Hitting “publish” on a new website is exciting, but…
You need to get the word out.
Otherwise no one really knows it’s there.
It’s like opening a new store in the middle of the desert.
You ain’t gunna get any customers without any marketing.
Now, I was extremely fortunate with my agency, building on the work I’d done for a few past copywriting clients, I had a couple of quick wins and I was cruising on easy street as they sent me a bunch of new leads.
But a couple of months in, business started slowing down.
Word of mouth marketing was working, but referrals just weren’t enough.
And I was still bootstrapping, lacking a big budget to launch a campaign with a bang.
So, I circled back to my network, and decided to double down on a known quantity to drum up some new business.
Tapping LinkedIn for Your Business
Granted, this was 2015 so things were a little different on LinkedIn…
But as I write this it’s got me thinking I need to rekindle this particular gem of a strategy in the coming months.
It’s quite powerful when done right, and I’ll keep you posted how it goes with a new update just as soon as I am done.
But back to this…
I chose LinkedIn for this experiment for a couple of reasons.
It was way better than cold emailing, and as I was just getting my agency off the ground I didn’t have a massive portfolio or decades of experience backing me up to help me win a bunch of new business.
What I had, was a big group of friends.
People I’d connected to at events, other expats, colleagues and former study buddies, even a few old bosses in there.
And that’s a powerful thing.
Plus, I figured if anyone was going to give me the time of day, it’d be someone who already knew me.
Because we already had rapport, so I could jump straight into the “ask” (without having to put a lot of time in, getting to know each potential target)…
HINT: If you’re planning on using this approach with someone who doesn’t know you, it’s not going to get the same results. You need to butter the prospect up first, the prospect has to value your opinion, feel like you actually care about them, and see you as an authority. Otherwise, they’re not going to give up their valuable time, talking to you.
Approaching this thing with a plan in mind…
Well, it wasn’t rocket science.
I downloaded a list of my connections (just head into Settings > Getting a copy of your data, and you can grab these all here).
At the time there were about 1,200 in my list, and I knew I needed to cull these.
Then came the filtering.
I was looking for business owners, preferably in Thailand.
Line by line, as tedious as this sounds, I deleted anyone who didn’t fit my ideal client profile in the excel file.
For the people who looked interesting, I had a look at their profile, and did some digging.
Not spending long on each one, just enough to help me make a gut decision – “Would they be interested?”
Granted, this did take a couple of hours, but it was worth it.
I wanted the people I was messaging to be my ideal clients.
And as the goal was a free consult, I didn’t want to spend the next 3 months tied up on calls and website reviews.
So I was a little brutal culling the list.
When it was done, there were 55 names.
55 people in my network (1st degree connections), I believed would benefit from an upgrade to their website.
It was time for the outreach…
Actually reaching out to my list…
Even though I had all their emails, I decided to stick to LinkedIn for the messages.
Remember, we’re talking 2015 here.
This was before the platform became a haven for spammers, and I didn’t want to get lost in their email inbox.
If I were to do it all again, I’d do the same now, but with a careful eye on the response rate.
Potentially switching to emails or even a WhatsApp / SMS to do something different if I wasn’t getting the messages read.
Remember, these are people I know (or am comfortable enough with them to message them directly).
You should be targeting the same kind of people.
So back in my spreadsheet, I added three columns with the titles.
- Outreach date.
- Follow up date.
Very simple, nothing too fancy about it.
I just wanted to track who I’d messaged, remember to send a follow up a few days later, and have a space to put in any notes or comments along the way.
Here’s the message I sent out.
Today, I would
- Personalize this even more and shorten the message as we’re all on our phones anyway.
- Drop in some emojis, I like these little guys just don’t overdo it (for god’s sake).
- Lose the company links, and maybe see how a direct booking link to a service like Calendy works.
So it’d be like.
Hey [Frank], jealous of your Fiji trip 👌👌 we should grab a beer so I can hear all about it.
But the reason for my message – I’m launching a new website service, and we’re doing free reviews of existing sites. Thought of you as I was putting this together mate, goal is to give you some quick wins to make more bookings/sales/whatever.
If you make it as easy as possible to reply, that’s when your prospects hit you back.
Right, so next steps.
Depending on their reply, my targets were either…
- Not keen (so I’d say thanks and have a good one)
- Keen (so I’d review their site, and organize a call so I can show them what I think)
The ultimate goal being to position myself as the expert, so they know who to call when they do want to make a change.
And they did call.
Though I will say this.
The way I write my emails and messages isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine.
I’m not trying to be something I’m not, or to make everyone happy.
I send messages like I talk and I don’t work well hiding behind a “face” or a persona.
I just do me.
And it almost becomes a filter to eliminate people who don’t like my style.
And that’s fine, because the people who do respond to it, connect even better.
Those are the customers I want.
So, how’d this whole thing go?
Looking over the numbers, I sent 42 messages.
With the exception of one, they all got read (you can see in message if it’s read or not).
Seven of my friends got back to me asking for feedback.
I handled three over email, five over the consultation calls I wanted.
The reason I wanted calls is they’re more personal.
You can cover a heck of a lot more than typing out a mammoth email…
But you can also ask questions, figuring out what they need, what they’re after, and positioning your business as the logical solution to their problems.
Oh, and bonus points if you can keep it light and make them laugh.
Now, a couple of my friends were looking for services I didn’t provide, a couple of people were just looking for free advice, and one wasn’t in a place to make a change. Which is fine….
Because I landed three new clients out of it.
THREE FRIKKEN CLIENTS.
Three new website projects on the books, reflecting a whopping 7% conversion rate on my outreach.
Oh, and zero ad spend.
All up, it was just over 10 hours work.
- 2 hours refining the list of prospects and writing the messages.
- 2 hours messaging everyone on the list.
- 5 hours prepping and doing the “quick consultation calls”
- And about an hour of admin, coordinating timings, following up, that sort of thing.
That’s a damn good return on investment.
Especially as a bootstrapped entrepreneur.
I wasn’t risking money on a “big and scary” campaign.
It didn’t even take that much time.
And you could even space the outreach out if you’re worried about too much work coming in, too fast.
It’s entirely up to you.
I just know that it works.
And that’s why I need to start doing this again (AND YOU SHOULD TOO).