This morning I did the unthinkable. My phone rang. I didn't recognize the number... and I picked up. I know. I'm not proud.
It was a cold call from a realtor. She was clear in her request and sufficiently pleasant but completely generic. As a result, I was as polite as possible as I found the nearest exit to the conversation.
To start, she mispronounced my name. This is an almost unrecoverable error. Now, it's not that I mind that people frequently stumble over the pronunciation of cama-ROTE (no Y sound at the end). It's not totally obvious but it is an easy filter to apply in these situations. One, by the way, that I'm anxious to use because it's a benefit I never had as a Smith.
Anyway, then her script progressed with no relevant research done (average home prices are up!), connections made possible (I know a great kitchen remodeler!), or successes demonstrated (I just sold something down the street for over asking price!) or even any neighborhood gossip (guess who's getting a divorce?!) Ok, maybe that'd be inappropriate but at least it's interesting.
In the absence of anything specifically relevant to our situation, I didn't see the need to prolong the conversation. However, I might have stayed on if she'd taken a bit more time upfront to saturate her message with a bit more color.
From time to time, we're all in the position of starting a conversation with a decision-maker, prospective partner or client, or the public. How do you build in tidbits that hold someone's attention and make them want to follow up?
Here's my take...
- Know how the organization/individual refers to themselves. For example, don't call a Bureau of Indian Affairs staffer and say BIA. They're IA, thankyouverymuch. This is relatively easy to find out by checking their website, any memos they've published externally, messaging a linkedin connection who had a meeting there once, or checking media coverage (not foolproof but better than nothing.)
- Offer specific, relevant research. Cloud contract changes, alignment of new House members to the Appropriations Committee, former agency leaders indicted, etc. Combine this with at least one other data point-- check out a recent post on Triangulation to see what I mean.
- Share examples of how your program or offering applies. Mention a relationship with a similar or complementary organization or reference comparable work completed at some place totally different. People tend to be pretty interested in hearing the skinny on what others are doing-- either to make themselves feel good "at least we're not Mississippi" or add some heat under a slow simmering project "they're beating us!" Either way, insights help them build their own case. Use 'em!
Murray Newlands writing for Inc. has some great, practical tips for email marketing here that can be extrapolated out for all kinds of communications.
Saturating your messaging with these three key attributes may not work with everyone but it'll certainly resonate more than your watered down pitch. Good luck!