How Not To Contact Someone [Heads Up: this is a long post]

Arrived in my email inbox, 5/29/14:

“I produce the show [XXXX] hosted by [XXX],… syndicated show celebrating the world of craft beer. And I’m writing to ask for your help.

As great as the show is (we’ve just been nominated for an [XYZ]), generating revenue to produce the series remains a struggle. We are committed to shooting season two and are trying to fund the shooting of one episode through Kickstarter. Which means we need to get the word out (and quickly, since we are on a 30 day Kickstarter deadline).

It would be a great help if you could please contribute (as little as a buck is ok) and pass the word along to anyone and everyone you know — through Facebook, blogs, email lists, websites, any way you can help us reach as many beer lovers as possible. Please direct everyone to our Kickstarter site via this web address:

[site link]

By doing this, you can be a big part of helping us continue to get the word out about the great craft beer community. And we appreciate the assistance very, very much.

Thanks,

[name unimportant for this post]
Executive Producer
[show name]
[contact information]

My Reply:

“Hello Dave –

I too have a radio program, BeerRadio, every week; here’s the link. Hope all is well, congrats on the nomination. If you’re interested in having me utilize my audience to assist you, that falls under advertising and we can talk about terms/rates/details. If this is what you are keen on, be back in touch.

Good luck with your endeavors.
Cheers –

Ginger”

Reply from contact:

“You are actually telling me that in the craft beer world, where brewers routinely help each other out, you want to charge me to mention my Kickstarter project?  And what’s your price? Will you tie your rates to ROI as measured by donations?”

Here’s then is my dissection and reply of this perfect example of What Not To Do. Before you get your nose out of joint, take a breath and read up. Take it, learn, and redirect:

Hello [name withheld] –

“You are actually telling me that in the craft beer world, where brewers routinely help each other out, you want to charge me to mention my Kickstarter project?”

What do you know about Women Enjoying Beer and me? Are you simply blanket asking any company seemingly related to beer or are you vetting those you’re soliciting? Clearly no vetting or previous relationship work was done. Do you know we’re not brewers? Do you know we’re educators, researchers, and marketing pros? If you do your homework, like you should before soliciting for support, you’d know this. Don’t get irked at me for your lack of preparedness.

What you’re telling me is that you have no intention to pay for professional services to help your effort be successful, is that right cause that’s what it sounds like.

What’s your audience,” you ask. That’s what you should be doing: homework on this one before you blindly ask people. I’d ask you – why did you choose to send this to me? Our audience is wide, varied, global, consumer to pro. What is attractive about our brand that you’re soliciting me? Why are you asking if you don’t know who is listening to us, who we are speaking to and what we can bring to the table?

So, yes, that’s what I’m telling you. Before you get offended by your own poor decisions, consider a few things.

1. You reached out to me, in essence asking me to use my channels of business to advertise your effort, an effort you hope to eventually make a living on. Why should I even respond to an email that is essentially a money ask with no return for my efforts? Do your expenses pay themselves? If no, then don’t ask for free work.

2. We get numerous requests and asks to advertise for people, like yourself. Respect those you contact enough to realize the equation has to have something in it for everyone. For some it may be the sheer “feel good” aspect; for others there are myriad reasons. Never assume I want to give just because we are related to the same business. That’s foolish and arrogant.

3. I assume you make a living, somehow. We’re in business to make a living as well. To ask me for free work is insulting and I doubt you’d do that to your grocer, plumber, or doctor.

4. We’ve yet to meet so you’re making assumptions that because we are simply within the same industry I will do something for free for you. While we certainly give a good deal back, relationships needs to be started, built and grown before an ask is made. It’s assumptive for you to think otherwise. This is, then, a cold call. I don’t care what industry or business or agency you’re with if you’ve not done your work ahead of time.

5. Don’t be offended. You asked me for something and I responded with how it works for us.

6. Why don’t you pitch it instead of asking. Craft a professional pitch, give me the outline, a website, a few reasons based on the research you’ve done on me BEFORE you ask; make the reasons a fit with what we do and are about.

