By Ed Gandia
Ever been in this situation?
You craft a direct mail campaign with an information product offer. Maybe it’s a white paper you wrote on a topic related to your area of specialty.
You mail 200 letters and receive 7 downloads. You’re excited!
But when you follow up with these respondents, you keep getting voicemail.
You try again a few days later. Then again the week after that. You keep ending up in voicemail purgatory.
Do these people ever return calls? What’s a freelancer to do?
Don’t despair. We all go through this process. Even when your offer is unique, attractive and highly targeted, there’s not much you can do to avoid the dreaded voicemail.
But what you can do is understand how to work with this medium to ensure that you get the most value from your effort.
Here are some suggestions:
Come to Grips with Today’s Corporate Reality
More than ever before, top executives are under incredible pressure to cut costs, improve profitability and grow market share.
As a result, marketers are working longer hours than ever before. Many are doing the work of 2 or 3 people!
With the increased workload come more meetings. More email messages. More calls.
And when marketers are at their desks (which is happening less frequently), they let most of their calls roll to voicemail.
But here’s the thing: Most voicemail messages go unreturned-not just yours. So don’t feel like you’re being singled out.
When I started calling on marketing managers 4 years ago, I was getting voicemail about 80 percent of the time. Today, it’s closer to 90 percent.
That’s the current reality. Accept it.
Remember What They Responded to
If you’re following up with respondents who downloaded your white paper, you also need to keep in mind what your prospects responded to: your offer.
Not you. Not your services.
Direct mail is a very effective prospecting vehicle. But the downside to direct mail is that most respondents will not have an immediate need for your services.
By responding, all they’re doing is “raising their hands.” They’re indicating an interest in the topic of your information offer. Maybe even your abilities as a freelance professional.
But don’t hold your breath. Their response doesn’t mean they’re going to hire you today. It’s not even a guarantee that you’ll land a future client.
So instead of launching into a sales pitch when they do answer the phone, briefly introduce yourself. Reference the offer they downloaded. And ask them if they use freelance white paper writers from time to time.
Try to strike up a conversation based on their needs and the value you bring to the table.
But if the prospect is unwilling to open up to you, that’s OK. Your goal is merely to plant a seed. Ask them when you should try calling back. And then make it a point to follow up on a regular but unobtrusive basis.
You’ve made contact. Pat yourself on the back and move on.
Always Leave a Message
You’re going to get voicemail 80 to 90 percent of the time. There’s not much you can do to improve that. So instead of hanging up when you land in voicemail, take advantage of the opportunity and leave a brief, value-oriented message.
Think of it as a 20-second opportunity to deliver a value proposition without being interrupted. It’s your (brief) chance to shine!
Overworked marketers make decisions about a message within seconds—just as they do with a letter, ad or any other marketing vehicle. So make it powerful. And get to the point right away.
Your entire voicemail message may run for 20 or 30 seconds, but your true value better come through in the first 5 to 10 seconds.
Craft a message script that keeps your prospects from hitting the delete button. Remind the prospect why you’re calling him. Ask if he ever uses freelance writers for their white papers. Explain who you are and why you’re different in about 2 sentences.
And practice your value proposition until it sounds natural and professional.
Finally, if after leaving 3 voicemail messages and sending 1 or 2 emails over the course of 3 or 4 weeks you haven’t received a return call, don’t despair. Move on.
But keep “touching” that prospect from time to time with value-added information and other marketing messages.
Don’t fight voicemail. Don’t get frustrated. Instead, recognize its power as a marketing vehicle and learn to work with it.
About the Author: Ed Gandia is the author of the eBook Stop Wishing and Start Earning: A Low-Risk Plan to Escape 9-5 and Launch a Profitable Copywriting Business. To learn more, visit www.CopywritingActionPlan.com.