How to Sell via Email

 

Selling with email is important. It’s a good way to drum up business quickly. The only faster way is for you to do cold calls—but if you’re like me you’d really rather stick your hand into a hot skillet than make a cold call!

 

So let me guide you through the process and show you the basics of email selling.

 

The main things I’m going to focus on are:

  1. Cold (or warm!) email prospecting, and
  2. Building an email newsletter and turning it into a sales tool.

 

With cold email, you’re reaching out directly to prospects at their email addresses. They usually don’t know you, and you don’t know them. I’m going to go over how to use this kind of email to build relationships with prospects and steadily warm them up to the idea of buying from you.

 

An email newsletter is more of a long-term selling plan, but as time goes by it should be able to drive even more business to your door. The trick is to get your site’s visitors interested in giving you their contact information and then to keep up a steady stream of useful emails that keep up buying desire.

 

So now you know what to expect, so let’s go.

 

Cold Email Prospecting

Who doesn’t love prospecting?

The first thing you need to do with your cold email prospecting is find your prospects. You’ll have to compile your own list of prospects and get them ready to go. It’s good to use a spreadsheet for this kind of thing.

 

First, you need to find some way to identify the businesses you want to reach out to. A good way to do this is through searching on LinkedIn, Google, or a local networking site. You can focus on one particular industry if you already know your niche, or you can try a selection of industries if you’re still working on it.

 

Personally, in my freelance work I trawl LinkedIn for leads. I’ll focus on one industry, and I’ll try to target any business with less than 200 employees. (Businesses that are much bigger than that generally have well-developed marketing departments and won’t be likely to need a freelancer.)

 

Once you find the business, you should try to hunt down an email address. You want to find an individual’s email address, and it’s best if you can find somebody who can make the decision to buy from you.

 

Finding a good email address is a major problem in these situations. Fortunately, there are plenty of services (like Hunter or Kompass) to help out with just this problem. Also, InMail is an option for LinkedIn users, and it may justify the cost of a premium LI account.

 

Now, once you’ve identified your targets and you’ve got your email addresses, the time has come for you to send your actual emails.

 

Especially if you’re short on business, it’s tempting to think that the best way to do this is to send out a stack of form emails so you can get responses from as many people as possible.

 

Bad idea. When you’re doing this, you want to put serious work into personalizing each email. Demonstrate that you’ve put some effort into learning about the company. Personalize and tailor your pitch to every individual you contact.

 

People can tell if you’re faking it. If you can spot a fake, generic email, they can spot a fake, generic email. If you want to get real opportunities, you have to prove you’re willing to invest a little bit of yourself into making a connection with your prospect’s needs. Because ultimately selling isn’t about making the sale. It’s about making a connection.

 

Email Lists

Not that kind of list…

As a long term strategy, you can market your business over time by building an email list. Creating a newsletter and building relationships over time is a good way to generate business at a pace that the prospect can determine for himself or herself.

 

The first problem in this process is to encourage the visitors to your site to give you their content information. One way to do this is through gated content.

 

Gated content is content that the visitor can only access after they’ve given you something in exchange. It can be an eBook that your prospects can access in exchange for an email address. It could be a free sample or trial offer of your service. It could be anything you’re willing to exchange.

 

After you’ve got your email list set up, you’ll have a steady flow of new prospects adding their contact info to your list. These lists are extremely valuable, especially if you’ve targeted your offer well.

 

But what do you do with them now?

 

Now you use a batch email tool like MailChimp to contact your prospects. You want to be sure to contact your email list at least once a month, or else your subscribers might forget they’ve signed up in the first place.

 

Frequency is up to you, though. Some prefer a weekly update. Some go biweekly. Some brave souls even go with a daily update.

 

The point isn’t how many emails you send out, though. While that’s an important aspect of email selling, the important thing is that you have a direct connection into your subscribers’ inboxes and you should take advantage of it.

 

Your goal here is to steadily inform your prospects about your services. You don’t want to be overtly salesy, but you do want to make it clear that you’ve got some valuable services to sell. Content is king, but you always want to remember your goal.

 

Never forget that the point of the newsletter is to drive sales. You always want to be educating your subscribers about the value of your offer. If you’re wondering what kind of content should go in your email newsletters, here’s your answer: only the content that makes it clear that you’re the one your prospects need to hire.

 

That could be a link to your blog. It could be market information. It could be a podcast. Whatever form of value you choose to give your subscribers, you should put that into your newsletter.

 

Over time, you’ll find a strategy that works for you. And once you find a strategy that works for you, you’ll be ready to sell.

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How to Build Your Email List

Used correctly, email can be an amazing sales tool. Even in the social media age, email selling is the standard by which all digital marketing is judged.

 

If you’re new to digital marketing, it can be hard to tell where to start with your email selling. And with so much information out there on the subject, it can be hard to tell where to start!

 

Never fear. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do with this blog post: I’m going to come up with a short guide to how you can leverage your online presence into effective email selling that helps you to improve your service and learn about your ideal customers all at once.

 

Of course, I don’t want to hype this up too much. Email selling has been around a while, and it’s definitely not a quick fix method. But if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort to get a good email campaign going, you can turn this into a highly effective tool for driving sales.

 

So as you keep on reading I’ll let you know exactly how to leverage your website into an effective selling tool.

 

Build Traffic with Social Media

Naturally, this whole thing isn’t going to get off the ground until you get some traffic to your website. And while there are many ways to do that, we’re going to focus on social media here.

 

Social media is an indispensable tool for digital marketing. It’s often the first point of contact between you and the people you’re meant to serve.

 

With your social media efforts you’ve got two things you’re most interested in: driving traffic to your site and making connections with prospects and other networkers.

 

Now, this article isn’t about social media marketing, but the point here is that an effective social media strategy will drive plenty of traffic to your site. So you want to be visible on social media. You want to be posting, commenting, and engaging with people. Actively.

 

Of course, I can’t tell you exactly how you should do that. The thing about social media is that you’ve got to develop your own style. If you’re doing it the same way everybody else does it, you might as well not even be doing it.

 

All I can tell you for sure is that you should commit to at least posting once per day on every site you or your organization is on. That will force you to develop your own unique approach.

 

Attract Prospects to Your Site with Quality Content

But what’s the point of having the social media in the first place if you’re not driving traffic back to your site? And how are you going to drive traffic back to your site unless you’ve got some great content to show your followers?

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of content marketing.

 

So what’s content marketing? Well, the short answer is that it’s informational content on your site that attracts readers (or viewers, or listeners) and gives them useful information.

 

Blog posts. Videos. Podcasts. How-to articles. Ebooks. All of that is content marketing.

 

Let’s assume you’re using blog posts. You want to drive your ideal prospects to your site. How do you do that?

 

Well, you write content that matches what your prospects need to see when they’re ready to buy from you. You educate them about what they need to know in order to understand your offer and what it can do for them.

 

The best part of this strategy is that web content lasts a long time. With a solid posting schedule and a good content strategy, you can turn a small site into an authority site and a recognized thought leader in your industry.

 

Build Your List with Gated Content

So you’ve got your traffic flowing into your site with your content. Now what?

 

Now you want to convince those visitors that it’s worth their while to send you their email addresses. You want to open up that flow of communication and foster that relationship.

 

How do you do that? Gated content, of course!

