‘spam’ folder) I have received in the past year, hoping this will help spark your creativity and change the way you connect with your customers:
The source code detective
A tech vendor contacted me a couple of months ago but we had just recently acquired a similar solution from a competitor. This week he decided to follow up on how his competitor was doing, but he did it in the most ingenious way.
The technology in question typically requires a piece of code to be added to a company’s website and as you may know, a website’s source code is in the public domain; anyone can check it just by right-clicking on a page and selecting “View page source” (Don’t believe me? Try it!). So before speaking to me, the vendor looked through our source code and verified that the competitor’s code wasn’t there, which could suggest that we were no longer using them.
Armed with this piece of information, the conversation changed from a “Hey, are you still happy with our competitor?” to something way more specific: “I noticed that your website does not have a ‘company X’ tag anymore, did you stop working with them already?”
Why this is good
As a potential customer, that interaction now offered me something valuable. If we were in fact no longer using their competitor after only a couple of months, that indicates something went wrong and it would be the perfect timing for this vendor to introduce how they can do it differently. And if we were still working with their competitor, which is the case, then he’s alerting me to the fact that something in my website may not be working properly and I can look into fixing it. Even though I won’t be buying today, it was clever and memorable and helped create a more personal connection.
The video with my name on it
I’m scrolling through my inbox and spot an email with the following video preview:
That’s from a marketing agency who wanted to meet me. That definitely piqued my curiosity. How could I say ‘no’?
Why this is good
The person on the video is the same person who sent me the email and she also attended the first meeting. The note on the video looks hand-written. The message on the actual video was very targeted: she mentioned specific details about me and the company I work for and knew exactly where her agency could help us. This was no generic script! You could tell the amount of research that went into it, yet it looked simple. No fancy backgrounds or editing, no ellaborate email templates. Just a person speaking directly to me, straight to the point.
The passive-aggressive spam
This one I had to fish out of my spam box, where I placed it after reading it:
I assume by this message that they have emailed me (equally generic messages) before, but this was the first time I took notice, and for all the wrong reasons.
Why this is not good
For starters, their emails already get automatically tagged [BULK] in the subject line because my company’s spam filter probably picked up on keywords that indicate this is unsolicited.
Their tone is passive-aggressive; it sounds like something I would say to my 3 year-old after repeating myself several times: “OK, I will just assume you’re not hungry. If you want your toast here it is. Help yourself!”. It makes no attempt to win me over.
The content is vague and offers me absolutely no value: it doesn’t share what type of translations they do, which languages they cover, where I go for more information. It also doesn’t give me any indication that they know my company at all.
How could it be different
With a little bit of research on Google, they could have seen that the company I work for has an international presence and websites in multiple languages, so we very much have a need for translations. If they mentioned that on their email, it would have caught my attention.
In a couple of minutes on Linkedin, you can find the marketing professionals who work for my company who are not based in an English-speaking country. Instead of emailing every company in the world hoping something sticks, they could select a smaller number of companies and gather a bit more information about them to craft a more customised message. To find the right decision-makers in those targeted companies, they could search on Linkedin for marketing professionals with the keywords “translation” or “localisation” in their profiles, or who are based in non-English speaking countries. This way they stand a better chance of finding the people who will hire translation services.
At the very least, they could do a better job on their email of explaining what is unique about their translation agency and they have been doing for their customers. Give me examples of where you can add value.
Creative lead generation
Just to highlight some of the points covered in those examples, here are the do’s and don’t’s to help you stand out in front of potential new customers:
- Define your targeted audience, narrow it down to those that are more likely to become customers.
- Find innovative (licit) ways to gather the information you need to impress potential customers or even to help you decide if a customer is right for you before you invest your time going after them.
- Customise the message as much as possible, make it super relevant for your audience.
- Try new content formats that others aren’t using yet.
- Offer some real value.
- Speak like a human, be relatable.
- Don’t create generic content: you want your customers to be able to tell you apart from your competitors.
- Don’t be vague about your solutions: be clear about the value you bring and where you fit in.
- Don’t talk only about your products and services: connect at a personal level, make it about your customers, their priorities and needs.
- Don’t be rude: what goes around, comes around. Don’t close the door on future opportunities.
- Don’t over complicate it: creative solutions don’t have to cost a fortune.