Are you being persistent or a pest?, Part I

This question about how much is too much when it comes to courting new clients came in from Jennifer Neal, Managing Partner at K9 Design Co. in Toronto. Since it’s kind of an evergreen topic for so many people, we thought we’d address it here.

I’ll go first, and Ilise will take a stab at it tomorrow. Now, that question…

Q: I decided this year to commit to marketing consistently. I committed to sending out one promo cookie for the purpose of prospecting — to one prospect per week — for my business. If we brought in one client out of 52 possibles, that could be more business than I know what to do with.

After dropping off the cookie personally to one prospect — getting the name of the receptionist and chatting her up, phone that afternoon to follow up, getting v mail, following up a few days later, getting v mail again, then following up with an e mail after that, each time speaking with the lovely receptionist to get my info who by the way seems perfectly pleased to give me and talk to me — I am still nowhere. No returned phone calls or e-mails.

I try to balance the line between pest and persistent — but you can spell "pest" out of persistent, so I am cautious and careful. Any thoughts??

A. First, may I just commend you on an awesome plan. Breaking down the daunting task of prospecting into bite-size chunks (pun intended) is definitely the way to go. And as you mentioned, you only need one or two ‘hits’ out of many, many tries to make it well worth your while.

With that in mind, I believe you can ease off each individual prospect a little. Personally, I think one follow-up call is enough, with a polite, friendly, no-pressure email follow-up a week or so later—a "hope you enjoyed the cookie, please let us know if we can help you in the future." Then note in your tickler file or contact management software to follow up again with a different, low-end marketing piece like a postcard or somesuch in 4 months or so.

Remember, the trick is never to attach too much meaning to any particular prospect, campaign, event, etc. Adopt that attitude and you’ll run less risk of being a pest, along with attracting more of the clients you want.