 

Gated content is content that your prospect can only access after they’ve performed some action. It could be signing up for an account, subscribing for email updates, or any one of a million possible things. In this case we’re assuming you’re offering them something in return for their email address and permission to contact them.

 

So what do you offer them? It’s got to be something your ideal prospect would want, and which will help educate them about the value of your offer. My personal favorite kind of gated content is an eBook lead magnet. It could be a how-to guide or a valuable bit of data.

 

If you use a how-to guide, stick to a subject your prospect will be interested in. Let them know how to do something they’d like to be able to do on their own (even if you and I both know they should go ahead and hire you if they want the best results).

 

And After That?

Once you’ve got your lead magnet ready and got it building your list, you need to start sending out emails. This is another thing where you’re going to have to work out your own plans. At the very least, you should reach out to your email lists once every month. (If you contact them less than that, some of your subscribers might start to forget who you are, and unsubscribe just as soon as they see your emails.)

 

Try not to be too salesy with your emails. Unless you want to be. It’s important to find an approach that works for you and go with it. I’ve seen some people go as shamelessly salesy as it’s possible to be, and I’ve seen some people run their email marketing in a much more subtle way. It depends on your style.

 

The prospects you’re meant to find are the kind of people who will appreciate your style. So feel free to experiment until you find the voice that works. When it does, you’ll know.

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How to Set Up Your Lead Magnet

You’ve got your content marketing up and running. You’ve got a steady stream of visitors coming to your site. You’ve got a pretty steady clip of blog comments piling up.

 

But there’s a problem.

 

Your conversion rates are way too low. You’ve got oodles of visitors coming to your site, but they’re not buying. Sure, maybe a few of them are getting in touch with you, but it’s not enough. You’ve got to crank up those numbers.

 

No worries though: this is where you make a lead magnet. If you already know about lead magnets, this is old stuff to you. If not, let me set the stage.

 

First off: the real action in selling online doesn’t come from your site. It comes from your email list. So you need to be able to build that email list.

 

But of course there’s a problem here, and it’s pretty obvious: people don’t love giving out their email addresses online, and they’re going to want something valuable in exchange. That’s where your lead magnet comes in.

 

So what is the lead magnet? A lead magnet is whatever you offer your prospects in exchange for their contact information.

 

It could be an eBook, a free trial period, or a free 30-minute consultation. It could be any of a wide variety of things. The point is that it’s something valuable that you’re giving away to your prospects.

 

Why use a lead magnet?

  • It leverages reciprocity. You give your prospects something valuable and they’ll be disposed to exchange value with you.
  • It establishes your authority with the prospect. This way, you don’t have to tell them you know what you’re talking about. You show them.
  • It allows you to educate your prospect on the value of your products and services without the whole drama and angst of a sales presentation.
  • But most importantly: it incentivizes your prospects to give you their email addresses.

 

A good lead magnet is part sales document and part educational piece. Writing a good lead magnet can take significant time and effort, but the results are well worth the investment.

 

Just like content marketing, some companies prefer to outsource the work to skilled professionals who have demonstrated an ability in the field. But if you’d like to have a crack at it yourself, I’ve got some steps together that you can follow in prepping your lead magnet.

 

Choose Your Topic

I’m a writer, so I’m going to assume we’re going with some kind of written informational lead magnet. This isn’t the only kind of lead magnet you could consider, but it’s the one I’ve got the most expertise and understanding in, so we’ll go with it.

 

(Just in case you’re interested, some other types of lead magnets include free trial offers, access to market information, etc.)

 

One of the classics of the lead magnet genre is the how-to guide. This is pretty intuitive, since it’s just an eBook guide that tells your prospect how to get something done.

 

Ideally, your how-to guide will be about something your prospect could do if they had the time or energy, but that it’s easier for them to hire your organization to do for them. (This is part of the underlying sales message of your lead magnet.)

 

More than likely, you’ve already got a pretty clear idea of what a good lead magnet topic would be for your organization. If not, take a minute and think of some problems your organization solves for clients who could take care of the problem for themselves, at the cost of some major inefficiency.

 

It shouldn’t take you long to think of something.

 

Write and Produce Your Lead Magnet

When you’re writing your lead magnet, remember it’s supposed to do three things:

  1. Add value to the prospect.
  2. Educate your prospect about your products or services.
  3. Incentivize the prospect to give you their contact information.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but this point is important: the lead magnet isn’t primarily a sales tool, but you want your prospect to finish reading with the distinct impression that they could do the thing, but it would be better to adopt your professional services.

 

You don’t necessarily want to sell them immediately, but you want them to at least imagine buying from you.

 

But that’s not the main goal. The main goal is to give the prospect something valuable, so he or she will be more disposed to open your sales emails and do business with you later on.

 

That means you want to give good information, for one thing. And for another thing, you want the copy in your lead magnet to be well-written and conversational enough that the prospect will actually want to read the thing.

 

You’re asking for your prospect’s time and attention here, and that’s the most valuable commodity they have. That means your lead magnet had better be good enough to deserve that attention.

 

Set Up Your Email List

Now that you’ve got your lead magnet produced, you want to get it up on your site where it can do you some good. If you haven’t already done so, this is the time to get your email list up and running.

 

Your email list is going to be the most valuable sales tool in your digital marketing efforts. It’s going to give you the chance to educate your prospects on your offerings and gradually dial in on their needs and desires.

 

That’s why you’re going to want an opt-in screen that’s optimized to generate as many opt-ins as possible. You want to make sure your prospect has a real incentive to give you his or her email address and open up the lines of communication.

 

You’re going to want to run your email list through a batch email service such as Mailchimp. Mailchimp is usually a good idea for new email marketers, because it has a free option and allows the service to grow with your list.

 

We’ll talk about this in more depth some other time, but you’re going to want to make sure to optimize your opt-in and rigorously iterate your sales emails on a long-term basis. (These are serious issues, but unfortunately they take us pretty far afield from this blog post.)

 

The important thing is that you realize email marketing is a serious commitment and it’s something that will take a lot of adjustment, especially at the beginning.

 

Conclusion

Your lead magnet is the first crucial link in the chain leading your website’s visitors from their first visit to the day they become customers or clients. The idea is simple, but the execution can vary incredibly.

 

Some lead magnets are brilliant pieces of writing. They’re funny, thoughtful, informative, and a joy to read. Those are the lead magnets that build goodwill with the prospect and dispose him or her to open your emails when they show up in the inbox.

 

Some lead magnets are awful, boring, predictable things with confusing language and useless information. They’re the kind of thing that make a prospect want to unsubscribe from your list as soon as possible.

 

Remember that when you’re putting together your lead magnet. This is one of the first points of contact a prospect will have with your brand.

 

What kind of first impression do you want to make?

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How to Engage Prospects With Social Media

I know, I know, you’ve heard everywhere that you need to be on social media. But if you’re on social media you’re probably not trying hard enough. And if you are trying hard enough you’re probably not catching your mistakes. And if you are catching your mistakes… well, if you’ve reached that point I’m the one who should be asking you for advice!

 

The thing about social media is that there are a million ways to do it all wrong. So I hope you won’t take offense if I say you’re probably doing about nine hundred thousand things wrong right about now.

 

(It’s nothing personal, it’s just that there’s a learning curve at work here.)

