I'm looking for ways to contact Businesses or Corporates for a product/service that might be of use to them? What are the ways i could do this?
Er...write to them? E-mail them? Telephone them? Fax them?
I think I must be misunderstanding your question. Can you explain a bit more, please?
Isn't it spamming if i contact them through email? I'm not sure about calling... What kind of numbers are listed in Do not call registries(dnc) etc? What happens if someone runs a small home/office business and the number is listed in some dnc?
And what about sending old fashioned mails... isn't that considered junk mail? I'm not sure if sending faxes has the right effect... Basically what methods could i use to contact them directly? It might be i'm somewhat confused about the right and wrong approach between consumers and businesses .. Emailing consumers might be wrong but perhaps it isn't wrong for businesses... Please clarify.
Contacting a business (be it by email or phone) directly to solicit to them your product/service is considered spamming/telemarketing and will probably be deleted by the recipient (if the spam filter doesn't catch it) or you'll be hung up on if you call.
What you'll likely want to do is market your site a bit to try and draw interested customers.
seems the two mentors on Sitepoint have completely opposite views on the issue.... confusing
I cam across some postcard service last week it was touchnote or something. Some one had sent me a post card using that method. it was a simple card with little words on it.. that was pretty good way to approach someone new. I guess there must be some other competitors ofr better service to it.. try searching for it on Google, you may get something unique!
I think it largely depends on how well defined, productised and easy to understand your service is and how much it costs in relation to other business services.
On the super-well defined end, easy to understand service end you would likely compete with existing services and you could use email marketing by finding partners that lend you their list (probably for a commission). It does sound like you don't have too many customers now, so I recommend to sell 50 units in person through networking. Other methods would be cold calling, sales letters and advertising in media (incl offline!) that your customers frequent.
On the other end your service may
- require a lot of customisation
- difficult to understand the benefits or they are very strategic
- require a lot of trust (for example due to size of average sale or how much it changes how the organisation works)
In this case networking is in my opinion the best option. I would still try to sell 2-4 units myself first to establish reference customers and case studies. Then sell it through networking, either by
- establishing a sales force that has the networks
- finding partner companies that sell a different service to the same customers.
I am at the latter end of the scale - we produce custom built web applications and we find that the following partner companies work well for us:
- IT support companies
- telecommunication consultants
- more productized or less technical web developers
- software marketing consultants
Before you do that make sure that you are prepared about anything they could possibly ask.
Like the services you can offer, what you can do that is unique from others and also be ready
for your quote so that they can estimate how much they will spend and possibly discuss it with their company.
I was assuming here that you're not planning some mass e-mailing campaign, which would be considered spamming, but that you're trying to contact certain specific companies which might have a particular interest in your product. If the latter, then you're basically doing the same as an old-fashioned sales rep, and I don't see why that would be a problem. Ring/write/e-mail and tell them (briefly) about your product and ask if you can arrange to speak/visit at a later date to give them more details. If they're not interested - fine, you've not lost much.
Your original post asked about contacting Corporates, so I wasn't thinking in terms of small businesses. Unless your service is ideally suited to very small businesses, I'd forget about trying to contact them direct. Advertising in trade journals or similar might be more effective here.
That's what makes a forum interesting.
I was assuming he was planning some sort of mass emailing campaign! If you plan on doing what TechnoBear said in her last post, then I don't see too much of a problem.
Where the problem starts is [mass] contacting businesses on random (the point I was trying to make in my previous post). That is spamming!
All Good points ... They raise a few more questions in my mind.... At the moment i've got some urgent work fixing a few things... i'll perhaps reply to each of these when i'm a bit relaxed and can clearly think about them... i'll get back to you later today or perhaps tomorrow...
Assuming you're in the U.S., the DNC only applies to B2C not B2B calls. If someone is running a business out of their home and purchased a business phone line (and not simply a second residential line), then they are a business.
Unlike unsolicited emails, cold-calling businesses is not spamming. It's an effective way to generate new business. All of the suggestions other have made are also excellent ways to prospect. Networking can be effective; unfortunately it can be slow. Cold-calling has the advantage of getting clients very quickly. You could literally call someone today, set an appointment to meet them three days from now, and close the deal by the end of the week.
Long term, your best bet is to pick 2 or 3 marketing activities, because no one thing works all the time. Networking and cold-calling would be on the top of my list.
Great post John ... you just answered one of my doubts and what i also thought would be the case... I have more questions though but i certainly need to be clear in my head before i ask them here.. hopefully i'll be able to revisit the thread again within this week.
ok so i'm back and here's what my understanding at this point is ...
