50 Referral Acceptances on One Friday Evening

Evenings are not a time that I contact customers and prospects. I respect their time and privacy. I definitely don't try to promote something on a Friday evening. But a couple weeks ago I did and it worked out very well. Let me explain.

It all started when I decided to attend a 3 day workshop hosted by Colin Sprake, CEO of Make Your Mark. During day 2 - a Friday - Colin gave us a challenge. The challenge was to see who could find 10 referrals by noon the next day - a Saturday. 

Usually I don't attend sessions like these. And I definitely don't refer charlatans to my friends. I have attended "motivational" sessions in the past and the speaker is always pulling on emotional strings to get people to buy books, CDs, DVDs, courses and other stuff that I don't have time for. And typically, they overstate everything and just piss me off.

But a good friend of mine encouraged me to attend a 2 hour evening presentation. I went because she asked me and to support her as she develops her small business. Colin, however, impressed me. I learned a couple things that I could apply to the businesses that I manage. As a result I decided to attend the 3 day session. Some of the information was a repeat from things that I had learned before but I still learned lots and I've applied the learning to the our businesses.

Back to the challenge. I was impressed with Colin and his team that I took him up on his challenge to get 10 referrals in 3.5 hours on a Friday evening. At one point he said, "A good sales person can do it". That was all I needed. But in addition to the pride factor, the reward was a free lunch with Colin (the free lunch caught my attention). In addition, whoever got the most referrals would get a free course. I was up for the challenge: partially for the free food and training but mostly because I wasn't sure if I could do it. I like a challenge, especially when I can learn something on the journey.

The challenge had 2 major constraints:

  • limited time to plan and execute - about 3 hours
  • terrible time to connect - who wants to be bothered on a Friday evening?

However, the real challenge that I had was a practical problem that all marketer's face: how do I connect with my target audience with an appealing message? And in this case, in a very short period of time. 

I considered email, but who reads email on a Friday evening? Messaging my contacts on LinkedIn would have been perfect but the time was just too tight. I considered social media and dropped that idea for the same reason (Honestly? I don't have enough followers to make an impact that quickly). I thought of phoning which would work although it is intrusive and with all the small talk it would take to long. I decided to try texting a message to friends and business contacts. 

I started by composing a message about the contest to get referrals. I sent it to a couple people at work. They responded!

I kept going. I sent texts to about 100 friends, relatives, and business associates. I sent to anyone who had a cell phone and I thought would benefit from 3 days of business training.

It worked - 50 people accepted. I got the free lunch and I won the free business training.

So what did I learn?

  1. If you try, sometimes you success.
  2. If you don't try, you will never succeed.
  3. If you have the right message people will respond.
  4. If you pick the right marketing channel, you can reach your audience.
  5. If you know your audience and what they want they will respond.
  6. Be nice to your friends - you never know when you need a favor.

Would I do this again? Probably not. At least not this weekend.