7. Your urgency does not create my emergency. Smart marketing, whether you’re launching a Kickstarter or any kind of campaign, needs to rely on the long view, not the short panic.

8. “As little as a buck…” you’re kidding right?? That’s really bad asking and planning. Go big, again -give me a reasons, tell me the story and know something about me before you ask. You’ll get more that way. Building  project one dollar at a time is a really bad plan.

If you haven’t done your homework, I don’t have time to listen. Good grief! Have some respect.

“Will you tie your rates to ROI as measured by donations?” Of course not – why would you hire any advertiser and then hold them to the results; it’s your brainchild, it’s your decision process and goals – the results fall squarely on your shoulders, not those who you employ to assist.

Here’s some free business advice:

1. Relying on Kickstarter to develop a brand is a backwards tactic. You must build buzz for your brand first then get those who are already excited about it engaged. Tap into the folks who followed and applauded your first season; start with them, and ask them to help spread the word. A lot of people use crowd sourcing wrong.

2. You provide no website or links of information for the recipient to consider. I’m not talking about the kickstarter site – I’m talking about the show site. Where’s that information? You’re putting sex before the first kiss.

3. You didn’t even ask if I was interested in the project – you didn’t me tell me a story of why this may be engaging; you didn’t get my permission to solicit me. You made all sorts of assumptions only considering yourself first.

4. How much competition is there for Kickstarter attention? How and why does your project stand apart? Why should anyone engage and support it? And why are you assuming people in/related to the industry want to/have time to/ feel compelled to assist?
5. Did you try calling instead, making a personal voice connection? No? Why not, I’d ask? Calling, asking right off the bat if the person has time to talk, then perhaps approaching the subject AFTER you know who you’re calling and how they also benefit from your requests is a much better tact.
I wish you the best, truly. And recommend you put more business thought into this project before going forward. Thick skin, thinking outside yourself and shelf the emotion you have tied to the project and purpose. Stay enthusiastic and focus on the people you are asking first. Then renew your efforts. You’re welcome to be in touch when you’ve go ta few more things figured out.
You know what’s in it for you. Be prepared to tell me what’s in it for me.
Cheers –
Ginger

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Know Your Market. Are You Listening (insert brand here)?

Yesterday I received a lovely large black envelope in the mail. It’s clearly a marketing piece and is quite impressive by the looks of it.

When I opened it though, I was confused. The lovely design and professional contents were equally impressive…until I realized that the company had not done their basic research to find out what kind of company we are.

Contents:

1. An assortment of beer and wine package labels

2. A card stock “We offer our clients….” sheet, with a QR code and contact information.

3. A letter starting with “Premium Labels for Breweries!”…..

Here’s when the impression went from “hmmmm – this is nice” to “hmmm…why would I do business with or refer forward a company whose solicitation was not well thought out?”

1. No name of an actual person is anywhere. If you’re going to invest this much money (any money for that matter) in nice sales materials, you should absolutely personalize it and include a representatives name and direct contact information. [email protected] or [email protected] isn’t the way business is done nor the way it should go. We need MORE personal interaction, live on the phone and in person, not less by neutering the contact.

2. They clearly didn’t do the research and realize WEB isn’t a brewery. While we get that periodically, it never ceases to amaze and irritate me. This is careless and a very elemental and easy step in the process of creating targets for your products and services. Frankly: if the company’s staff isn’t willing to take a few more minutes to check out what a business does on the internet these days, then they’ve carelessly wasted valuable resources and given the recipient a bad impression.

3. “We look forward to serving you!” Really?! When you didn’t even due diligence to find out who we are and what we do? Who’s leading the charge here where this poorly targeted packet is a total wash? If I was the owner of the company I’d be embarrassed by this error.

Know your market. If you want someone’s business, you must make the time to investigate if they are the best prospect. It takes less time in the short and long run to properly qualify than it does to waste materials, resources, and time than is ever will to make stupid mistakes.