 

There’s an upside to that statistic I just made up though: if you can get your act together and do social media right, you can master it. And since you’re doing nine hundred thousand things wrong, there’s plenty of space for improvement.

 

So let’s cut through the misconceptions about social media and figure out how you can really use social media to get real results.

 

Build Individual Relationships

So many brands and so many freelancers get into the (frankly awful) habit of thinking their whole social media effort is about racking up followers. The thought process here seems to be, “Well, if I have ninety billion followers, some of them are bound to trickle down and buy eventually.”

 

Now, maybe if you’re Wal Mart that kind of thinking can work. If you’re Wal Mart, you can afford to throw a few million bucks at the problem and see if it does anything. And if it doesn’t, it’s no big deal.

 

But here’s the facts, bub: you ain’t Wal Mart.

 

Prospecting and selling on social media means actually getting out there and actually engaging with people. Make friends. Crack jokes. Ask questions. Everybody’s out there trying to do the same thing you are. Find the people you belong with and get to know them.

 

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “That’s good and well for a freelancer, but my small business can’t do that kind of thing.” And to an extent you’re right. People aren’t generally eager to have brands jump in on their conversations (especially not in any overtly salesy way).

 

But even if you’re a small or medium-sized business, you have options for building relationships. You can host a Twitter chat. You can ask questions and follow up with the people who answer them. You can steadily use social media as a tool to dial in on who your prospects are, how to find them, and what they need to hear from you.

 

Speak to Your Prospects’ Needs

Here’s the thing: it’s much easier to produce content that speaks to your prospects’ concerns after you’ve built a relationship with a few of them. And I’m not talking about all that malarkey people like to spew about big data and how it’s supposedly so useful. This is about getting to know your prospects.

 

I’m talking real, human knowledge. I’m talking the kind of knowledge that you feel in your fingers and in your tongue. It’s that little glow in the heart you feel when you meet somebody you can really respect and admire.

 

It’s not something you can manufacture with data. It’s not something you can find an algorithm for. It’s a matter of real human connection. People can tell the difference between somebody who’s going through the motions for the sake of making a sale or doing what the data says and somebody who’s really speaking to them.

 

I don’t want to get all mushy here, but I think that’s what words like “spirit” mean. It’s something people share when they’re really and genuinely speaking and listening to one another. And it’s exactly that which you need to bring into your social media use.

 

If you hear the concerns of people you’ve gotten to know and genuinely care about, you’ll gain insights into your prospects’ needs that you can’t access any other way. And that is how you create a social media presence that stands out from the pack.

 

Experiment Constantly

Among other things, this means being consistent with your social media use. From now on, there are no days off social media. You’re here for a reason, and you’re not leaving until you figure out how to satisfy that reason.

 

Listen: every industry is different, and you’re going to have to figure out what works best for you. I’m a freelance writer and I do a lot of my marketing on social media. That means I’m interested in finding brands that need a skilled writer. And that means I’m constantly calibrating my approach to figure out what these brands need and how best to serve them with my social media presence and my blog.

 

Sure, experimenting with social media takes a lot of effort. But the more effort you put into the process, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more you’ll eventually come to love social media.

 

Believe me. When I first started working on Twitter and LinkedIn, I hated social media. I thought it was a vapid waste of time and that anybody who wasted their time with it was an idiot who deserved to have his or her head smashed in. (That probably accounts for a lot of the mistakes I made at the beginning!)

 

But if you stick with it, you’ll realize there’s more to social media than angry people spouting their awful political opinions all over the place. There’s a wealth of information out there. There are brilliant people doing brilliant work. With a little time and a little cleverness, a network like Twitter can allow you to connect to almost anyone you can even dream of contacting.

 

Think about that for a minute.

 

Make a list of five people you’d like to get in touch with someday.

 

Go see how many of those people have a Twitter account just like yours.

 

Remember: if you get good enough at social media, you can take your account (or your brand’s account) and connect to anybody. The possibilities are literally only limited by your imagination.

 

So keep at it. Maybe you’re fumbling through the social media these days. But with time and practice you can turn it into something amazing.

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How to Put Twitter Marketing to Work for You (Part 1 of 3)

 

Twitter is one of the most widely used social media sites on the net. With 319 million active users as of the last quarter of 2016, Twitter is a marketing hot spot ready for the taking.

 

So how do you get all that goodness working for you? Well, read along and I’ll give you the guidelines!

 

  1. Define your goals.

It can’t get any simpler than this: if you don’t know what your goals are, you won’t know when you’ve accomplished them.

 

Are you trying to draw traffic to your site? Are you trying to increase your follower count? Are you trying to use Twitter to directly increase sales?

 

All of these goals require different tactics and different metrics. It’s important to define objectives at the beginning, or else you’ll never know if you’ve succeeded. And even though it can be tempting to go after followers, sales, and traffic all at once, remember the old saying: “If you chase two rabbits, you lose them both.”

 

  1. Follow influencers in your industry.

If you’re going to break your message through, you’re going to have to figure out what the most successful people in your industry are doing. So follow them. Also: be sure to follow anybody you’d like to do business with in the future—it helps you keep tabs on prospects.

 

When you follow influencers and watch what they post, you can learn what works in your industry. And if you like, you can always put a little influencer marketing to work. Either way, it’s good to be able to recognize the influencers and learn from their ideas.

 

  1. Post regularly.

This one should be obvious. Remember: if you’re not posting regularly, you might as well not be posting at all.

 

Consistency is the name of the game. There are some companies out there that post to Twitter once a week, without a plan and without any intention of following up.

 

That’s not an acceptable procedure. You’re never going to get results without posting at least once a day, and probably a fair bit more than that. Social media is an iterative process, so the more often you post, the faster you get to know what your followers engage with!

 

  1. Combine Twitter with content marketing.

If you’ve got social media generating plenty of clicks to your site but your content is so bad nobody looks at it, you’ve got a problem. So how do you fix that?

 

Get some content marketing going on that site. The best strategy combines great social media postings with content that gives your visitors excellent value. Your visitors have to see the kind of professional content you’re capable of producing.

 

Content marketing also feeds into some remarketing tactics you should probably hear about. Unfortunately, I’m not going to have any space to fit that info into this post, so you’ll have to wait till tomorrow. Sorry!

 

  1. Retweet and promote others.

If you want people on Twitter to promote your brand, you have to start out by promoting other people’s brands. It doesn’t have to be anything excessive. Just a retweet or a mention now and again can be enough.

 

When you retweet someone else, you’ll be able to see if they reciprocate by retweeting one of your tweets. This kind of informal arrangement can lead to strong social and business relationships.

 

But watch out: there are many accounts out there that are so eager to retweet that they drown out their own brand in the process. So just watch out and make sure not to overdo it!

 

  1. Be social!

Here’s another one that should be obvious. This is social media. You need to be social.

 

Now, what’s that mean? Two things.

 

First off, it means you need to engage with your followers. If you keep up the social media campaign for any length of time, you’re going to gather fans who want to form a relationship with your brand. If you’re looking for business, you respond to them. You never know what business enthusiasm can lead to.

 

Second, it means you need to have a friendly and approachable online presence. Sure, you want to be consistent with your brand, but it’s important that you show a human face. It pays off in the end.

