How To Attract The Attention Of Your Hottest Prospects
The captivating way a cartoonist I met could capture the attention of important people compelled me to want to interview him about how he used the method to increase sales while reducing marketing costs for himself and for others. Meet Stu Heinecke, author of How to Get a Meeting With Anyone: Untapped Selling Power of Contact Marketing.
Kare Anderson: Please tell us about one of your successes, using what you now call “contact marketing” and what that term means to you.
Stu Heinecke: When I started my marketing business, I wanted to mix cartooning with direct marketing, to create large mail campaigns for magazine publishers. My first two assignments were test campaigns for Rolling Stone and Bon Apétit, both of which produced record response rates. I immediately put together a campaign to reach the rest of the big publishers to get them to test with me as well. That meant connecting with 24 vice presidents at elite, Manhattan-based media companies. I knew that wouldn’t be easy, but pressed ahead with what I dubbed a “contact campaign.” It consisted of a personalized cartoon print and letter explaining what I’d just accomplished and suggesting a test. That campaign not only produced a 100% response, all of them became clients, which launched my business and produced millions of dollars of business. And it all came from an effort that cost less than a hundred dollars.
As I collected stories of what others had been doing to break through to their most important prospects, I discovered there was an entire, hidden marketing practice that has been producing unheard-of metrics for response and ROI. Response rates had been going as high as 100% and ROI on the campaigns easily soared into the tens, even hundreds of thousands of percent. Oddly, among all of the top sales thought leaders interviewed for the book, no one had a name for what we were doing. So I was lucky enough to name it contact marketing in the book.
Anderson: How does contact marketing differ from other forms of marketing or selling?
Heinecke: It’s different in two vital ways.
First, in traditional marketing, we think of cost per thousand, cost per click, cost per piece, etc. One of marketers’ goals is to push those costs as low as possible. Unfortunately those costs are kept low because response rates are also quite low. But in contact marketing, since we’re only focused reaching the key decision makers who can have the biggest impact on our sales, we don’t need to worry about cost per contact, because each contact is worth so much. This is especially true for companies that seek million-dollar accounts. It’s extremely cost effective to be spending just a thousand dollars each to make those happen.
Second, contact marketing produces metrics never seen in other forms of marketing, with response rates as high as 100% and ROI in the tens, even hundreds of thousands of percent.
Anderson: What does a contact marketing campaign look like and what are the steps marketeers or business owners can take to craft one?
Heinecke: NoWait is an app that transforms any smart phone into one of those “your table is ready” pucks restaurants use to let you know your table is ready. Their launch campaign went to just thirty people, but these were the CEOs of the top restaurant chains in America including Red Robin, Chili’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. They sent personalized videos on iPads explaining the problem, their solution, and then their CEO spoke directly into the camera, asking the target CEO to take a meeting. The app is now used by 20 of those 30 top chains.
Dan Waldschmidt, a top sales blogger and turnaround specialist, sends custom swords to CEOs of distressed companies and gets through essentially 100% of the time. I use my own cartoons to help clients break through. One of our Fortune 250 clients recently used my cartoon contact system to go from a zero to 75% contact rate with their biggest account group overnight using my cartoon-based system.
To craft your own campaign, you first need to identify who are the people who can most change the scale of your career or business. As The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need author Anthony Lannarino puts it, you want to find the “CEO of the problem you want to address.” And then you’ll need to come up with some pretty clever ideas to reach them. In my book, I list twenty categories of Contact Campaign types, so readers can see which one they could use for their organization. I would humbly, but strongly recommend they take advantage of the free bi-monthly coaching calls we’re doing through the National Association of Sales Professionals. It’s an opportunity for them to connect with a community of people putting contact marketing to work in their careers and businesses, and get help with your own campaigns. There is also a training course on contact marketing.
Anderson: What’s a cartoonist doing writing a book about marketing and sales?
Heinecke: I am a The Wall Street Journal cartoonist. But I’m also a Direct Marketing Association hall of fame-nominated marketer with several record-breaking campaigns under my belt including for The New Yorker, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Harvard Business Review and AT&T. I even created a record-breaking subscription campaign for Forbes, using my trademark personalized cartoon approach to draw people into the mailing and respond.
And, as a business owner, I quickly discovered how effective apt cartoons can be as marketing tools because they grab the attention of even business leaders. They helped me directly reach my most important prospects. For my business I used cartoons to sell my creative services for countless marketing campaigns. I’ve been able to reach presidents, a prime minister, celebrities and countless C-level executives and top decision makers.
Anderson: What are some of your favorite moments using cartoons to break through to important people?
Heinecke: I once sent a frameable print of a cartoon to George H. W. Bush showing a guy practice putting in his office, with his assistant sticking her head in the door asking, “Pardon me — would you mind if President Bush plays through?” That netted a nice, personal note from the 41st President, telling me about his golf game.
I used another cartoon print to connect with American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, to secure a referral to the person in charge of their loyalty program, to get The Wall Street Journal listed as one of their rewards. But my favorite was the cartoon I drew on a napkin when I discovered California Governor Pete Wilson was eating in the same restaurant I was. He thanked me and introduced his wife.
Six months later, I sent a frameable cartoon print along with a note, saying, “I hope you’ll remember me.” They not only remembered me, they’d had the napkin framed and mounted over the mantle in the Governor’s Mansion. Then seventeen years later, I contacted his office to ask if he’d write a blurb for my book. I wasn’t sure he’d remember me after all those years, but he sure did. And it all started with a simple cartoon on a bar napkin.
Anderson: What’s one dream client, an individual or organization you’d love to have as a contact marketing client because you could optimize the power of contact marketing for them?
Heinecke: I have a couple of dream client profiles. Working with Fortune 1000 sales teams allows me to create revenue gains at great scale. Startups are interesting because they have such an immediate need for critical contacts to be made, and they need to be adventurous, if not mischievous in their outreach. But really, it’s just to work with any business owner who wants to grow rapidly without using a mega-budget to do it. That is, after all, what the Contact Marketing mission is all about.