Getting The Meeting

The business world is saturated with people trying to get each other’s attention. What if there were a way to secure your meeting without cold calls, cold emails, or random social media interactions? Cue contact marketing.

In its simplest form, contact marketing is the act of giving a stranger a gift with the intention of getting a meeting. It is an elevated approach that artfully gets the attention of your prospect. My recent guest on Negotiations Ninja, Stu Heinecke, a cartoonist of the Wall Street Journal and the man who coined the term “contact marketing”. In his book, Get the Meeting! Stu outlines his failsafe tactics for attaining prospect meetings. We discussed his techniques and his unprecedented 100% response rate.

How often are you solicited by a stranger via phone calls, emails, or social media? How often do those connections lead to a sales pitch or offer? It is a daily occurrence for most people. Thus, reaching out to someone outside of those channels is a simplified method of standing out. It is a sniper shot versus a scattershot.

But, how? There are at least 20 categories of contact marketing campaigns. Stu relies on his impeccable cartoonist skills to execute his. He researches his prospect and makes his plan, reaches out to the executive assistant or receptionist via the phone and tells them he is going to send their boss something. Next, he draws a custom cartoon for the assistant/receptionist thanking them for their help on the phone. This works – who wouldn’t want a custom drawing from the cartoonist of the Wall Street Journal? Finally, he sends his customized present to the executive through the assistant, thus ensuring it will reach his intended target.

The executive assistant to the executive you are trying to reach is called the gatekeeper for a reason. That person is frequently hand-selected by the executive because they are intelligent, valued, and trusted. Don’t undervalue the role of that person or treat them poorly in this process. Guaranteed, that will hinder your efforts.

There are infinite possibilities in contact marketing. It’s all about conceptualizing an approach that works for your prospect and your business. Orabrush, a startup selling a tongue scraping device via YouTube, wanted to break into Walmart. They used their digital marketing skills to target the precise zip code of Walmart HQ in Arkansas with a video about Walmart employees having bad breath. It worked. Walmart ordered 735,000 units, and Orabrush went up in value by 10 times.

Contact marketing needs to be creative and thoughtful. “It doesn’t have to be a cartoon. It doesn’t have to be even particularly clever,” says Stu. “It just needs to be thoughtful [and] maybe audacious.”

If you’re intrigued by contact marketing, listen to the podcast for more great insights from Stu. Check out my Linkedin for more great business and negotiation insights.