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?
- If you try, sometimes you success.
- If you don't try, you will never succeed.
- If you have the right message people will respond.
- If you pick the right marketing channel, you can reach your audience.
- If you know your audience and what they want they will respond.
- 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.