This is one of my favorite stories about marketing, but I don’t think I’ve shared it with you in this space.
Several years ago I worked with a client named Carole. She and her partner, Sue, had developed a training business based on using theater and improv games to teach teamwork and communication skills in companies.
It was new stuff, very interactive and quite effective. Carole had previously been an HR director in a San Francisco corporation and many of her prospective clients were HR directors in other San Francisco companies.
We put together a complete package of marketing materials and Carole had no problem contacting these prospects and setting up meetings to tell them about her services.
She received a very warm reception and most were quite interested in what she had to offer.
A few weeks after contacting several prospects this way, Carol called me and said, “Robert, I’m getting a lot of interest from these prospects but nobody is getting back to me and giving me any work. What should I do?”
In our meeting I gave the advice that catapulted her business to success. I simply said:
“Carole, what you’re offering is different and it’s hard for these HR directors to communicate the value to their managers. What I’d recommend is calling all your prospects back and tell them you’d like to come in and give them a free introductory demonstration of your training.”
She got on the phone immediately and started to book several intro trainings. And then the results started pouring in. Every single company where she gave an intro ultimately bought her services. And her company went on to great success.
You can do the same. You can make an offer to your prospective clients to have a taste, an experience of your services. And this is especially important if your services are unique and different.
You don’t necessarily need to offer an intro training, but you do need to offer something that will move your prospects from interest in your services to a commitment to working with you.
Sometimes it will just be a one-one-meeting with you. It might be a sample training or workshop, or it could be an interactive demonstration of how your service produces results.
But whatever the form is, you need to make an offer for this experience that is hard to refuse because it sounds so valuable.
Here are some important criteria for such an offer:
Offer must be made to the right person/company. It’s a waste of time meeting with someone who cannot ultimately buy your services.
Offer must be appropriate to your prospects. This really depends on your service and your clients. What will work for one company may not work for another.
Offer must be simple and clear. Don’t give in to the urge to create a 100 slide PowerPoint. You want to get a few key ideas across powerfully.
Offer must be convenient to take advantage of. It might be a meeting or presentation in your prospect’s office, but probably not in a redwood grove at the top of a mountain (like where I live).
Offer must not take too much of the prospect’s time. A prospect will be more likely take advantage of an offer that takes an hour or two, not day or two.
Offer must be seen as valuable in and of itself. Ultimately your offer is a form of a selling conversation, but it should strive to educate and inform in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking.
Offer must address either a pain or an aspiration. Your prospects are trying to solve a problem or reach an objective, so make sure your offer addresses those directly.
Offer must lead to more clarity. At the end of your conversation or meeting, the prospect should have a very good idea of what you can do and how you can help them.
Offer must build the confidence of your prospect. Your presentation may be unorthodox, but it shouldn’t be obscure or confusing.
Offer must have a name – e.g.. “Marketing Strategy Session.” Don’t just say, “Let’s get together and talk.” No, make this something more special and tangible.
Offer must be delivered professionally. Be on time and have your materials together. But real success comes from several rehearsals. Lack of preparation is a deal killer.
Offer must persuade the prospect to take action. Ultimately, at the end of your meeting or presentation you should be clear what you want to happen next and be prepared to ask the prospect to take the next step.
Planing to roll-out your offer
When Carole presented her offer to give an intro training to her prospects, she followed all of these criteria. She went in prepared to deliver an intro that would excite and interest her audience.
Her HR prospects knew what to expect and invited several company managers to attend.
Carole tied the theatre games and improv exercises to real company issues and demonstrated the difference they could make while making learning fun.
After the intros she followed up and sent proposals, which ultimately led to her being booked by several companies.
Where do you start with this?
You need to ask what you could offer that would make a powerful impact and impression and then orient your marketing activities to setting up these meetings/intros/samples/demos.
This is often THE missing step in the marketing process.
We may connect with a number of people who could get value from our service; we provide them with information and talk to them about our services but wonder why nothing happens.
But we fail to give them an EXPERIENCE of what we do.
I’ve succeeded in filling my Marketing Mastery program for several years by simply offering a complimentary webinar that gives people a taste of what it would be like to be in the program. I even held a video conference session with past clients sharing the results they got.
What experience will you offer to your prospects? If you follow the above criteria, you can expect the kind of success Carole and many others have seen.
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