As I type this, Buddy is putting the final touches on the 5 remaining outreach boxes that we plan to ship out today. Packed with bright-orange filler paper, a Starbucks gift card, and our hopes and dreams, with any luck these boxes will find their intended recipients and the magic will ensue.
Let me back up.
It was sometime last December. SUM was doing well, but we were hungry for new projects and opportunities. The problem was, in the world of integrated marketing, it’s hard to just drum up business…I guess that’s hard at any company. Either way, we wanted to expand and were looking for a way to do so. Having been on the receiving end of many-a-cold call, we knew we weren’t going to help our case by picking up the phone and randomly calling companies we felt we could help. The question became: How do you meaningfully engage people in an age full of attention grabs and hyperbole? We began thinking about ways to differentiate our message and at least give what we had to say a shot of being heard.
The answer (at least what we determined to be the answer) was two-fold: Uniqueness and bribery. We felt that to get people’s attention, we would definitely have to stand out from other outreach messages they might have received in the past. Then we would have to somehow entice them to continue paying attention if we were to have a shot of consideration. We decided that hand-delivering some sort of package containing a hand-written note, messaging about SUM, and a Starbucks gift card stood a good chance of not landing in the trash. At least the recipient would give us a couple seconds of their time in exchange for a cup of coffee…right?
We gathered all of the materials and started putting together the boxes. We printed up labels for the outside, hoping to neutralize any bomb-related thoughts that our recipients might have had upon receiving the mysterious package.
We identified companies in the Seattle area that we felt we could truly help and wrote personalized notes introducing SUM and acknowledging the accompanying Starbucks card and company info. We finished putting together all the boxes and prepared for our date with destiny.
A few weeks ago we set out across Seattle to hand-deliver our packages. Having put considerable time into planning a route and plan of attack, we managed to deliver 15 out of our 20 boxes in only a few hours. The 5 packages we couldn’t deliver were due to outdated address information online or no one being at the office to accept our delivery.
After that, we waited.
That brings us to today. To avoid being met by empty offices a second time, we decided to ship our remaining boxes to our target companies via USPS. Once those 5 boxes are out the door, our mission will be complete. In the few weeks since delivering our first set of boxes, we’ve had several responses from interested parties and have subsequently held a few meetings to discuss areas in which SUM could help. We were excited by the responses we got, despite the fact that we truly were cold-calling these companies.
The lesson? With a little bit of creativity, reaching out to potential clients doesn’t have to be a nasty or annoying business. Striking a friendly tone and giving the party you desire to engage a reason to pay attention can go a long way. Did we still get rejected? Sure. Did we hear back from everyone? No. But we did create some interest in our company without (hopefully) appearing sleazy and tarnishing our brand.
Have you had any similar experience, either being on the giving or receiving end of a cold call? Let us know in the comments!
Note from all of us: Many thanks to the companies that gave us the time of day and responded to our solicitation. We really appreciate you giving us a shot and we wish you continued success!