I bet you hate to make cold calls. Thankfully, over the last ten years or more, you didn’t need to cold call, market, or sell much to win your share of contracts or profitable work. The phone just kept ringing and you stayed busy. You also like it when potential customers call you with jobs to bid or propose on. This ‘old school’ marketing plan of letting your reputation speak for itself and waiting for referrals to grow your business used to work. Now it doesn’t.
In today’s tough work environment, that old school marketing plan doesn’t work. So in the new normal of less work and more competition, you need to make outbound sales calls and implement a marketing system to keep your pipeline full of potential projects to bid. The following is my simple marketing system that doesn’t require cold calls. Instead, it’s more like a form of that Chinese water torture you saw in the old movies — Drip! Drip! Drip! I call it: ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy or Die!’
‘Bug ‘Em Til The Buy Or Die’ marketing system:
1. Create Awareness Of Your Company
2. Pique Potential Customer’s Interest
3. Stay at Top of Customer’s Mind
4. Generate Inquiry
5. Get Belly To Belly / Face To Face
6. Convert a Bid or Proposal Into a Contract
7. Develop Customer Relationships
8. Get Referrals
The 8 step ‘Bug ‘Em ‘Til They Buy Or Die’ marketing system is designed to move the prospective customer through all eight marketing steps without a single cold call. The goal of this system is to get potential customers TO CALL YOU versus you calling them.
The ‘Bug ‘Em’ system builds an AWARENESS of your company and what you can DO for customers over a period of time. Drip! Awareness is based upon the ‘Rule of Seven.’
The Rule Of Seven
You must have at least seven contacts with a potential customer before they:
– Remember YOUR NAME
– Feel they KNOW YOU
– TRUST you
– Will TAKE ANY ACTION towards you
To grow both our construction and speaking businesses, we use the trusted U.S. postal service to make potential customers AWARE of us. Drip! We mail something to everyone on our mailing list at least 4 times per year. Drip! Drip! Once is not enough and we don’t just mail any old boring piece of mail. We send creative, different, unique, fun, factual, caring, and informative articles, photos, postcards, white papers, mini-brochures, checklists, and guides. We use a professional design firm to keep our image consistent. Orange and blue are our colors. Everyone recognizes our orange hardhat or our blueprint background on every piece of mail we send out. Drip! Drip! Drip! Now you’re creating and building AWARENESS. Everything you send out must do one of three things:
– Pique customer INTEREST
– Create a Perception of VALUE
– Reinforce customer RELATIONSHIP
To pique customer INTEREST, you must send out something different, crazy, funny, eye catching, bold or unique. You want to stand out from the crowd and make a statement. Try to be clever, creative, and fun enough to create the ‘WOW!’ factor. Never send those same old throw-away pens, ball caps, and notepads like everyone else. If you send out cheap stuff or tacky give-aways, your potential customers will think you’re cheap, have low standards, and not financially strong enough to handle their work. Send professionally created materials that consistently reflect your image. Quality counts.
Match your mail-outs to your customer targets. We use a newsletter that looks like a blueprint for our construction customers. But to attract bank investors we use traditional white stationary with blue ink. On a mailing to lawyers we sent out messages on legal pads and when we mail to meeting planners, we use a theme based on helping them make THEIR meeting a success. To attract investors for real estate development projects, we send out aerial photos of the neighborhood along with pictures and renderings packaged in typical real estate folders. Potential customers respond to the familiar.
To peak their INTEREST we also rotate mailing out cartoons, jokes, small hardhats, mini CDs or DVDs, estimating grid notepads, paper clip holders, coffee cups with hammer handles, business card holders, post-it notes, golf tees, golf ball markers, and American flags on the 4th of July! Once we mailed envelopes full of nails with the banner: “When can we nail down your next job?”! Last year I sent postcards from Maui, Hawaii with the note: “Thanks to my loyal customers for sending me skiing. I appreciate your business!” The best things to mail are items that pack flat, play big, and will not be thrown away. Don’t forget to put your name and logo on all of your ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die’ mail.
Only send what your customer:
1. Will READ
2. Needs TO KNOW
4. WILL KEEP
Remember your goal is not only to create INTEREST, but to create the right kind of interest in YOU. Be sure that your mail creates the right perception of VALUE about your company ans how it does business. You have to tell your potential customers what you want THEM to REMEMBER ABOUT YOU. Don’t assume customers know what you know about you. To show potential customer targets we were more than a small “local” company, we sent out maps indicating our project locations covering a 100-mile radius. To show we were qualified in a new business market, we sent out photos and resumes of key managers with years of experience in this “new for us” area. To create the perception of fast service, we mailed out “On-Time Schedulers” and photos of projects with the headline: “Another Successful Fast-Track Project”. Decide what perception of VALUE you want to present to your customers and tell them about it – OVER & OVER & OVER!
