Put Away Your Shotguns

shotgun shells Marketers and PR humans: is it *really* working? Is shotgunning your target still giving you the results you need? Have you figured out that what works in one arena doesn’t work in another? I promise, this will only hurt a lot.

Stop. Shotgunning. Me.

“What set Brogan off?” I know you’re wondering. I’ll share.

I just got about 700 words or so from a company that will be exhibiting at a conference I’m attending next month. It was a big fat blurt. We do this. We’re awesome. People say this about us. You can do this, this, *and* this with our product. We’re offering a drawing.

I mean, this individual threw the entire marketing/PR clichebook into one email. Vast in its depth.

Thoughts for Improvement

I know there are two schools of thought in messaging media:

  1. Hit them with everything in one big fat email (as above).
  2. Go gently into a new relationship. See if I’m going to care.

I get that #2 takes a bit longer. I understand that. But if you’re going to reach out to the folks actively spending time in the social media space, you might learn how to get involved, build relationships, and market to us in a more personal style.

Read up a little bit about blogger relations. Learn from experts like Susan Getgood and Brian Solis and Lee Odden (and dozens more). Learn WHO you’re pitching, even just a little bit.

And please put down the shotguns.

Am I wrong?

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Photo credit, SC Fiasco

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  • http://innovationCreation.US john blue

    took me a bit to see what those colorful items were in the pic! At first I thought they were crayons hahaha.

    Guilty of this I am. The quick hit and the feeling of “I have accomplished something” is easy and great. Building up a network of truly interested people takes time. In some industries there is still the focus on numbers and quick action, from customers and service providers. Sending one email is easy and you can report “I just reached out to 30,000 people about my product in ten minutes” to those in charge.

    When you say “Today I connected with 10 people and learned their interests in our product, why they don’t buy, and what they told their friends” this changes what you talk about with your customers. There are still lots of conversations needed to spread the word that shot gunning as an action is more negative than positive.

  • http://innovationCreation.US john blue

    took me a bit to see what those colorful items were in the pic! At first I thought they were crayons hahaha.

    Guilty of this I am. The quick hit and the feeling of “I have accomplished something” is easy and great. Building up a network of truly interested people takes time. In some industries there is still the focus on numbers and quick action, from customers and service providers. Sending one email is easy and you can report “I just reached out to 30,000 people about my product in ten minutes” to those in charge.

    When you say “Today I connected with 10 people and learned their interests in our product, why they don’t buy, and what they told their friends” this changes what you talk about with your customers. There are still lots of conversations needed to spread the word that shot gunning as an action is more negative than positive.

  • http://originalcomment.blogspot.com John Johansen

    I recognize that this is a frustration. It’s one that I fight against myself.

    And, to peer behind the curtain a little bit, let me just say that your two schools of thought may not be entirely accurate.

    Now, I’m not trying to defend poor marketing practices but the assumptions in your 2nd point include a marketing process that is tracking people with some granularity. In an ideal world, it’s true that marketers would have a clear picture of who their new leads are, what information they were interested in on their initial contact, and how they want to be approached in future contacts.

    Sadly, most of the time you are going to be tossed into the database with everyone else. Pulling you back out for specific messages will likely be done based on demographic information, or potentially your initial lead source.

    But factors like recency, frequency of communication, or interest in the topic are likely to be overlooked.

    With all those factors in place, it leaves marketers with the lone choice of sending a big, fat email and hoping it has enough content in it to be relevant to the wide swath of people receiving it.

    This is why the trend towards data capture and analysis are so important to marketing. The better we can understand customers behavior and expressed interests, the more we can narrow the segments and provide relevant messages.

    I’m hopeful that as customers continue to apply the kind of pressure that you’re applying, marketing will speed up their move towards a better system.

  • http://originalcomment.blogspot.com John Johansen

    I recognize that this is a frustration. It’s one that I fight against myself.

    And, to peer behind the curtain a little bit, let me just say that your two schools of thought may not be entirely accurate.

    Now, I’m not trying to defend poor marketing practices but the assumptions in your 2nd point include a marketing process that is tracking people with some granularity. In an ideal world, it’s true that marketers would have a clear picture of who their new leads are, what information they were interested in on their initial contact, and how they want to be approached in future contacts.

    Sadly, most of the time you are going to be tossed into the database with everyone else. Pulling you back out for specific messages will likely be done based on demographic information, or potentially your initial lead source.

    But factors like recency, frequency of communication, or interest in the topic are likely to be overlooked.

    With all those factors in place, it leaves marketers with the lone choice of sending a big, fat email and hoping it has enough content in it to be relevant to the wide swath of people receiving it.

    This is why the trend towards data capture and analysis are so important to marketing. The better we can understand customers behavior and expressed interests, the more we can narrow the segments and provide relevant messages.

    I’m hopeful that as customers continue to apply the kind of pressure that you’re applying, marketing will speed up their move towards a better system.

  • http://rebelzen.com Seamus Anthony

    Totally. I won’t name names but there is one fairly well known independent music and book business guru who has never acknowledged any of my attempts to communicate, but has seen fit to reply to my emails with an unrelated mass-marketing-style sales pitch email. Bah, I say, Bah and Phooey too.

  • http://rebelzen.com Seamus Anthony

    Totally. I won’t name names but there is one fairly well known independent music and book business guru who has never acknowledged any of my attempts to communicate, but has seen fit to reply to my emails with an unrelated mass-marketing-style sales pitch email. Bah, I say, Bah and Phooey too.

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  • http://blogs.nortel.com/buzzboard/2008/08/08/bbc-tests-out-100gig/ Bo Gowan

    Don’t be too quick to blame that individual. Being a former “PR guy” I know that many times there is a ton of pressure on the people doing the actual outreach to “hit everyone.”