 

  1. Test to find the best posting times.

Generally, B2B businesses get the best results by posting sometime around noon (when people are on their lunch breaks), while B2C businesses do better later in the evening. That’s how they maximize their impressions and their engagement.

 

But that being said, there are a ton of variables here. If your social media following is spread out over a wide geographical area, for example, your optimum time to post will be likely to change.

 

So the real takeaway here is that you should be mindful of when you post. It takes a little testing to get it just right, but the results are worth the effort.

 

  1. Consider hiring a professional.

Let’s face it: you’re a busy person, and your time is valuable. Sure, you could take the time and the classes to learn how social media marketing works. Sure, you could spend the time and resources to take care of a social media strategy yourself.

 

You could do that.

 

But once again: you’re a busy person. Every minute you spend working over the social media is another minute you’re not spending running your business and coming up with new ideas. It’s definitely worthwhile to talk to a professional who knows what he or she is doing when you’re working on social media.

 

  1. Make sure your content is valuable.

This is something that’s definitely going to vary with your industry.

 

Valuable content in a B2B business might mean information about how your followers can solve problems relevant to your expertise.

 

In an entertainment business, it will mean spreading new and exciting things for your audience to enjoy.

 

Ask yourself this question: what kind of content will my ideal customer be most likely to enjoy and engage with?

 

Figure that out, and you know what you need to post. (And since you post regularly, you can experiment with this to find out what gets you the best results.)

 

  1. Consider using paid advertising.

One of the unfortunate facts about social media marketing is that organic growth is just about an impossible nut to crack. Twitter is engineered to give you best results if you shell out a little for advertising.

 

I’ll get into more detail with this tomorrow, but if you’re serious about making Twitter into one of your marketing venues, you’ll need to get serious about using Twitter ads. I know you might not be too happy to hear that, but it’s true.

 

But here’s the fact: if your business has the marketing budget to make a case study, it has the budget to get an ROI on Twitter ads.

 

How? Wait till tomorrow!

 

As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at geofreycrow@crowcopywriting.com.

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What are Case Studies? (Part 3 of 3)

 

We’ve spent the last couple of days talking about what case studies are and how you can create one. Now, that’s great and wonderful, but in the end there’s only one real question: what are you going to do with your case study once you’ve got it?

 

I think we can all agree that that’s the real question here.

 

And what’s the answer? Here’s the short answer: plenty. A well-written case study is a versatile marketing tool, so it’s not really limited to one use.

 

I’ve taken a little time to get together ten of the most common uses. But before I do that, I’ve got a little admission to make: a case study is usually only cost-effective in an industry where you’ve got a high Customer Lifetime Value. So if you’re selling bubble gum, you might want to move along.

 

Now that we’ve got that caveat out of the way, here’s our list:

 

  1. Build credibility for your solution.

This is the value of the interview. if you want to show your prospects why your business is great, who are they more likely to believe: you or your customers?

 

That’s pretty obvious, I know. If they’re going to be putting their money on the line for your solution, they’ll want to hear from your customers. They’ll want to hear about how your business has added real value.

 

With a case study, you’ve got an accessible and compelling way to demonstrate that value. And if you pepper your case study with the customer’s own words, you add another layer of trust and credibility.

 

  1. Prove your industry knowledge.

How many of you have ever had a prospect who was just perfect for your offer, but they kept dragging their feet and saying, “But I don’t know if it will work for me.”?

 

We’ve all been there before. And we’ve all wracked our brains now and again, trying to come up with a way to dissolve that resistance.

 

When your prospect reads your case study, they should see a person a lot like them, in a company a lot like theirs. That way, when they see how your solution worked for this other company, they’ll be able to understand how you can help them.

 

And if you can make it personal to them, you can build a relationship.

 

  1. Engage your prospect’s imagination.

We’ve talked about this before, but one of the most important things about a case study is that it’s a story.

 

Now why’s that so important? We’re all human beings, right? Well, as human beings we’ve evolved to pick up information through stories.

 

Why’s Harry Potter so popular? Why did Disney pay George Lucas a billion dollars for the rights to the Star Wars franchise? Why do people dress up in elaborate costumes to go see the latest Marvel movie?

 

Simple: because it’s a great story. With a case study, you have a chance to tell your prospects a great story.

 

Now, I know it probably won’t be anything as dramatic as stopping Voldemort or blowing up the Death Star, but your story has a drama and a value of its own. The people who are meant to work with you will recognize that drama and value.

 

But they’ll only recognize it if you get that case study.

 

  1. Educate your prospect about your offer’s value.

Let’s face it: sometimes your prospects don’t immediately understand the value of your offer.

 

Maybe it’s an older prospect who doesn’t understand your software. Maybe it’s a first-time business owner who can’t see why this equipment is necessary. Maybe it’s an executive who’s worried about passing up a major chance.

 

Here’s the thing: we’ve all got our areas of expertise, and sometimes you’ll be working with a prospect who needs your solution but just doesn’t get your offer.

 

With your case study in hand, you can show those prospects why your offer will help them. When they see the way your solution has resolved a problem similar to theirs, they’ll be much more interested in discussing what you can do for them.

 

  1. Accumulate social proof.

In his classic book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini spends a chapter on the concept of social proof. He says the principle of social proof “states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.”

 

So how does a case study create social proof? That’s simple enough. When you show your prospects that others like them have benefitted from your offer, it’s much easier to convince them they could benefit.

 

When you were a newcomer, it was hard to show a prospect the value of your solution. But now that you’ve built a base of loyal clients, you can leverage that social proof to scale your business.

 

Case studies are a way for you to get that leverage.

 

  1. Learn what your best customers value in your offer.

This is a bit of a hidden benefit, but if you think about it for a minute it makes a lot of sense. Think about it: if you’re trying to improve your business, what do you want to know?

 

That’s obvious, you think. You want to know about the problems customers have with your offer and what you can do to improve it. It stings to hear those customer complaints, but they’re awfully valuable, right?

 

That’s a good answer. But it’s not the whole story.

 

Of course you want to know what your unhappy customers think you’re doing wrong. But isn’t it at least as important to know what your happy customers think you’re doing right? Of course you want to know what you need to change. But isn’t it at least as important to know what needs to stay the same?

 

A solid case study can get you that information. Sure, it’s mostly a marketing tool. But it’s also a valuable insight into what excites your best customers.

 

  1. Repurpose your case studies (Both on- and offline).

Now, a lot of the things I’ve been talking about here are geared toward softening up a sales process. That’s definitely one of the strong points of a case study. But it’s not the only use, and more often than not it’s not even the main use.

 

Post your case studies on your website. Convert them into infographics and YouTube videos. Blog posts, podcasts, press releases, you name it! With a little extra work, you can get out feelers on all your marketing channels.

 

And when you do that, you can have a self-selected group of warm prospects approaching you. In that way, case studies make a great hammer in your marketing toolbox.

 

  1. Remind yourself what your business is all about.

Now, I know this isn’t really a business benefit. But doesn’t it happen sometimes that we forget what we’re in business for? We find that routine that works, and we fall into it so deep we lose track of what it’s all about.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday. We get so caught up in running our businesses that we start to forget they’re about people.

 

Your business is about serving people, in the end. So sometimes the real value of the case study can be to show you the difference you’ve made. Because we’ve all got to take care of business, but in the end “taking care of business” is just another way of saying we take care of each other.