So, Collotype digital, I won’t be ordering nor even contacting you. You need to vet and clean your list. In return I won’t send you any materials I know don’t suit you by doing a bit of simple research first.

Well, I might send them a link to this post in hopes that they’ll be more careful next time around. Sloppy isn’t endearing.

2 comments

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Beer Business Needs

With a nod to Seth Godin, I’d take a recent post of his and share an exploded view of how it applies to the professional beer community.

A hierarchy of business to business needs

Primary Needs:

Avoiding risk. Avoiding risk involves doing market research. What you don’t know can kill a business…and therefore your dreams, livelihood and create unnecessary future difficulties. Risk is calculated, chance is luck. Do you want to calculate for success or leave it to luck? Does your neighborhood really need another IPA or could a tasty session beer be the missing piece?

do your research

WEB can tell you that if you do proper market research with female consumers before launching your brand you’ll greatly reduce rate of failure and increase rate of success. It’s already a fact that American women determine 75 – 85% of all purchases. Be willing to get to know that information and embrace it.

Avoiding hassle. Hassle is such a negative word. Who wants a hassle? No one. So do your homework (see a pattern?) to make sure you reduce hassle before it happens. If you’re opening any kind of public space, even if it’s a hallway to get from point a to point b, bring in some honest female consumers who will share their opinions about it. Listen to them because they know what they’re talking about – they’re your customers.

Gaining praise. Ahhhhh…the glory part. The glory is sweeter when you make sure the above is taken care of first. Seth’s right. Only when you can get these concerns properly anticipated and mitigated can you have fun making a profit. Gaining praise is just that: a process and an earned award, not an assumption or foregone conclusion. And arrogance has no place here either. Humble pie serves businesses well.

Find out authentically how you can gain praise for the brands by talking to the potential market and existing market if you’re already operational.

Gaining power. Power is like growth – it’s a different definition for everybody. What kind of power do you want? Buying power? Marketing power? Quality power? Communication power? Repeat customer power? Higher turns and increased frequency participation power? Looking at your goals, mission and vision will help you determine these answers.

Have fun!

Having fun. Almost there. Having fun is very important, and fun doesn’t mean funny. They’re different things. Fun can be a sense of reward and gratification. It can be laugh out loud, chuckle to yourself or smiling inwardly. Whatever it is, you need fun.

Who ever tells you that they love their permanently high stress job that they dread going to every day?! No one. You have to have some aspect of fun to the purpose and exercise. My mantra here has always been “If you’re not having fun, get out!”

Making a profit. Hard work, removing hurdles, growing, gaining, discovering, having fun – all of it will lead to profitability. And making a profit is something people should be proud of. No matter your business status or technical category, we all need to make money to keep pursuing what we’re doing. If you make it and keep it – i.e. LLC, S Corp, etc. or if you make it and give is away – i.e. 501 (c) 3 you still need to make it to pay bills and push the cause forward.

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What Does Your Brand Mean?

Do you know what your brand means to your market - or is it foggy?

What does your brand mean to the people who are participating in your brand?

  • Is it a known set of consistent images?
  • Is your brand about attitude, lifestyle, or goals?
  • Is it resonating with them for an emotional reason (because this is thee most powerful appeal to any group of consumers: emotional)?
  • Is your brand about who they see themselves as or what they see the brand as?
  • If the brand aspirational or inspirational?
  • Does it reflect who they are, who they may want to be like, or someone else they know or want to know?

To successfully sell any product, you MUST know your market. More importantly you must find out what your target market is thinking and what they base their decisions on. That’s the acid test.

When you know what moves your consumer to action, then you can also act. And usually it’s for mutual success.

If you don’t know, ask them. They’ll tell you.

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Marketing Beer To Women, Part 2: Know Your Market

Yesterday we launched what will surely be a long series about Marketing Beer To Women. Yes, it’s different than marketing to ‘everyone’ or marketing to men. You don’t market tampons to men and you don’t market elder care to teenagers. While beer is universal, marketing is not.

