Ed Note: This is a departure from my usual posts. Today's post is for: Companies who have a service/software they want to 'sell' to my audience. If you're one of my avid readers/listeners, you may still be interested in this.
I work(ed) hard to get a big audience (with a rocking email open rate), so it's not a surprise that I get a LOT of inquiries from companies (mostly Amazon and eBay software and service providers) who smell fresh blood want to get in front of them.
I get it. Everyone wants new business, and with everyone offering "The Next Big Thing" in e-commerce, it's getting extremely hard to be heard. Products and services targeting the eBay and (particularly) Amazon seller are everywhere, all promising huge profit boosts and efficiencies. The risk to my audience can be high because any company can be a guy in a basement who hung out a shingle, and who wants the user's credit card number.
The reality: Of all the companies that have approached me, I've found roughly 30% are trusted, with a proven product/service, and poised for a long haul. Another 30% are flash-in-the pan (here today, gone tomorrow). And a good 40% have no business sniffing around (they're clearly not a match to my audience, and/or they emerged from the back of the local used car lot).
I'm not trying to sound like an elitist here, all like "my audience I are too good for you." It's not that. Really. It's because:
1.) I get multiple offers from potential partners per week, and no/very little time (like, seconds) to review them; and
2.) Some offers require far too much effort from me/my audience for too little benefit. My audience and I want to be able to extract value from it nearly instantly. That means: save us money, make us money, or both. It should be done quickly, without jumping through hoops. (Alternately, if using your solution requires work from us, that 'work' should be a lot of fun); and
3.) Most companies that approach me should be able to communicate their (real) value proposition quickly and concisely. I don't mean the shiny MBA value proposition that's on their web site. We (my audience and I) want to hear "here's how we've helped sellers like you increase profits/save money," et. al. Nine out of 10 times I get emails from businesses that shout "Yay! We Rock! Why? We Don't Know! We Just do! Your Audience NEEDS to Know About Us Too!"
4.) This is a business. Here's where 1% of my audience doesn't get it. That 1% wants me to do everything for free. Some potential partners, too, want me to promote their products for free/nearly free because "Jordan, your audience deserves to learn about this great opportunity, and no one can profit but us.". I have news: the hundreds of Amazon and eBay experts/blog owners/Facebook group folks who are saying they're doing everything free for altruistic (read: they don't want to make any money) reasons are lying. They want to build up an audience they can eventually sell to. My blog exists today because it's a revenue source for me. Yes I give away a lot for free but if I spend all (or even half) of my time doing that, I'll be broke. I'm a person in the U.S. with employees, a family, mouths to feed and dreams and goals. None of that is free. So if any of you (online sellers and/or potential partners) are saying "Jordan, you should be giving that away for free" - please do the same and give away 50% of your physical products for free, and see how that works out for you. Translation: If you're a potential business partner, please make it worth my while to participate.
So, if you want to get my attention (and get big brownie points to potentially get in front of my audience), I have some tips for you. Actually, you could take these tips and duplicate them for other blog owners/big Facebook Group owners etc., and thus get even more brownie points and exposure. The thing is, this requires a little work. 95% of you reading this won't do it. 5% will. Those 5% are poised to win. Ok here we go:
- Offer me a free trial (more than 15 days), and give me instant access (hint: send the log-in info right away when you're soliciting me. The less work for me the better.) I'm not asking this because I want free stuff, I'm asking because you need to make it easy for me (not paying is one less step for me); AND
- Offer 5 to 10 of my audience members a free trial (at least 30 days), with no strings attached, and in exchange for their honest feedback. This is a no-brainer as you'll be getting almost instant feedback at a very low cost. I'm surprised at how little this is done. Instead most of you want the quick buck. My audience will be appreciative, and the 100s of them who missed out in the 'first free 5' will probably be eager with anticipation to get access to it anyway; AND
- Make it easy for those audience members to get said trial access; AND
- Offer me contact info of 3 of your current users. (I mean actual users, not employees nor partners). Get their permission of course so I can talk to/email them. It's easy to line them up ahead of time. If you don't have at least 3 knowledgeable users, you should have either a.) an explanation or b.) a lousy product that needs improvement (e.g. you're afraid of what those users might say to me).
In addition, there are things you can do that can help convince me (or another expert) that your solution (and you) are the 'real deal':
- Offer to write a post for my blog. That is, an unbiased blog post with truly helpful info. Show that you researched my other blog posts (so you understand the tone/target) and offer up 3 ideas with a brief explanation of how that might be helpful to my audience. I'm not saying this make you "do work", but if you write something that a.) doesn't push a product and b.) is truly helpful to the audience in a specific and actionable way, you build trust with that audience. So when the blog owner/expert is promoting your stuff in return, it's an easier 'bite' for said audience. Ed. Note: I hate 'fluffy' blog posts, and so does my audience. Instead of writing (say) "Private Label Selling Made Easy" (we've seen that 1000 times), try "8 Free Private Label Product Marketing Strategies that Work". When contacting me, give me your concrete ideas and your exact time frame when you can deliver the finished blog post (preferably in html format so I can just cut and paste it in).
- Offer up (real) 'social proof'. Got a Better Business Bureau page or another (legit, high-trafficked) web site with reviews of you/your company? Include it in your email. Linkedin profile(s) of your founder(s)? Include it in your email. A dedicated facebook group of fans/customers? Include it in your email.
Even if you are able to deliver all of the above, I can't promise I'll be able to partner with you. Sometimes the timing is bad or there's not a clear match between what you have to offer and my audience.
I know most of you are looking at this and saying 'What a snot' (but my audience members are probably grateful), but look - there is no free lunch. If you want our attention and time, you need to stand apart. Remember when you were in the job market? Submitting a resume and leaning back won't do anything. There's 25 people ahead of you trying to make a truly great impression.
Good luck! (I know y0u want to sound off on this. Be heard!)