 

Business is about the relationships we form along the way. And at its best, a case study can be a way to remind us of that.

 

As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Be sure to take a look at yesterday’s article if you want to know more about case studies. Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at geofreycrow@crowcopywriting.com.

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What are Case Studies? (Part 2 of 3)

 

Yesterday we talked about what case studies are, and I gave you a few ideas on how a great case study can show off what’s special about your business. Today I’m going to give you a step by step guide to producing a case study that grabs your prospect and forces them to read every word.

 

(Just a side note: if you haven’t taken a look at yesterday’s article yet, here’s a quick rundown on what you need to know.

 

A case study is a marketing tool that shows your prospects the value of your offering.

 

Most of the time, a case study will:

 

  • Share a compelling story that shows your how your company solved a customer’s problem.
  • Present the story from your customer’s point of view.
  • Display an angle that shows the unique thing that makes your company shine.
  • Educate your prospects on the value of your offering.

 

Case studies are usually about one to four pages long. The very best of them tells a story that informs, entertains, and inspires.)

 

I’ll be honest with you: it’s not easy to craft a brilliant case study. But with a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, you should be able to get the job done. Of course, a professional copywriter will usually be eager to take that work off your hands if you don’t have the time.

 

So without any further ado, let’s get writing, shall we?

 

  1. Find one of your best, most typical customers, and schedule an interview with a representative.

Now, this is a pretty simple step in and of itself, but I wanted to take some time to talk about it so I could draw your attention to the two key words here. What are the key words?

 

They are: best and most typical (okay, technically that’s three words. Sorry.).

 

You want to have your interview with your best customers for plenty of reasons. First off, if they’re you’re best customers, you’re more likely to be able to get a compelling story when you interview them, right?

 

And I know this is probably pretty obvious, but I might as well say it anyways: just like it’s best to get a review or a testimonial from your best customers, it’s best to get a case study from them, too. They’ve got the most value out of your offering and they’ll have an infectious enthusiasm that will spread to the people who read your case study.

 

It might be a little less obvious why I say you should go with your most typical customers. But that’s just a matter of practicality. I mean, if you’re trying to show your prospects what your offering can do, you’re not going to want them to read about that customer who buys a half-dozen special services and none of your typical offerings, are you?

 

Of course not. You’re going to want to interview the customer who buys your most common offer. After all, you’re telling this customer’s story. Don’t you want it to be one your typical prospect can relate to?

 

Sure you do. So break out that phone or keyboard and schedule that interview!

 

  1. Prepare for and conduct the interview.

When it comes to it, a phone or Skype interview is just fine for this part. It takes some practice to get good at interviewing, but let me just give you a few pointers so you can get the information you need.

 

Here’s the main thing to remember when you’re conducting interviews: never forget what you need to get out the interview.

 

What’s that, then? First off, you want story you can share with your prospects to show them the value of your offer.

 

That means you want to know all the facts and figures of the company. You want to be able to explain what they do and why they do it. Simple enough, right?

 

Second, you want to know about the problem that led this company to approach yours. (Protip: make sure you’ve got a clear description of the problem and the pain points involved.)

 

Third: you want to know how your company solved the problem. (Of course, you already know this, but you want to get the story from your customer’s point of view.) When the time comes to write your story, this will be where your company swoops in to save your customer.

 

Last: you want to know the results. That means you want to know the statistics that prove the value you’ve provided.

 

With a practiced hand, you should be able to fit all this information into a short interview. No pressure, you’ve got this.

 

  1. Write your first draft.

Now that you’ve got it all together, it’s time to get into the writing process. Luckily for you, case studies generally have a pretty standard structure, so you don’t have a lot to worry about on that front.

 

Remember: you’re telling a story here. The same skills go into crafting a good case study that go into telling a good story.

 

So what’s a good story? A good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, you introduce your hero—in this case, your customer. In the middle, you introduce your hero’s problem and show them trying to solve it. And in the end, they solve it—with a little help from you and your company, of course!

 

Of course, describing basic story structure is one thing and actually writing an effective story is another thing. Skillful writing is a matter of practice and mastery, just like any other craft. But with time, discipline, and sheer will power, you can learn it.

 

  1. Edit and revise.

This part of the process is pretty obvious, I’ll admit. You tidy up your sentence structure. You check your spelling. You eliminate your passive verbs and you eliminate every word that doesn’t contribute to the meaning of your story.

 

You’ll probably want to give it to a few people you can trust to give you honest feedback on your work. Ask them if everything makes sense and if it all fits together just right.

 

(Trust me on this: I’ve written things I thought made perfect sense, but when I ran it by a couple of readers I found out I’d made some silly mistakes. You never can tell what people might misunderstand.)

 

Now that you’ve edited, pay attention to this part: before you use your case study for anything, you should run it by your customer and have them sign off on it. This is important: you want to get your customer to approve of the final article before you do anything with it.

 

So that’s the process! As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Be sure to take a look at yesterday’s article if you want to know more about case studies. I’ll tell you some more about what you can use them for tomorrow!

 

Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at geofreycrow@crowcopywriting.com.

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What are Case Studies? (Part 1 of 3)

 

What’s a case study? A case study is a multi-use marketing tool that you can think of as something like a testimonial on steroids. With case studies, you tell your prospects a story about how your company solved a problem for them.

 

A case study is an article that tells your customer’s story in his or her own words. You’ll conduct an interview to get to know the story, and you’ll take that story and mold it into a handy sales and marketing tool.

 

With a case study, you tell your prospects a story where your customer is the hero and your company steps in to help them with a problem. It’s one of the most effective ways to build social proof and credibility for your company.

 

Good and well, you think. Why should you care?

 

Well, the reason you should care is because your prospects are much more interested in hearing about what your product or service has done for other people than they are in hearing about what the features are.

 

It’s all about benefits to the prospect instead of features of the product.

 

Why’s that? Simple. I’ll give you two reasons:

 

  1. We all care the most about what’s good for us.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can you say people care the most about what’s good for them? Am I saying everybody’s selfish? Am I saying people only care about themselves?

 

You can go ahead and relax. I’m not preaching Ayn Rand here. I’m just saying we’ve all got our own business and preoccupations, so if you want somebody’s attention it pays to speak to their business and preoccupations.

 

And of course people care about more than just themselves. But the hard fact of life is that you have to make sure your own house is in order before you can deal with anybody else’s needs. So considering what a challenge it can be to keep ourselves in order sometimes, it’s quite the accomplishment that we manage to help others as much as we do.

 

So that’s that: we care about what’s good for us, and we’ve got good reason to.

 

So when your prospects hear about your product or service, they’re not going to be terribly interested in a bunch of features of your service.

 

Think about it: when you go to buy a TV, do you really care how many megapixels the screen has? Or does the crystal-sharp image on the screen catch your eyes a lot more effectively?

 

Megapixel is just a technical-sounding word. It sounds good, sure. But be honest now: isn’t it the fact that you can make out every single blade of grass on that baseball field that really sells you on a TV screen?

 

Your customers are the same way. They like to hear about what your product or service has done for people like them.

 

Features of your product are nice, and you can tell your prospects about them if you want. But that’s not what captures their imagination or gives them the serious desire to buy.

