A major stock brokerage of national repute hired a staff of tax shelter experts. Equipped with this new body of expertise, they were now ready to market it. But who comprised the market? And how were they to be reached? Income level is no indicator, because a family could be earning $ 150,000 a year and still not have a nickel to shelter. Savings is no indicator because a family could have $250,000 in savings but either not earn enough to shelter and/or have so many tax deductions that the income doesn't require shelter. Yet, the stock brokerage knows that there are at least 50,000 families in any decent-sized community that require tax shelters and don't know how to go about getting them. So they asked those families to identify themselves; they advertised a free seminar in the daily newspaper. It was given at a famous hotel on a weekday evening. I attended that seminar to research the brokerage's marketing technique. Three hundred middle-class and upper-middle-class couples showed up. An impressive array of written material was distributed free of charge at the registration desk. But I had to register to get the material and gain entrance to the seminar - name, address, and phone number.
The seminar was excellent. It consisted of four experts, each lecturing for thirty minutes on his particular aspect of tax-sheltering; oil drilling, limited partnerships, real estate, etc. No hard sales pitch was made. Attendees were invited to stay and speak further with any of the lecturers privately. The following Tuesday morning I received a phone call at my office from the brokerage; and then the sales pitch commenced. They were not calling cold! I had expressed prior interest by attending their seminar. I had identified myself. I had even psychologically obligated myself by attending their free seminar. I could not hang up on them. I had to listen to what they had to say.
Pay careful attention and you will notice that this brand of modern two-step marketing is being practiced everywhere by successful professionals. There are a number of means of accomplishing this two-step process. We shall discuss all of them in turn, starting with the effective one just described.
As a consultant, you usually address an executive with authority fairly high up on the corporate ladder, in many cases the C.E.O. himself. So the longer your seminar, the less likely his time constraints permit him to at-tend. Your free seminar should never take longer than two hours. It should be held during the working week and the working day. The invitation should be in the form of a robo-typed letter that has the appearance of a personal invitation; most word processors are equipped to do this well. You can expect a 5 percent response (attendance) if you address yourself to a particularly vital current problem of your industry or profession.
In most cases, your attendance should not exceed thirty people (600 letters). The attendees must register. Your lecture must be highly informative so that the prospective clients understand how expert you are in your field. All questions must be answered in a forthright manner without holding back.
A number of attendees will approach you after your lecture to exchange calling cards, ask about your fees, attempt to get you to answer problems, attempt to discuss matters outside the parameters of your lecture, and even set up private appointments with you. And these, of course, are part of the pay-offs. Be certain that everyone leaves with your brochure and any other printed material you have that gives testimony to your expertise.
Within two weeks call the attendees personally on the telephone. Now they are not strangers. Now they will take the call. Now you have their attention. Ask whether they found the seminar helpful and whether you may be of further service to them via a no-obligation exploratory personal meeting.
Should you wish to offset your seminar costs or even make a profit on it by charging a goodly fee, OK. But bear in mind that you will cut your attendance considerably and that your original purpose was to have as many people as possible identify themselves as those in need of your consultative advice.
Editors of professional or industrial periodicals in your field are in dire need of the information you have to impart. Here again, you select a current vital problem and discuss it in full-this time in writing. If current enough and cogent enough, your submission will undoubtedly be accepted. Since most publications do not pay for these submissions, they "atone" by fully describing your credentials in the most laudatory terms. Readers will respond, either to you directly or via the publication. This brings clients to you.
How do experts position themselves so that they are quoted by radio and TV commentators as well as by newspaper and magazine reporters and columnists? Do you ever wonder about this? I wondered about it, learned how they did it and became notable, and quotable myself. This brought countless clients to my door.