I don’t answer my phone at the office anymore unless I know the caller.
A lot of my email goes in the trash unread.
I don’t even listen to my voicemails.
I can’t possibly read everything I need to read.
Does this sound like your customers and prospects? Let’s face it; many decision-makers are overwhelmed with demands, sales calls, interruptions, and urgent tasks. This is especially true with the ever-increasing number of channels contributing to information overload. The jaunty concept of the information superhighway is not only antiquated but also out of sync with where we are today; standing in the middle of a field in an intense information hailstorm, with little chance of respite or shelter.
Much as you may empathize with everyone who wants to shut down all the noise, you have urgent needs of your own.
There are customers and prospects to reach, new products to launch and messages and a brand to promote. How can you reach your particular “unreachable people” who have resorted to avoiding unwanted messaging? How do you compete in this crazy environment?
Use multiple channels. We know that people are still reading, viewing and listening to some information – they are just skipping lots more. What exactly any one person is taking in varies, of course, although there are clear trends among specific groups. By employing, let’s say, social media, content marketing, press visibility, select advertising, trade show and conference presence and engagement, and maybe even the surprise of a print (gasp) newsletter, you will get through with some percentage of your efforts.
Be useful more than you are promotional. Remember, in an ideal world, your offerings solve a problem your prospect has. Give a little, in terms of information, advice or value, and you will enjoy better reception than you would otherwise receive.
Remember that no matter how busy your prospects and influentials are, they take time out for social media or content that they think constitutes a bit of a break from their primary pursuits. Since the new equivalent of water cooler socializing and coffee breaks is reading an article on LinkedIn, checking Facebook or reading a blog, be a lively and interesting participant online. Do communicate, on occasion, about something other than your own company and its products or services. Engage in give-and-take discussions about trends, industry activities, customer accomplishments, and more. People enjoy engaging a lot more than they enjoy being sold to.
Make it a better world. Guide your company to develop or express social responsibility. Become involved in cause marketing. Sponsor important events. Mentor youth. Create truly green products. Save the environment. Whatever you do, do something valuable – and in the process, reach unreachable people.
Don’t waffle. How many companies start a project (and marketing outreach is as valid an example as any other) and then don’t fulfill, change course, lose faith, or make crippling budget cuts? After three decades in the business, the vSA team can assure you that the most successful marketers are continuous, consistent marketers who don’t try to grow chiefly by cutting costs.
Put in your 10,000 hours. Author Malcolm Gladwell estimates that the world’s best (at anything) enjoyed not only talent and good fortune but also put in an estimated 10,000 hours of effort before becoming so-called overnight successes. Whatever that true effort-hours number may be, a solid commitment contributes to the difference between mediocre and great results.
In short, it is indeed difficult to reach “unreachable” prospects and customers, but it must be done if you plan to maximize sales and business success. Make sure your message is meaningful, your methods multiple, your purpose at least in part noble, and your activity and motivation unflagging.
By doing ALL these things, you are likely to outperform many of your competitors not only in your reach but in meeting key, quantifiable business objectives as well.
Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Contact Michelle at email@example.com. She will try to be reachable.