 

  1. Human beings love stories.

Imagine you’re a caveman sitting out on the edge of a scorching desert around thirty-five thousand years ago. You’re sitting on a tuft of hardy grass and chewing on a hunk of raw antelope meat.

 

It’s tough stuff. You have to bite down hard to get it in your mouth, and you have to chew it forever to get it down enough to swallow it. It doesn’t taste very good, and it’s awfully hard on your stomach.

 

But what choice do you have? Raw meat is the only meat around.

 

So let’s say your buddy Og from the next cave over walks up to you. Og thinks he’s something special because he hired some avant-garde guy called a “painter” to draw buffalo on the wall of his cave.

 

(They don’t look anything like buffalo, you think. Besides, what good are they when you can’t eat them?)

 

Anyways, Og likes to show off how cosmopolitan he is, so he starts telling you about a guy he knows in the next valley over.

 

“He work R & D on something he call fire,” Og says.

 

“Technology getting out of hand these days,” you say. “What this so-called fire supposed to do?”

 

“Make meat taste better,” Og says. “Scare predators away. Keep cave warm and bright at night.”

 

“Crazy tech apologist,” you mutter. But you’re still curious enough to ask, “How your friend find out about fire?”

 

And Og smiles, opens his mouth, and tells you all about it.

 

Here’s the simple fact of the matter: human beings absorb information best through stories. Stories frame information in an accessible way, and they don’t overwhelm us with technical detail that makes the thing sound intimidating.

 

There are a lot of industries out there where prospects have a clear need for a service, but it’s hard to articulate that need to them because they don’t have the technical knowledge. It’s one of those things where people need to work within their specialty.

 

That’s where a case study can help you. It teaches people about your offering in terms they can understand.

 

Not everyone has the technical knowledge it takes to immediately understand the practical benefits of a complex offering. So when you let them know about your offering in terms of a story about A) a person similar to them, B) facing a problem similar to theirs, and C) resolving it with your product or service, you can educate them to the point where they know enough to decide whether they’re interested in learning more.

 

With a seductively-written case study, you can educate your prospects and streamline your sales and marketing process. You can build credibility for your business by allowing someone else to speak about what your product or service can do for them. You can even use your case studies as sources for testimonials on your site.

 

I’ll let you know more about the uses for your case study on Thursday. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the process of writing your case studies.

 

Thanks for reading. Have you used case study marketing before? Did you write it yourself, or did you hire a professional to take care of it? Let me know in the comments!

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What to do if you Have to Use Cold Email Selling

 

People will tell you cold email is spammy.

 

People will tell you cold email is disruptive and annoying.

 

People will tell you that when you send cold emails, you kill that little part of your soul you wanted to keep safe and secure from the corruption of the cruel, harsh world we all live in.

 

But the truth is different from that.

 

Here’s the truth: cold email is spammy, annoying, and soul-destroying. But sometimes you have to do it anyways.

 

It’s not your fault. It’s the world’s fault. You’re a special, wonderful little creature, and it’s not your fault you’ve got to rustle up business somehow.

 

So here are the facts, bub: you’ve got to make some sales, and you’ve got to make some sales quick. That means you need to get yourself together and start sending some cold emails.

 

Are you ready? Me neither.

 

So if you’ll pick up your soft blanket, your teddy bear, and your motion sickness bag, we can get this unholy thing over with.

 

In this article, you’re going to find a few things:

 

  1. A guide to identifying your prospects
    1. Understanding your offer/customer
    2. Customer personas
    3. Building your prospect list
  2. A guide to contacting your prospects and getting responses
    1. Subject lines
    2. Tactics for short letters
    3. Tactics for long letters
  3. A guide to turning responses into sales.
    1. Keeping control of the conversation
    2. When to go for phone calls or Skype sessions
    3. How to close the sale

 

How does that sound?

 

Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s much worse.

 

So: put on the inspirational music, plaster on your fake smile, and come with me through the first circle of the Inferno.

 

Identifying Your Prospects

You want to get your business going, and that means you need to get your prospects lined up. You need to get a nice, fat list of ideal prospects all ready to hear your pitch and snap up your products or services.

 

How do you do this?

 

Well, if you’re a brain-dead numbskull and you deserve to have your brain driven in with a sledgehammer, you’ll reach for the phone book and start contacting businesses one by one.

 

(Yes, phone books still exist.)

 

If you’re a little less dumb, you’ll get a customer persona together before you even think about taking a look at your prospect list. I’ll tell you all about customer personas in just a minute, so don’t you worry yourself about that.

 

Once you get your customer persona together, you’ll want to go online to get your actual list together. If you’re a savvy internet-user and you’ve gotten together a good customer persona, you can take out a lot of the pain of cold emailing.

 

Because let’s be frank: cold emailing is nobody’s favorite method of selling. But it can be effective, and it can be quick. If you’re smart about it, you’re not going to be bothering anybody.

 

Put it this way: the better you get at cold email, the less you’ll feel like you’re spamming people. And this is literally true, too: because spammy emails don’t succeed.

 

A lot of the problem of cold email is the problem of getting out of this mind-set that you’re doing something wrong.

 

Ask yourself these questions if you have any doubts:

 

Am I selling a quality product or service?

 

Am I contacting people who are likely to be interested in my product or service?

 

Am I approaching these people in a way that makes it easy for them to choose whether or not they are interested in my business?

 

That’s what it takes to avoid your cold email becoming spammy. Those are the problems we’re here to solve with this article.

 

Customer Personas

I want you to imagine something: I want you to imagine the kind of person you would most like to sell to. You know the kind of thing I mean.

 

What kind of business are they in? What kind of problems are they facing? What’s the size of their company?

 

That’s the image you want to have in mind while you’re identifying your prospects. That’s part of what I’m talking about when I talk about a customer persona.

 

The first part of getting a customer persona together is getting to know their company. You want to define the types of companies that are most likely to benefit from your service.

 

That’s simple enough, isn’t it? Sure it is.

 

What you’re doing here is setting up a list of criteria for businesses to show up on your final prospect list.

 

Is the company too small to get any value from your product or service? It’s off your list.

 

Is the company in an industry that’s outside of your niche? It’s off your list.

 

When you’re putting these criteria together, it can feel like you’re being a little too restrictive. But don’t worry about it: it’s better to start with a list that’s too targeted than one that’s not targeted enough.

 

Now that you’ve got your basic customer persona together, it’s time for the fun part: now you need to get into your ideal customer’s head. It’s important to get to know as much as possible about the kind of person you’re dealing with, so you can know how to sell to them.

 

You want to ask yourself questions like this:

 

  1. What kinds of problems does this person work with all day?
  2. What kinds of fantasies does this person have?
  3. What are the everyday aches and pains that this person deals with?
  4. What is it about my product or service that really makes it indispensable for this person?

 

These questions are important. These questions are crucial. Because with cold email, it’s extremely easy for you to forget you’re selling to human beings. (That’s when your emails start getting spammy.)

 

If you can get into your ideal prospect’s head, you’ve got a fighting chance of using your cold email tactics to reel in more sales than you thought possible.

 

Hunting for Email Addresses

Now, you’re ready to actually go and get your list together. Remember: as you’re making this list, you want to contact the person who is most likely to be the decision-maker.

