Thursday, October 11, 2007

Technology for Client Development, Part 3: Word of Mouth eMail

The “killer-application” for the Internet was, is and will be e-mail. Andy Sernovitz is CEO of GasPedal, a word of mouth marketing consulting firm. He’s also author of the “hot and sexy new book” (his description) titled Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking and publisher of the BLOG titled “Damn I Wish I Thought of That.”

Andy is a prolific networker. As evidence, a couple of years ago his LinkedIn profile showed that he had accumulated 890 contacts on the networking service. He must be well over 1000 by now. Actually, it may be too many. His LinkedIn profile cautions visitors:

I get 10-15 requests a day, and there is no way I can forward them all. I am
very selective about which requests I forward. Here's how I choose:

1. I must know you and the recipient well, and I must feel there is a good match.

2. No 3rd or 4th degree referrals. I'll match friends, but I won't ask my friends to pass along notes.

3. The request has to be for something very specific that I can recommend. No generic "I want to meet you" networking requests.

Regardless, LinkedIn isn’t his primary tool. E-mail is Andy’s main leverage. He says, “I’m a big believer in the basics. The consulting company that I founded, GasPedal, originally had a large client list and an enormous network but was a tiny firm. But, people thought we were a huge company. Why? I databased everyone I ever contacted and sent a weekly e-mail newsletter out to them. It was no more than 400 words each time but it allowed me to reach so many more people than I could ever call.”

As your client development efforts broaden, however, ad-hoc e-mails to current and prospective clients may not be enough. Take a look at Constant Contact ( which helps professionals to digitally maintain relationships with a large list of constituents on a regular basis. One of my clients couldn’t figure out how a tiny competitor was managing to send out substantive monthly e-mail newsletters. I looked at the newsletter and was not surprised to see Constant Contact powering it. Constant Contact is a web-based email marketing service that offers a relatively low cost (about $30/month), bubba-proof way to build and manage permission-based (meaning you aren’t sending unwanted solicitations to people you don’t know) email lists, create and send e-mail newsletters, announcements and promotions and track e-mail campaign results. While e-mail is a fast and inexpensive way to communicate with clients/prospects, the benefit is partially negated if you have to send out the communication one-by-one to a big list. Note: if you came to this content by way of an e-mail outreach from me, Constant Contact powered it. Whether you use Constant Contact or some other tool, find some way to lessen the load.

Another Internet tool on the rise is Plaxo ( This free service boasts over three million users. Plaxo keeps people connected by addressing the common and frustrating problem of out-of-date contact information. The web-based program securely updates and maintains the information in your address book. While Plaxo delivers no more content to your constituents than a simple request to verify contact information, it is at least one more positive touch point – a “hey, I’m thinking about you” type of touch. And, Plaxo users seem to be amazed that even that simple touch can rekindle revenue-generating dialogue.

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