In How to Get a Meeting with Anyone (Top Sales World Book of the Week, 2-29-2016), I just introduced the concept of Contact Marketing. But what is it and how can it help you crush your sales numbers?
I should explain that I’m not a sales trainer or expert. But I am a business owner—and one of The Wall Street Journal cartoonists and an award-winning marketer. And that I have been using my cartoons my entire career to break through to people I should never have been able to reach. The cartoons work so well in that mission that I’ve been able to connect with presidents, a prime minister, celebrities and countless CEOs, C-level executives and top decision makers.
In my research for the book, I discovered Contact Marketing has been in use for a long time. Salespeople, business owners, entrepreneurs have been devising very clever—even audacious—methods for connecting with people of great importance who are nearly impossible to reach.
Guerrilla Selling author Orvel Ray Wilson tells the story of a sales rep who used a homing pigeon to set a lunch date with one of the most famous CEOs in the world. The waiter got his tip, but the rep walked away with a $250K sales contract. Edgy Conversations author and turnaround specialist Dan Waldschmidt uses a sword to connect with CEOs of distressed companies with a nearly 100% penetration rate. And I have seen my own cartoon-based campaigns generate response rates as high as 100%.
As I interviewed many of the world’s top sales thought leaders, asking what methods they have employed to break through to their most important sales contacts, they shared not only their techniques, but an entire world of marketing that supports the sales function directly and produces results long thought impossible. I found people employing these amazing techniques, yet nobody had a name for what they were doing. I’ve called it Contact Marketing in the book.
So what exactly is Contact Marketing? It’s a fusion of marketing and selling, employing specific campaigns to support connecting with specific VIP prospects. It is a sniper strategy meant to help you quickly make critical, personal connections with the handful of people who can immediately transform the scale of your career or company. But like any good sniper strategy, it’s not meant to replace the artillery of your funnel, CRM and other aspects of your present marketing. It simply adds a powerful new weapon to your arsenal.
And what an arsenal this is. In the book, I detailed twenty categories of Contact Marketing campaigns. I’ve since discovered four more and for all I know, there could be hundreds.
These include various uses of gifts (art, humor, film, half gifts, re-gifts and visual metaphors), information and insight, media presence, video, events, triggers and of course, social media, email, phones and mail. And then there are some techniques that are so outrageous, I simply lumped them into the “Over-the-Top” category.
Together, these have been producing response rates as high as 100%, with ROI figures in the tens, even hundreds of thousands of percent, all at a cost per contact ranging from $0 to $10,000. Consider the following examples…
Contact Letter in The Wall Street Journal
The owner of a tech start-up who approached his ad man, Rick Bennett, looking for a way to connect with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. He knew that if he was able to explain his company, Ellison would want to acquire it. But he had no idea how to break through. Bennett’s solution was to produce a contact letter as a full-page ad and run it in The Wall Street Journal. The ad placement alone cost $10,000, but it was well worth it. Not only did Ellison spot the letter, but many of his friends and colleagues did, too, causing them to call all day long, asking if he’d seen it. The end result was contact and an acquisition worth millions.
NoWait App’s iPad Video Campaign
The NoWait app turns restaurant patrons’ smartphones into “your table is ready” buzzer pucks. In their bid to get top restaurant chains to quickly adopt their app, NoWait assembled a brilliant Contact Campaign. They targeted the restaurateur CEOs with an iPad delivered in special packaging, sent with a set of simple instructions: 1) Turn on the iPad. 2) Tap the video icon. That launched a personalized video showing the scene as their spokesman entered the restaurant wearing a secret lapel cam. They recorded the scene as they made their way to the host podium and were told there was an hour wait for a table. Then they talked to the other patrons waiting in the reception area, getting plenty of footage of complaints about the wait. The video then explained the NoWait value proposition, and finally, the NoWait CEO himself appeared on camera, addressing the recipient CEO by name. “I love eating at your restaurants, but I hate waiting for a table. But I have a solution I want to look at.” After targeting just thirty CEOs, the company now counts many of them as clients.
I didn’t invent Contact Marketing. I’m just the guy who was lucky enough to write the book and give it a name. Do you have your own Contact Marketing story? Please share below!