 

Maybe that sounds obvious, but let me tell you this much: when you’re doing it, you’re going to feel a real temptation to cut this corner and go for the generic company email. In the moment, it feels like you’re saving time and effort.

 

So I want you to remember an important truth that’s served me well as long as I’ve been smart enough to know about it. It’s a little truth I like to call NEVER trust your feelings.

 

Now, this is going to take us a little far afield, but I think it’s worth emphasizing: your feelings have never, and will never lead you anywhere you want to be. Let’s be honest: if you listened to what your feelings told you, wouldn’t you be lying in bed all the time crying your eyes out and eating ice cream?

 

(I mean that seriously. It’s a serious question. Am I the only person on Earth who feels like that all the time?)

 

So if you want to make it anywhere in life, you stuff those feelings deep, deep, deep down where you can resolve them healthily sometime long after you’re dead.

 

Now back to the point. You’re going to want to contact someone who is:

 

  1. A decision-maker capable of hiring you.
  2. In a company that fits your ideal customer profile.
  3. At a personal business address.

 

Once you’ve found the address you’re using, you’re going to want to list it on a nice spreadsheet so you can keep track. You can think of them as your hit list. You can think of yourself as the Eighth Air Force, and this is the list of targets you need to bomb.

 

Or you can just take that list and act like they’re a bunch of contacts you’ve got to email. It’s up to you.

 

If you’re wondering how many emails you need to send, I’d say you can’t come up short if you get a list of about seven billion prospects. The more the better. Remember: in world domination cold email, your business is to make everyone in the world bow down and worship you aware of your services.

 

So put it this way: make sure you’ve got enough prospects to be statistically significant. I can’t tell you what that means, because I’ve never taken a statistics class, but I can tell you it doesn’t mean making a list of ten people.

 

See what you can get done in an afternoon. It’s an iterative process, you know?

 

How to Make Contact

Anyways, so now that you’ve got your hit list all lined up, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to take care of them. You’ve got to imagine yourself as Lee Harvey Oswald just about to pull the trigger or Donald Trump with his finger on the big red button.

 

Or whatever works for you.

 

You’ve got to write up your letters, no matter how you think of it. Writing your letters is the fun part of the process because it’s where you make sure you can really jive with the people you’re selling your services to. You want to make sure you’re on the same page, and that you can get along with this person.

 

So that means you need to write a letter that does two things:

  1. Makes them curious about your offer.
  2. Makes them want to reach out to you.
  3. Compels them to open up their wallets and give you all their money.
  4. Drives them to tell all their friends and business acquaintances about your amazing service.

 

There are two ways of doing this: I like to call them the short letter and the long letter.

 

(Word to the wise: never write a medium-length letter. It’s bad form, it’s disgusting, and it’s outlawed by the Geneva Convention.)

 

Anyways, let’s get to fundamentals and execution, okay?

 

Tactics for the Short Letter

The short letter is very short. If your letter is longer than 100 words, you’re getting too long. You want to aim for something in the neighborhood of 30-50 words, full of punch.

 

You want to use simple sentences. Should you ask rhetorical questions? You should ask rhetorical questions.

 

Should you make sure the reader feels an overwhelming need to get back to you? You should make sure the reader feels an overwhelming need to get back to you.

 

How do you do that? Simple. You ask some questions that draw out your recipient’s imagination. He or she should feel compelled to wonder what your message is about.

 

What am I saying here? I’m saying you don’t spell out why you’re contacting them. You let them figure it out. You write something like:

 

Hi Jeremiah,

 

I really like your website, first off. You’ve got a great setup, and I think the product descriptions really let me know why I might consider the Acme Stretching Rack for all my inquisitorial needs. You don’t always see that kind of family-friendly atmosphere around dungeon equipment, you know?

 

Anyways, I was wondering if you could do me a favor. My name is Geofrey Crow, and I’m a writer with Crow Copywriting. Could you help me get in touch with someone who can talk to me about content marketing?

 

Thanks,

Geofrey

 

This is a little on the long side for a short letter, but you see the basic moves here. With the short letter, the whole point is to prompt a response from the reader.

 

You’ll especially want to look at the end. Now, we’ve already taken care to make sure the reader is likely to be our decision-maker, but we’re not approaching him or her in a salesy way. We’re just asking if they’ll help us get in touch with the decision-maker.

 

Another point you’ll want to notice is that we haven’t said we’re trying to sell anything. The reader can definitely figure it out from reading it, of course—never forget that your reader’s a smart person. But we haven’t said it, and that means we’re not pushy.

 

It also means the only people who will respond will be a self-selected bunch who is at least a little bit interested. And that means everything when it comes to our sales cycle.

 

Tactics for the Long Letter

Now, the long letter is like the short letter, except everything is different.

 

Instead of aiming for a start to the process, with a long letter you aim to make the whole sale all at once. That means you’ve got about a million things to do, and there’s no way I could possibly cover them in this little section. But I’ll try to give you the basics right here.

 

With the long letter, your goal is to create something that beats your prospect over the head with how wonderful and valuable your offer is that they feel compelled to capitulate and buy your offer.

 

It’s about making your offer so desirable and so low-risk that they won’t be able to contain their enthusiasm. It’s about strapping them to the hospital bed and pumping them with an IV full of so much value they beg to be allowed to buy your offer. It’s about demonstrating what you can do with such force and such strength that they can’t help but feel that they need to put your offer to work for them.

 

When you do this, you’ve got two main things you’re working on: 1) you want to generate buying desire, and 2) you want to lower the fear of purchasing.

 

Those are important, but there’s one thing you want to do above all else: you want to command your reader’s attention. You want to have your prospect wrapped around your finger. You want them breathlessly holding on to every single word you’ve written.

 

People are always talking about how hard it is to get attention these days, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. No wonder it’s hard for them to get attention when they’re writing the same boring old drivel that makes you want to throw up.

 

(And have you ever tried writing that awful stuff? It’s worse than driving silver needles through your hands.)

 

So when people talk about the attention economy, there’s nothing to worry about. The fact is, you don’t want the whole world to pay attention. You want your ideal customer to pay attention.

 

Because the really wonderful thing is when you’ve got that attention. When someone’s tuned in to your message just right. When it’s not just some message you dreamed up because some marketer told you it was a good idea, but it was actually your message.

 

When you can command attention like that, you can close the sale.

 

How to Close the Sale

Now, with the long email you’re working an entirely different cycle, so I’ll have to tell you something about that some other time. With the short email, your sales cycle begins as soon as you get a response.

 

Usually it’s going to be something lukewarm, like, “Well, we’re glad you contacted us. Maybe you could send us a portfolio and we can see if we’d work well together.”

 

That’s not a bad answer to get. It’s an answer you’re going to get a lot. In fact, it’s an answer you’re going to get so often that you’ll probably want to come up with a semi-standard response.

 

As you move through the sales cycle, you’ve got to define your goals. You need to map out an ideal email exchange. You’ll want to know things like:

 

  1. How are you going to take control of the exchange? (i.e., How are you going to frame your questions leading to the sale?)
  2. How are you going to ramp up your prospect’s desire for your offer?
  3. How are you going to lower the prospect’s buying resistance?
  4. How are you going to make the transition into closing?

 

So if your first goal is to take control of the exchange, you’re going to have to figure out why your prospect is going to want to buy your service in the first place. You want to go after some particular pain points, and you want to fasten on them.