1) B2B calls are ok in U.S.(although there's a mention above that there's a risk of being hung up on...) ..B2C are not . So as long as B2B calls are legal i don't think i run the risk of being hung up on cos what i'm offering is really useful to a particular industry and more over it's a free trial. So please correct me if you believe my understanding on this is wrong(As John mentioned above B2B does not fall under DNC, so should be perfectly legal.)
2) I'm also interested in finding out what the law says regarding cold calling businesses in other countries? Say if it's perfectly legal cold calling businesses in my country, what happens when you call some other country where the law is a bit different. I guess we're perfectly fine as long as we comply with the law of the country we're based in... What do you think?
3)So i'm still a bit confused about what you would consider email spam... Say i do a search on the net for businesses that i want to target in a particular industry and probably end up writing/emailing a personal email to owner, marketing head etc. for 10 of those businesses each day . What should i do to stay perfectly legal while emailing some of those businesses? Or is this considered spam in any case? I don't want to be doing anything illegal and anything that might have some heavy penalties.
4)Again what's the law on cross-country emails? Is there somewhere on the internet a list of countries email/spam laws ? We know about the usual countries USA, UK etc. , however there might be other places in the world where the culture might be different and it it might be all right sending emails. How about countries that have no anti-spam laws.... How do you counter cross - country spam - the spammer might be in a country that has no law regarding spam?
Hopefully some of you can shed some light on these things and help me out. And yes of course there's much more to marketing than cold-calling and emails but as John mentioned
"Networking can be effective; unfortunately it can be slow. Cold-calling has the advantage of getting clients very quickly. You could literally call someone today, set an appointment to meet them three days from now, and close the deal by the end of the week.
Long term, your best bet is to pick 2 or 3 marketing activities, because no one thing works all the time. Networking and cold-calling would be on the top of my list. "
"1) B2B calls are ok in U.S.(although there's a mention above that there's a risk of being hung up on...) ..B2C are not . So as long as B2B calls are legal i don't think i run the risk of being hung up on cos what i'm offering is really useful to a particular industry and more over it's a free trial. So please correct me if you believe my understanding on this is wrong(As John mentioned above B2B does not fall under DNC, so should be perfectly legal.)"
B2C calls are not illegal, per se; you just need to merge your list with the official DNC list and remove those names before you call.
And, not to burst your bubble, you will get hung up on, even if your offer is spectacular. My best lead generator sets about 1 appointment for every 60 calls. Of those, only 15% sell; yet, that's enough for him to generate over $100K in revenue a year.
"2) I'm also interested in finding out what the law says regarding cold calling businesses in other countries?"
International cold-calling? Might get a bit pricey. Just sayin'
"3)So i'm still a bit confused about what you would consider email spam... Say i do a search on the net for businesses that i want to target in a particular industry and probably end up writing/emailing a personal email to owner, marketing head etc. for 10 of those businesses each day . What should i do to stay perfectly legal while emailing some of those businesses? Or is this considered spam in any case? I don't want to be doing anything illegal and anything that might have some heavy penalties."
If I understand it correctly, the CAN-SPAM Act prohibits any non-solicited commercial email, both B2C and B2B (someone correct me if I'm wrong). Regardless of the legality, it's generally frowned upon and not very effective.
You're better off cold-calling for appointments and when you get a 'no,' asking if you can sign them up for your email newsletter ... so long as you tell them its full of useful information they'd be interested in. Once they opt-in, you're okay, legal-wise.
Hope that helps.
I don't see how sending mail, email or calling people is wrong. This is how business is done, especially if you are a small unknown business trying to get your name out there. Businesses call eachother all the time, trying to sell something. Sure it is anoying when you get advertisments everywhere, but so what, you are not in the business of pleasing everyone in the world, you are in the business of selling your products or services.
I agree but it's the laws of the land/country that makes things complicated, hard to understand what is legal/allowed and what is not...
Well all of the recommendations, other have made are also outstanding methods to probability. Social media can be effective unfortunately it can, be slowly. Cold calling has the benefits of getting customers, very easily.
My favorite way to contact businesses to sell a product/service as always been to have a nice looking, well written website that ranks well on Goolgle, and then let the businesses contact me. That way they are already pre-sold on what I can do for them, and deal is much easier to close.
If you're an expert at what you do, you can join forums that your potential clients would participate in, and help them with great answers. Link to your site in your signature. You will get interested visitors to your site who can turn into clients.
I know you asked for ways to contact business, but I thought I'd share my experience with doing it a different way.
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