Does it seem like you spend much of your marketing time sending out messages that never get received? You call a prospective client to follow up on an email or letter you sent, and they say they never got it. You leave someone a voice mail message you’re sure will get their attention, but they never call you back. You publish a special offer in your ezine, print newsletter, or postcard mailing, and a tiny fraction of your prospect list responds. What’s a marketer to do?
First, it can help to recognize that some of your messages are not reaching their destination in the first place. Email, in particular, is routinely lost in transmission or blocked by filters. Just because you sent an email and it didn’t bounce back to you doesn’t mean the people you sent it to ever got it.
Your email may be sitting in the bulk mail folder they never check, their ISP may have blocked it, their mail server (or yours) may have been on the blink that day, or a computer crash could have wiped it out. You may have typed their email address incorrectly, it may have changed, or they may have given you the wrong address. When prospects reply by email, their messages to you can get lost, too, for all the same reasons.
Leaving a voice mail message is not necessarily any more reliable. Busy professionals often receive many more voice mails than they can respond to, even if they want to. They may delete messages without listening to them, or let them pile up until they expire. If you’re calling a cell phone, recognize that some people never listen to their cell phone’s voice mail messages at all; instead they call back only the numbers they recognize.
With ezines, print newsletters, and postcard mailings, even if they reach their destination, there is no guarantee they’ll be read. Most people just don’t have the time to read all the mail they get, and your marketing mail may be their lowest priority. Your mail may be screened out by a gatekeeper or put into a bottomless “reading pile.”
Or perhaps your prospects really mean to take action on your offer, but then it winds up in their equally bottomless “to-do” pile and you never hear from them.
These are the realities of marketing in a world filled with busy people already overloaded with communications. But don’t despair — here are five ways to increase your chances of getting your message across.
- Never assume that a prospect received, saw, or heard your marketing message. When prospects don’t respond, instead of feeling rejected or wondering what you did wrong, it’s much more productive to ask yourself, “What should I try next?” Don’t let your self-doubt get the best of you. A prospect’s lack of response has no meaning unless you give it one. There’s no way for you to know why you didn’t get a reply; it may have nothing to do with you at all.
- Deliver every message on multiple channels, and follow up at regular intervals. You’ll always have a better chance of reaching your prospects if you use more than one delivery method. Follow up an email with a phone call, send an email to follow up on a letter, mail postcards to people on your ezine list. Reach out to every potential client at least five times before you consider dropping them from your prospect list. And don’t let too much time go by in between attempts. Three times within 30 days is a good rule of thumb, and then every 30 days after that.
- Don’t ask, “did you get my message?” Instead, deliver it again. Remember rule #1 — they may have never gotten the earlier messages, so you need to repeat your offer every time you contact them. Even if they did get your message, reminding prospects of your offer will reinforce it and help them to remember you. When speaking with someone live, a much better query is, “what questions can I answer for you?”
- Make sure your reception channels are open, too. Your outgoing voice mail message or email autoreply should welcome inquiries, not put people off by telling them you’re too busy to return calls or emails promptly. Check your bulk mail folder regularly to make sure you’re not missing emails from prospects. Avoid using mail filters that require senders to jump through an authorization hoop in order to send you email.
- When a message works, figure out why and repeat your success. Rather than trying to determine why people aren’t responding, notice what seems to make the difference when they do. Ask every prospect how they heard about you, what made them contact you, or what element of your offer got their attention. Notice any patterns — did a postcard make the phone ring, have they been subscribing to your newsletter for months, was it something you said in your voice mail — and see if you can do more of whatever is working.
Finally, keep in mind that your message is always more likely to be delivered when the recipient already knows you. Prospects who recognize your name are significantly more likely to read your mail, take your calls, and open your newsletter. Making personal connections through networking and referrals, and building your visibility through public speaking and publishing articles, can make prospects receptive to email and phone calls. Calling and mailing cold, with no prior connection, always makes it harder to get through.
Marketing messages that never reach your prospects are one more reason it’s critical for your success to tell people what you can do for them over and over, instead of expecting a single communication to do the trick. In all your marketing efforts, plan from the outset to reach out to each prospect multiple times, using more than one method. It’s safer, and ultimately more productive, to assume that — until and unless your prospect responds — your marketing message didn’t get through.