It happens all the time, even for those of us who have been knocking around the direct marketing industry for decades: we meet someone that, in all the years we’ve been at this, have never met. After quickly finding the common intersections, whether they be past jobs or client work or people we mutually know, we find delight in discovering one another, at long last.
It’s been thirty years since the Bell System introduced its seminal campaign around the theme, “Reach out and touch someone,” and although it may sound a bit treacly to some, we’d like to make a modest proposal: that this week, that is exactly what you do. That’s right: contact someone you don’t know whether it be through LinkedIn or some other social media platform, or just based upon curiosity or whim or – hey – if you happen to come across a piece of content you like and you want to give the author props. Why? Because it’s good business. Because the world could use more connectedness right about now. Because we guarantee you will be enriched.
Understand, we’re not talking about the LinkedIn invitation followed by the immediate pitch. We’re talking about taking the time to have a conversation or exchange and beginning the process of getting to know someone whom you don’t. Our experience suggests that, over time, the business will follow; perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but maybe even months or years from now. As Dr. Robert Cialdini explains in his magnum opus Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, people do business with people they like. Liking is the foundation of trust and, let’s face it: it’s a whole lot more fun doing business with people you get along with and genuinely appreciate.
We’re not for one moment suggesting you approach this task with a Machiavellian attitude driven by self-interest. Sure, it’s part of the equation, but this is really about building your sphere of influence, about making small, incremental deposits in what 7 Habits guru Dr. Stephen R. Covey calls “an emotional bank account.” That account balance, build up over time, individual by individual, is what allows you to call in the favor when needed or to tap your network. Call it goodwill or karma or whatever you want, but when you take the time to get to know others with no particular hidden agenda, something magical happens. It may very well be a nod to another Cialdini principle: The Law of Reciprocation. Do some good for others and they will in turn, be more inclined to do something good for you. At its most powerful, it creates a diversified portfolio of relationships with a return on investment beyond measure.
You may be thinking: who’s got the time? You’re peddling the bike as hard as you can, trying to earn an income to take care of your family. But when the dust settles, when you enter the sunset of your career and look back, how will you measure your achievements? So, pick up the phone, invite a stranger to lunch, or take a few moments to make an overture with a few keystrokes and a click. Then – please – report back to us and let us know what happens. This is exactly how your Friday Forecasters finally encountered each another after passing one another for many years, and our collaboration has been a thing of joy, so we can report first hand: it works. Let it work for you!
Colleen Ferrier is a seasoned direct marketing expert who specializes in guiding integrated direct-to-consumer campaigns with an acute focus on ROI. Her broad experience has included management oversight of marketing, operations, media, and international distribution. The campaigns she has been instrumental in helping lead to success across her 15+ year career include Pillow Pets, Little Giant Ladder, Dream Lites, and Stompeez. Ferrier has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Augusta University, Georgia.
Rick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO/DoubleFlex. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing and Sales from Marylhurst University.