Today’s topic is Knowing Your Market. Marketing isn’t a difficult concept to understand, yet you do in fact need to understand it to market effectively. Marketing is marketing. Marketing ISN’T advertising, sales or anything else. Just as brewing isn’t distributing or reselling beer.

Know Your Market

One of the resources that helped me understand that marketing isn’t advertising is Sam’s book, Brewing Up A Business. I’d highly recommend this read. Sam is straight forward and on target.

Another primary resource I’d absolutely recommend reading, if not require for all marketers, is Marti Barletta’s Marketing to Women. Anyone selling anything that does not yet understand that women make 80% of all purchasing decisions across category lines needs to get up to speed.

Here are some of WEB’s research based guidelines for you to follow in marketing beer to women:

KNOW YOUR MARKET

  • If you don’t know your market, get to know it First – THEN market to it
  • All this applies to both genders
  • Assume nothing
  • It’s an equal and different playing field
  • No sexism is ever necessary or appropriate (any -ism for that matter)

Market research to me used to be an “out there” term. Now I totally understand it and can help any business, particularly the beer community, in properly marketing to women based in research.

Let me put it another way, if you’re not researching your market before opening your doors, you’re setting yourself up to go backwards. Building it assuming they will come is naive and short sighted. And it’s not only disrespectful to the market you think you’re trying to encourage, it could be fatal.

Set yourself up for success: Know Your Market. Market research does just that.

Tomorrow – Part 3: General Guidelines to help you Market Beer To Women

Yesterday – Part 1: Three Universal Truths

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Know Thy Market (#1 of Series)

This may seem like stating the over obvious. However I wouldn’t be specializing in marketing beer to women if there weren’t a need.

Knowing the market you are after, BEFORE you introduce your product to market, is a true basic of marketing. Like the word (marketing ) or not, it’s what you are doing – trying to sell something to the market that will buy your goods.

  • Did you spend time on the front end, prior to opening your brewery, in deciding and identifying your market?
  • If so, what is that market share?
  • Do you pursue them accurately and authentically?

If you answered yes, please continue to read for enjoyment and reinforcement.

If you said no to any one of these inquiries, keep reading. You must know your market – it cannot be incidental – to survive and thrive. To make beer just because you love beer  – if you are hoping to make it a successful business – is foolish (unless you’re independently wealthy).

Women tell me over and over in focus groups they feel like (most) beer companies aren’t even trying to reach them. T & A of days past, too young ‘girl’ type females, and all the surrounding traditional advertising is not applicable. Why should a segment (women) listen when they aren’t even trying to be accurately reached?

Be passionate by all means. Be smart about knowing your market. Market research is pretty straight forward stuff. Hire the right person to help you develop and address it properly. it

Know Thy Market.

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What Are You Doing?

What are you doing to authentically attract female market share to your beers?

p1020002Here are some questions and pointers to get you going in the right direction today.

1. Above all, be yourself when you do any kind of marketing. Sounds like a no brainer? Well, don’t change your colors, your tagline, your ‘youness’ – be you. Authenticity is enormous and critically important.

2. Where is your brewery or brewpub located? Where can women find your beers? Who lives in the neighborhood? Who are you trying to attract and why? Does the ‘who’ align with the ‘how’ you’re doing it?

3. What do you have available? Are your staff really knowledgeable and up to date on what the heck you make? When’s the last time you had refresher training?

4. Do you know your market? (this should be number one ALL THE TIME.)

When you have figured out your market share, then you can pursue it. Before that, get to know it. There are multiple ways to do this. Find someone (like a consultant who specializes in this area for instance) who can help properly id your market, or what market share you want to pursue and how it aligns – or doesn’t – with you.

I’m guessing you didn’t choose to buy inferior beer ingredients. So do your homework on earning female market share. Now.

Get it right from the get go.

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