More uncharacteristically business-y thoughts

The inner marketing geek resurfaced in an e-mail to Sean.

By the way, I’m not recommending being insincere. I’m just
recommending looking for good stuff. =)

Tip for effective selling, which you probably already know but which
I am writing down anyway because it’s good exercise for me: =)

Make the people from the other company believe they’re special. Make
them feel that you’ve heard about them before and have been looking
forward to working with them. Of course, you don’t want to be _too_
much of a suck-up, because then the deal might become disadvantageous,
but a little flattery doesn’t hurt. =) Check out the company’s
reputation. Companies like thinking that they have a reputation (good,
of course). This kind of background research also helps you figure out
what designs might appeal to your clients, what kind of information
they need posted.

It’s hard to do that kind of research on the Net, considering your
clients usually haven’t gotten around to making a website yet. So how
did they find out about us? Probably through good old-fashioned
networking. Because of the high turnover in the advertising industry,
some of the people working at the web design company I recommended had
probably worked with us on projects before. They might’ve looked
through our promotional literature, or at the very least know people
who know us. They mentioned stuff that wasn’t on our website, but
which characterized the company. That was their edge. Adphoto didn’t get a
generic presentation—or at least Adphoto didn’t get a presentation that
_felt_ generic.

If you have a particularly important deal to close, learn as much as
you can about the other company. That way, you can make them feel that
you aren’t just giving them a generic template. You’re custom-building
something that fits their company. You understand how they think, how
they work. You know what they need. They can trust you.

Your research doesn’t have to be exhaustive. You just have to know
more than they expect you to. Find out what they’re proud of, and
bring it up. Find their good points. Who are their clients? If you can
find out without them knowing that you found out, well and good. If
not, you can ask them if they can name a few clients so that you have
an idea of their audience. Remember to be a little impressed. =) It’s
easy to be impressed when your client has big clients, but don’t
forget to look for something to compliment even when you’re working
with a small company. <grin>

This is like the magic a good cover letter can do for a resume. It
probably won’t save a horrible resume, but a good, _personalized_
cover letter can make a difference when two people’s qualifications
are roughly equal. Make your clients feel good. =)

In the end, you _can_ still base your designs on generic templates,
but I suspect that a few well-placed compliments and mm hmmms will
make your clients feel they’re special. When you have happy clients,
they’ll not only use you for larger projects, but also happily
recommend you to their friends. <grin> You know that already, though.

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