No matter what their field, most entrepreneurs know what rejection feels like. You keep getting vexed by the executive assistants, your emails go unresponded to for weeks and months on end, and you've been transferred to everyone in the department but the person you need. Getting a foot in the door now requires much more effort and creativity. The gimmicks and tricks don't work anymore. So how's one supposed to get that meeting with the Mark Zuckerbergs and Warren Buffets of the world? Try Contact Marketing.
Stu Heinecke: How to Get a Meeting With Anyone
Contact Marketing is a methodology coined by Stu Heinecke, author of How to Get a Meeting With Anyone. The Wall Street Journal cartoonist and Hall of Fame-nominated marketer is turning traditional marketing techniques on their head. Contact Marketing is all about showing the human side of sales. Through highly personalized campaigns, Heinecke was able to achieve unheard of 100% response rates to high end clients. We caught up with Stu about his journey of turning his childhood passion into a lucrative lifestyle.
Stu Heinecke: How to Get a Meeting With Anyone
What was your introduction to cartooning?
As I kid, I remember writing a book of cartoons. Really, they were drawings and some captions, but there was nothing funny about them. I always loved cartooning, and—you're going to love this—my big introduction to cartooning was when my brothers and I used to sneak Playboys out of our father's dresser drawer. There were these beautiful cartoons done by Gahan Wilson, Michael Ffolkes and others. They were just incredible, so as a kid I was thinking, "How cool are these people? How do they do this?" That's probably the thing that lit the fuse for me.
Then, during my final year of college, a friend of mine who was also interested in cartooning told me about this extension course he was taking in cartooning at UCLA with Eric Teitelbaum, one of The New Yorker cartoonists. Lee Lorenz came as one of the guest speakers. Lee was the cartoon editor at The New Yorker at the time. And it just got me to think, "I can do this."
When did you make the connection between cartooning and marketing?
There was one really big moment for me. When I was coming out of college, personalization was just becoming a force in direct marketing. By then I was a member of the Cartoonists' Guild and the Cartoonists' Guild was sending us all this information about cartooning. Usually, it's about rejection slips. But one of the things they sent was a copy of an article from Folio, which said that cartoons are the best read and remembered part of anything they're in editorially. That certainly points to the fact that they have to be really powerful devices in marketing. So I wanted to mix cartooning with personalization and direct marketing. They all came together at just the right time.
For the first two assignments that I picked up, I wanted to create direct marketing campaigns for publishers, because at the time, they were the biggest, most sophisticated users of direct marketing. I reached out and I got two assignments pretty quickly, one from Rolling Stone and the other from Bon Appétit. Both of these test pieces went up against controls and beat them. It's like a rookie stepping on the field and hitting a home run twice.
Was it luck or was it science?
Well, some of it was luck. There's always luck. I was lucky to connect with them, and maybe fortunate is a better way to put it. David Ogilvy, one of the original thought leaders in marketing, used to say that humor doesn't work in marketing and advertising. All the pundits of direct marketing say the same thing: don't use humor. And I thought, these guys don't understand what's going on. They don't understand that cartoons are the best read and remembered parts of anything they're in editorially. Imagine what they'll do in a stack of mail in people's houses?
Now that those two campaigns beat controls, I wanted to spread this to the rest of the publishing world. What that meant was I needed to connect with about two dozen VPs and Directors of Circulation at these big Manhattan-based media outlets. You know, Time Inc., Condé Nast, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes—really tough kinds of companies to penetrate. In direct marketing, you used to hear, "if you can get a 1% response rate, you're doing well."
But if I got a 1% response rate to this campaign, that would be a disaster, because I'm only going to 24 people. 1% of 24 people doesn't even amount to 1! I needed to get through to all of them. Another thing that we're always told by the experts is that 100% response rates were impossible as well. But I didn't care. I was just going to mount this campaign, because I needed to break through to those VPs and Directors of Circulation. So I put together this campaign. It was an 8 x 10 print of a cartoon, each one personalized to each recipient, with a letter saying, "This is a device I just used to beat the controls for Rolling Stone and Bon Appétit. I think we should put this to the test for your titles." That little campaign for those 24 people cost me less than $100, and not only did it get me a 100% response rate, but a 100% conversion rate as well. It was worth millions of dollars, and it all came from this little, unusual campaign. I called it a contact campaign because I didn't know what else to call it. That's what started it all.
