Have you ever noticed, when walking into most office buildings, a sign that says "No Solicitors"? As a life-long cold caller of office buildings and industrial parks, I can tell you that any sales person worth their salt walks past this sign like it says "Come On In, Old Friend." Why? Because timid salespeople have skinny kids.
Sales and Marketing is all about meeting strangers and turning them into friends and paying customers. In our CMS section I talk about internet marketing "fads" and here I want to tell you about the fad of "inbound marketing" as an alternative to what we would I guess call "outbound marketing" - or every other kind of marketing you've ever done!
In 2016, the internet is a very crowded place indeed - a totally different landscape from when we started in 1999. If you just put up a web site, good luck. If you have an extremely obscure niche and very little competition, maybe you'll get some traffic. But we have seen many, many web sites die a lonely death when guided by the "build it and they will come" approach.
One of the most effective ways to achieve the last step, maximizing conversion, is inbound marketing -- but that leaves a lot of work to be done to ensure a steady stream of prospects. LinkedIn, internet research, list purchasing and traditional prospecting have never been more rich and interesting. Trade shows have great technology for scanning badges of leads. CRMs give us the ability to database everyone we've ever met. But what is the "glue" that holds it all together?
There, I said it. Of course we all hate whatever you call it: SPAM, junk mail, e-mail newsletters, bulk mail, marketing e-mails, blah blah blah. But let's face it, would you rather receive a phone call? Would you rather a cheesy salesman walked into your office? Would you rather chop down some trees to make a few gazillion postcards?
The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
It is important to look at this the same way we look at other laws, such as speed limits. The "tough penalties" are not there to bankrupt Jimmy's hot dog stand or even the local ambulance chasing attorney. They are there to put malicious individuals and criminal syndicates in jail.
We fully embrace the guidelines spelled out by the Act such as putting clear contact information and an easy "unsubscribe feature" in every message. With our own messages we include a cell phone number that goes directly to a real person, so that if for some reason the unsubscribe feature does not work, we can be personally reached to help a recipient get off our list.
If you're waiting for people to give you permission to send them e-mail, you may want to consider getting a second job. 99.9% of marketing in this world is marketing to people that do not want to be marketed to. The other .1% are Victoria's Secret commercials and Superbowl ads. Constant Contact and other such providers are paranoid about their own long-term ability to get their mail into inboxes, so they have perpetuated this idea of only sending blasts to people who have given you permission. Compare that with the fact that we know 66% to 74% of all global e-mail traffic is bulk e-mail.
But how, in this system, do you market to new customers -- the people who don't already know you exist, and thus can't give you permission to receive your e-mail? The truth is that you can't. In order to reach those valuable new customers, you have to recognize that the double opt-in trend is a myth. Don't let the malicious animals who try to scam people and install viruses and adware confuse you about the legitimacy of e-mail marketing. If everyone was required to double opt-in to postal mailings -- which would save a lot of trees and a lot of paper -- the USPS would go bankrupt overnight. E-mail marketing is no different, except it's better for the environment!