    Most PR people with even a little experience quickly learn the value of building a relationship over time, and how little return you get from blasting out massive pitches on a daily basis, but they sometimes don’t have the final word on these types of things.

  • http://blogs.nortel.com/buzzboard/2008/08/08/bbc-tests-out-100gig/ Bo Gowan

    Don’t be too quick to blame that individual. Being a former “PR guy” I know that many times there is a ton of pressure on the people doing the actual outreach to “hit everyone.”

    Most PR people with even a little experience quickly learn the value of building a relationship over time, and how little return you get from blasting out massive pitches on a daily basis, but they sometimes don’t have the final word on these types of things.

  • http://www.lithium.com Scott Dodds

    Exactly Chris! As John Johansen states, it is likely that you were just tossed into the database with everyone else. But is that really the impression they want to be leaving? I think marketers like this would benefit greatly by asking themselves first “what kind of relationship am I hoping to build?” That should drive what methods and tools they employ to build that relationship.

  • http://www.lithium.com Scott Dodds

    Exactly Chris! As John Johansen states, it is likely that you were just tossed into the database with everyone else. But is that really the impression they want to be leaving? I think marketers like this would benefit greatly by asking themselves first “what kind of relationship am I hoping to build?” That should drive what methods and tools they employ to build that relationship.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com Adam Singer

    I agree, but also you can earn permission to send the same message to a bunch of people IF you’re sending it to a group that has opted in to your messages and you’re building upon a previous relationship.

    In this case, they may want to receive your news because they dig your brand. I may be proven wrong, but so far I haven’t gotten complaints from something I’ve been doing, and it is yielding success.

    It is not blind shotgunning though, it is sending to people who (i hope) want to receive it.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com Adam Singer

    I agree, but also you can earn permission to send the same message to a bunch of people IF you’re sending it to a group that has opted in to your messages and you’re building upon a previous relationship.

    In this case, they may want to receive your news because they dig your brand. I may be proven wrong, but so far I haven’t gotten complaints from something I’ve been doing, and it is yielding success.

    It is not blind shotgunning though, it is sending to people who (i hope) want to receive it.

  • http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet/ Guy Martin

    I agree 1000% Chris. I actually tend toward longer-term professional relationship building. One of the big ones I think some people forget is your relationships with vendors/sales people.

    I got my current job at CollabNet largely because of a previous relationship I had fostered and maintained with a sales person who is now the VP of NA sales here. Relationships I fostered with other vendors are now also paying off in helping bring their companies to the table in partnership with my employer.

    When I approach new relationships of this kind, I always try to remember everyone’s favorite radio station (WIIFM) – ‘What’s in it for me?’ (both for me, *and* for them).

    It does floor me that, as you pointed out, people still try to take the shortcut to relationship building. I do think though, that it makes those of us who try to do the right thing stand out a bit more, so I guess that’s the positive side of it! :)

  • http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet/ Guy Martin

    I agree 1000% Chris. I actually tend toward longer-term professional relationship building. One of the big ones I think some people forget is your relationships with vendors/sales people.

    I got my current job at CollabNet largely because of a previous relationship I had fostered and maintained with a sales person who is now the VP of NA sales here. Relationships I fostered with other vendors are now also paying off in helping bring their companies to the table in partnership with my employer.

    When I approach new relationships of this kind, I always try to remember everyone’s favorite radio station (WIIFM) – ‘What’s in it for me?’ (both for me, *and* for them).

    It does floor me that, as you pointed out, people still try to take the shortcut to relationship building. I do think though, that it makes those of us who try to do the right thing stand out a bit more, so I guess that’s the positive side of it! :)

  • http://www.weinkrantz.com Alan Weinkrantz

    HI Chris….good points.

    Here is what I do:

    1. Read the blogger’s blog.
    2. See if it’s a fit and if the blogger we are pitching is focused on the subject and not writing once on the subject.
    3. Continue to read the blog for a while and show it to the client.
    4. Then I do a short intro. Something like: “Hi Billy-Bob, my client XXX, does XXX and we think this would be a good fit for you because you cover XXX as well. Any chance we could schedule a short call?”
    5. That’s it. It’s no different with industry analysts. Long before the bloggers became a big deal, I pitched analysts the same way.
    6. I target the right analysts and bloggers the same way. Treat them like humans, respect the fact that they are really busy and pitched way to much, and think about the long term and not the need to placate the client by thinking that spamming you to death will work.
    7. Last of all….you may be a right fit. And your client may have the right thing for you, but sometimes the timing is just not right. So, give it a rest and then circle back to the blogger (or analyst) a few weeks later.

  • http://www.weinkrantz.com Alan Weinkrantz

    HI Chris….good points.

    Here is what I do:

    1. Read the blogger’s blog.
    2. See if it’s a fit and if the blogger we are pitching is focused on the subject and not writing once on the subject.
    3. Continue to read the blog for a while and show it to the client.
    4. Then I do a short intro. Something like: “Hi Billy-Bob, my client XXX, does XXX and we think this would be a good fit for you because you cover XXX as well. Any chance we could schedule a short call?”
    5. That’s it. It’s no different with industry analysts. Long before the bloggers became a big deal, I pitched analysts the same way.
    6. I target the right analysts and bloggers the same way. Treat them like humans, respect the fact that they are really busy and pitched way to much, and think about the long term and not the need to placate the client by thinking that spamming you to death will work.
    7. Last of all….you may be a right fit. And your client may have the right thing for you, but sometimes the timing is just not right. So, give it a rest and then circle back to the blogger (or analyst) a few weeks later.