 

Now, unless you’ve got a really perverse love of confrontation, you’re going to have to work yourself up in order to get this done. Because the fact is: everybody hates selling. It’s the reason the people who are good at it make so much.

 

Because let’s be honest: no matter how great the product or service you’re selling, there are moments when it’s going to feel manipulative. You’re going to feel slimy and weird, and you’re going to hate every minute of it.

 

You’ll wonder why I’m saying that in a guide to cold email selling. I’m telling you that because I’ve seen other people peddle a lot of doublethink about how “if you’re uncomfortable with selling, it must be because you don’t believe in your product.”

 

That’s a load of bunk, first off.

 

The best salesperson in the world didn’t love selling when they started out. But here’s the thing: with time, and effort, and a lot of practice, they got better at it. Eventually they got good enough at it that they started enjoying it.

 

It’s a little like learning to enjoy coffee, or beer, or chewing on rocks till your teeth grind away. Email selling might sound like an unbelievable nightmare right now, but with practice you’ll be able to do it. And once you start succeeding, it’s easier to continue succeeding.

 

Just remember: the beginning is the hardest part of any process. If you can make it through the beginning, you can make it through the rest of the process. It’s a matter of grit and determination.

 

Phone Calls and Skype Sessions

And speaking of grit and determination, it’s time to mention the only things worse than selling via email: selling via phone, Skype, or (horror of horrors!) face to face. We all know you started a business because you wanted to avoid human contact for the rest of your natural life. What’s with all these prospects who want to actually interact with you?

 

Well, I’ve got a simple solution to that: tell them you’re dead. You’ll never hear from them again after that.

 

Much as I hate to say it, you’re probably going to have to show your face to your customers at some point.

 

Now, I know this is like pulling teeth, but you might even want to suggest those meetings yourself. Granted, you’ll probably rather smash your head under a tractor trailer’s wheels, but it’s what you need to do.

 

If they’ve expressed some interest but they’re still not buying, there’s probably part of them that thinks you’re a slobbering caveman who’s trying to land them in a Nigerian prince scheme.

 

(Now, of course the fact that they think that about you makes you so angry that you want to get your hands around their throats and let them have it. But you just have to accept it. It’s what people think. Just fill your little voodoo doll full of needles and get over it.)

 

Just remember: everybody hates business meetings. The person on the other side of the Skype screen is dreading it just as much as you are.

 

So as long as you can remember that, it means you’re dreading it just a little less than them. And if you can dread it a little less, you can force yourself through the process to the sale. Remember: you’re responsible for everything, if you fail to make the sale it’s entirely your fault, and if you don’t manage to make sales your entire business will die horribly.

 

But no pressure though. Remember: confidence is key.

 

How to Make the Close

Making the close is a matter of following through with the momentum you’ve built up from your masterful treatment. You’ve worked yourself into all your customer’s pain points, you’ve met all their objections, and you’ve demonstrated the massive value of your product or service.

 

Things are going pretty well. That means you’re ready to close the sale. How do you do that?

 

For starters: you ask for it. You (as in you) have to ask the prospect (as in the prospect) to agree to the sale. There are plenty of ways to do that, so don’t worry.

 

Here’s the thing you have to remember: if you’re far enough along that you can make an ask without immediately getting shut down, you’re getting close. So ask early and ask often.

 

Remember: you have to do this. I know there’s a part of you that’s thinking, “Oh please for the love of God and all his angels, don’t make me do this! I’d rather die than do this!”

 

Every time that thought strikes you, I want you to imagine something: I want you to tell yourself that if you back off now you’ll be the sorriest, lousiest, most pathetic piece of trash that ever deserved to get shoveled off to pollute the Pacific Ocean.

 

It’s a matter of pride. You have to push yourself through the sequence.

 

Because in a way it’s not even about the sale. The sale is the dopamine rush at the end. The sale is the reward. But the sale isn’t really what it’s about, psychologically speaking.

 

What’s it about? It’s about being willing to push yourself through something you hate. It’s about facing that craven, cowardly, submissive part of your soul and doing all you can do to kill it. It’s about willingly putting yourself under the massive psychological pressure that goes into closing the sale.

 

In the end, selling isn’t about the sale. It isn’t even about the money.

 

It’s about self-respect.

 

Conclusion: Remember it’s an Iterative Process

I know you might be thinking this article turned out to be less of a how-to guide on cold selling than a pep talk on forcing yourself through it.

 

And you know what? You’re exactly right.

 

Because cold email selling isn’t complicated. I can let you know the basics, but the basics really aren’t the important thing. The important thing is committing to mastering the process and getting it done.

 

You’re going to send out a lot of emails before you master the process. You’re going to get told NO! more times than you’ll want to count before you master the process. You’re going to get told no more times than you’ll want to count even after you master the process.

 

The techniques are easy to describe, but they’re tough as nails to master. Mastering the process is a matter of forcing yourself through it, again and again and again.

 

You need to learn the selling process so well you can go through it in your sleep.

 

You need to kill that part of yourself that wants everybody to like you. The part that thinks it’s going to die if one person doesn’t approve of you.

 

You need to take your mind and turn it into a hammer with one purpose: to drive the value of your offer into your customer’s mind.

 

Remember: it’s a mental game, and winning the game is a matter of practice, persistence, and an absolute dedication to holding yourself to a high standard.

 

You can’t worry about things like seeming “salesy” or being “pushy.” When you go in to sell, you’re facing two possibilities: when you walk out of that room, either you’ve made the sale, or you’re going to be figuring out why they said no.

 

That means you have to force yourself through the whole process every time. You don’t have the option of leaving a customer alone after they say, “Maybe.”

 

Maybe means you haven’t sold them yet. Maybe means they haven’t said no yet. Maybe means you have to keep going, because you can’t allow yourself to take maybe for an answer.

 

Now go make sales. Let me know if you have any questions.

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What Makes Your Message Interesting?

 

What’s the secret to getting your message out?

 

Resonance.

 

When you’re trying to spread the word, should you worry about getting every part of your message tidy and correct?

 

Should you worry about making sure nobody’s feelings get hurt?

 

Should you worry about making sure everybody’s going to like your message?

 

In a word: fuck no!

 

So what do I mean by resonance? I mean your message has to grab hold of people on a gut level. You want your message to work its way into their minds to where they can’t just let it out.

 

That means you’ve got to be willing to take risks.

 

Seriously. Just go out there and look at the world. Is there anybody who’s managed to get their message heard without generating a massive backlash against them? Do you think the Kim Kardashians of the world are particularly concerned that the whole world gets taken in by their brain-dead idiot act?

 

No, of course they don’t. They just take advantage of the fact that the world believes the act, and they keep poking it every once in a while to keep it looking.

 

So what do they have?

 

Resonance. They’ve got the fearlessness to go out on a limb with something. They’ve got the creativity and the foresight to think several moves ahead. They’ve got the willingness to touch people’s emotions where it matters.

 

A lot of brands like to keep it cautious with their marketing. And who knows, maybe it will work for them. I’m not going to blame them for being backwards, and I’m not even going to say they’re stuck in an outdated 1950s way of marketing.

 

But the Mad Men days are over, and they’re not coming back. So tell me: what’s the future going to look like?

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