What would you say is wrong with modern sales techniques?
If you listen to the experts, they're going to say, "You didn't do your homework. You need to know what I'm doing, what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking about." I think that's unrealistic. You can study my Twitter and Facebook feeds, but how would you know how I'm feeling? Or some would say, "At least find out what school these people went to and send them a t-shirt from their school or something." I don't need a t-shirt from USC. I got tired of those while I was there a long time ago. I think it's a little disingenuous.
I was just interviewing Mark Hunter, a very prominent keynote speaker and trainer on sales, on Contact Marketing Radio (my show) and [the topic was]: Is cold calling good in sales? Is the role of a salesperson dead, dying, extinct? Because a lot of people will tell you it is. And he said, "Absolutely not." If you have a solution that could help someone, why wouldn't you call? Where sales is mostly going wrong is in manipulation. A salesperson might call up and say, "Hey, Stu! How's it going, buddy? This is Jerry, remember me?" "No, I don't remember you." I think those kinds of approaches are not good.
What you really should be doing is listening, not talking. People have said, "You haven't earned the right to pitch me yet." I think you need to create some bridge of trust that's very hard to do quickly. That's actually the role of contact marketing. When I send a cartoon piece for my clients about the recipient, usually we're assuming that they'd like to see a cartoon that commemorates their success in business. If they see that it's funny and that one of the characters in the cartoon is the butt of the joke (and you can imagine that that butt of the joke is their competitors), that's something people are going to love. A lot of times the reaction is, "I really like the way you guys think." By the time you get on the phone, they say, "I don't know what you sell, but I need it. I need your thinking." I think then, you've just won a major battle. The bigger battle is making the sale.
What are some of the mistakes that people make when sending pitch emails to CEOs?
CEO is a euphemism. It's the Center of Enterprise Opportunity. As Anthony Iannarino likes to say, "reach the CEO of the problem you want to address." It's not always the Chief Executive Officer. C-level executives are busy. We know their time is tight and they're well-protected. We know that a lot of people are reaching out to them as well. How about trying it early Saturday morning or Sunday evening? That's a good time to reach out to someone directly. Their inboxes aren't as full as they are during the week and you don't have secretarial screening, so timing is a device to use.
Another is brevity. Keep it absolutely short; let's say a dozen words or less. Write it so it has the recipient scratching their head saying, "How would you do that?" Make sure you know it's of value to the person and respect their time.
Stu Heinecke: How to Get a Meeting With Anyone
Can anyone do contact marketing?
I should make a distinction here that contact marketing isn't just about cartooning. That happened to be my introduction to it. There are a lot of ways to create these connections. To write the book, I interviewed the top 100 sales bloggers in the world and asked them, "When you absolutely have to reach someone who's of great importance, and someone who's nearly impossible to reach, how are you doing it?" They shared all these different stories and techniques, and I ended up with 20 categories of contact marketing campaigns in the book. These range in cost per contact from $0 (social media, email, and so on) all the way up to $10,000 per contact. That one was a contact letter that was produced as a full-page ad and run in the Wall Street Journal to reach Larry Ellison. And it worked!
There are all kinds of gift strategies. One that you commonly hear about is "half a gift," so you send half of a gift and promise the other half when you meet. Typically, let's say it's the left shoe of a nice pair of shoes, and you bring the other shoe when you meet. There's this kind of corny message of, "I just want to get my foot in the door."
Then there are interesting ways of using events and media exposure. If you're offering someone media exposure, you've got a pretty good chance of getting them on the phone and spending some time with them. Interviews are a great way to bond with someone pretty quickly that you otherwise didn't know.
In the book, you'd find all different kinds of strategies and tactics that you can use to break through. And you don't have to be a Wall Street Journal cartoonist to pull it off.
Stu Heinecke: How to Get a Meeting With Anyone
Want to find out more about Stu Heinecke's innovative contact marketing methodology? Check out his book, How to Get a Meeting With Anyone.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.