My friend Gaye Hardiman, who's great at sales, shared the secret of her success with me - when you make a cold call you are essentially asking that person for permission to express interest in them. It's a refreshing approach to marketing as we find ourselves in an economy that requires entrepreneurs of all stripes to "get out there and sell".
Here at Palette, Martin and I have turned up the volume on our networking, pitching and new business development. For the most part, this means re-connecting with friends and acquaintances across the city, becoming more involved in professional organizations and participating in RFPs. But we have also identified potential clients, contacted them personally and, in some cases , enjoyed face-to-face meetings. Many are not ready to commit to new services but a connection has been made and could reap rewards in the future. At the very least, we've expanded our network by one.
As the owner of a PR firm, I've noticed that, I too am receiving more pitches from service providers (e.g. photographers, event venues, financial services firms). I have no problem with this and completely understand the need to sell your wares in this economy. A precious few call and ask permission to send more info by e-mail but most don't bother. Rather, they include me on a bcc list and send a blanket e-mail marketing their services. What's really disappointing is that the majority of them are located in Toronto and could benefit from taking the time to start a relationship.
Like many small businesses, we're holding off on incurring new expenses as we wait to see what will happen with the economy. But we will be looking for partners and suppliers in the future and when we do, I'll be getting in touch with the ones who understood the power of permission.
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