At our company, we want to be known as problem solvers. To create this perception of VALUE, we mail photos completing tight schedules or overcoming tough logistics. We mail customized postcards of completed projects listing out extra services and benefits the customer received such as personal service, quality control, or value added cost savings. We mail product literature that’s new and interesting to keep them informed, and reinforce our cutting edge technical capabilities. We mail tips, “how-to” checklists, and cost estimating guides to help customers and increase our value to them.
To create INTEREST, potential customers must know that you DELIVER RESULTS. Your ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die’ mail should often show people delivering results. Remember:
CUSTOMERS DON’T CARE about:
– What You DO
– What You HAVE
– What You’ve DONE
This is HUGE
Customers ONLY CARE about THEMSELVES
& What YOU’LL DO FOR THEM
Tell Them What You’ll Do!
Save the reference lists, resumes of your employees, and photos of your greatest accomplishments for your corporate brochure and face to face meetings. That stuff is all about what you’ve done. Future customers want to know what you’ll DO for THEM. This puts you at the TOP of their MIND.
Use ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die’ mail to show potential customers how YOU:
– HELPED your customers
– SOLVED your Customer’s PROBLEMS
– Met CUSTOMER’S GOALS
– PROVIDED SOLUTIONS
– Gave Customers what THEY WANTED
Come up with a slogan or motto that tells the targeted customer what you’ll do for them. We use “Our Goal Is To Make Your Project A Success!” Keep your message and marketing motto consistent and simple. Put your customer-focused slogan on every piece of mail you send out. This will keep your company at the TOP OF MIND.
People Care About People.
Show them your care about them, their business, and their lives. To REINFORCE Customer RELATIONSHIPS use a personal approach with your ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die’ mail. Send them article reprints which are directed at improving their company on topics like: leadership, management, staff retention, customer loyalty, and how to make more profit. We also mail announcements of contracts, people, promotions, and accomplishments to show working relationships between loyal customers and our talented staff. Send photos of your people working with customers on-site solving problems together. This type of mail shows your care about them and want to help improve their business.
Also use your ‘Bug “Em’ mail to show your company involvement in charity programs, children’s sports groups, church outreach, or industry leadership. Involvement in the community is part of what you do for them. This will create INTEREST and reinforce the perception that you will alos care for them as your customer.
Customer Awareness Is Easy & Cheap!
Building AWARENESS, creating INTEREST, and putting you and your company at the TOP of MIND of your future customers is a long Drip! slow Drip! process Drip! which requires constant Drip! action Drip! over Drip! time. To get started, the ‘Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die’ system takes a minimum of a one to two year commitment to be effective. Marketing is a Drip! Drip! Drip! process. It’s NEVER a one-time event. I’ve sent mail out every 3 months since 1984. I’ve never stopped because it works! I always get lots of customer calls after every mailing. THEY CALL ME!
And it’s affordable! We typically mail out to 1,000 to 2,000 customers, potential customers, and referral parties four times per year. The average cost (including postage) is $1.00 to $2.00 for each piece we mail. Drip! Drip! Our annual Bug budget for 6 mailings runs from $6,000 to $12,000 per year. Drip! Worth every penny. Times 10!
We use a database contact software program to keep track of targeted customers and our marketing system. With the software, we can sort by address, industry, customer type, or any other criteria we want to use. You can also create personalized form letters to mail. It only takes a few minutes to print 1,000 mailing labels! Easy.
We dedicate 4 hours every month to our Bug mailing program. On alternating months we plan or produce the marketing materials. We constantly look for great ideas, helpful articles, perfect mailing pieces, and photo opportunities. To remain consistent and look professional, we’ve used the same professional design firm for over 20 years. But, you can hire local marketing or graphic design students from local colleges or universities to help you get started. Call your local college to locate eager graphics and marketing students.
After we select and design our mail, the task of creating it in-house, using an outside promotional products vendor or getting it to the printer is easy. When we’re ready to mail, we hire temporary help to print the labels, assemble the packages and stuff the envelopes. Done.
Any Plan is Better Than A Perfect Plan Never Executed!
The key to Bug ‘Em Til They Buy Or Die Mail is to do it! Every 3 months! Rain or Shine! Build AWARENESS. Create INTEREST. Put you and your business at the TOP OF MIND of your future customers. You will get the INQUIRY. You’ll be BELLY TO BELLY. Your proposal will get you a LOYAL customer. You’ll have a lifetime of REFERRALS. Future customers will call you. Do it. Get Started. What are you waiting for? Start now and BUG “EM TIL THEY BUY OR DIE!