The email “looking for work” blast: Surely there’s a better approach

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NeuronsThe Certified Professional Service Marketer (CPSM) listserve continues to provide insight gems even though, from a technological perspective, the listserve email model reminds me of eight-track tapes and black and white broadcast television (though it is fun sometimes to go retro, and watch some old Three Stooges episodes on YouTube). Content here is confidential to Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) members who have qualified for certification, so I cannot reproduce the threads without permission.

However, without disclosing individual identities, I can discuss the latest topic — started when a marketer observed how she is being “flooded” with form-email solicitations from sub-consultants and others looking for opportunities based on an impending surge in public procurements in her state.

On one level, the sub-consultants are behaving rationally. If you want to win public sector work, especially as a sub within the architectural and engineering space, qualified lead constants and professionals have a built-in edge to win the work they desire. This is the Brooks Act at work. (Canadians, who generally associate with a friendlier, less brutally competitive business environment, can only drool about the concept that price does not enter into the selection process. I’ve written a story about the differences for Ontario Construction Report, which you can read here.)

However, if relationships and reputation are important to win the work as a prime, why do subs think that blast emails (or at best, individually-sent form emails) are a worthy way to communicate their expertise, especially if they are pitching just before the perceived opportunity, and don’t have any relationship established with the prime contractor beforehand?  Your communications are verging on spam (if they aren’t actually spam), and probably will end straight in the round basket — with a negative undertone for possible future work.

The advice consensus within the listserve:

  • Individualize your communications, and do everything you can to provide value at the initial stage. If you have any contact or relationship with the owners/final decision  makers, provide some useful insights about their values, interests, or priorities.
  • Plan your relationship-building well before the immediate RFP deadline. Sure, some relationships can build quickly, but generally you need a compelling and individual story, even then.
  • Consider the advantages of the phone, and possibly encouraging a face-to-face meeting (or even co-ordinating a lunch and learn at the consultants’ offices. Again, I’m talking about thoughtful one-on-one phone calls, not spammy telemarketing. In other words, call where you really have a connection, relationship, or value to add, not just a blind “hope it sticks to the wall” strategy.

Finally, several SMPS members noted the subs sending the broadcast emails weren’t members of their local chapters. Well, here is an opportunity on two levels. One, you could consider calling he prime consultant and asking about the value of SMPS — and maybe receive a guest invite to a local chapter meeting. Then, maybe, you could join. I’ve made it clear in many postings that, especially in the business-to-business marketing environment, you can truly achieve incredible marketing success through selfless participation in relevant client-focused business associations. If you are a sub-consultant, and your potential prime consultants are also SMPS members, I think membership would be excellent value for your business or practice.

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