The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has been in effect for about a month now and causing headaches for small businesses that do their prospecting and marketing using e-mail.
Unfortunately many of these businesses aren't sure what to do now that they are prohibited by law to contact anyone through the use of a commercial electronic message (CEM) without express or implied consent.
Sales professionals don't want to pick up the phone and make cold calls because they feel uncomfortable and they don't have a strategy in place to bring new prospects into their sales funnel. Marketing professionals who used to send out newsletters and e-mail blasts to lists of prospective clients can't even do that.
So what can small businesses do to continue their prospecting and brand awareness activities? Below are two strategies that I've been using to get around CASL.
Tug of war strategy
If you want to win a game of tug of war, get more people on your side to create momentum that pulls everyone to you. Take this same philosophy to your sales and marketing activities.
Start with your strongest element: compelling content. It should be informative and pertain to your client's industry, line of business, or role. Craft a piece of content that speaks to either of those elements and use it as the foundation for your marketing and sales efforts.
Examples of content could be a top ten list, case study, template, white paper, webinar, live presentation, or infographic. It doesn't matter what it is, just start by creating something of value for your client's marketplace.
Once the content is created, have your sales team pitch the content to prospects and see if it is something they would like to consume? While sales is taking the more direct approach, marketing needs to pull others by putting that content behind a landing page and encouraging people to download it through the company's website home page, blog and social media accounts.
This approach is great for sales because it gives them something to sell that doesn't require them to ask for anything besides an e-mail. This approach also makes cold calling much less stressful because they're not asking for anything; instead they are giving something of value away!
After this first touch point, sales can follow up with the prospect by e-mail or by phone to discuss the content and how applicable it is to their business.
There's a marketing adage that states "content is king and distribution is queen…and she wears the pants." In other words, you can develop great content but without distribution channel in place, you have very little chance of growing because no one will see it.
Distribution is critical if you want to be successful at bringing more prospects and the way to do that is through partnerships.
Far too many businesses tackle their sales and marketing efforts alone, which makes for a difficult battle when it comes to growth. So to get around this, seek out partnerships with companies who operate in your marketplace but don't offer a competitive product.
Let's say you're a technology company that specializes in the agricultural industry. It's your job to find other companies that work in this arena who could partner with you to increase distribution. Look for service providers, product companies, or associations that all focus on or work with the agriculture industry.
Bring the content you develop from your tug of war strategy to partners who can then bring it to their own clients and members. If the content is good, your partners will have no problem sharing it with their network. And if it's really good, their network will want to exchange their e-mail addresses in exchange for that piece of content.
Warning 1: The idea of hustle and consistency is highly underrated. You can have the best strategy to achieve your growth objectives but without hustle and consistency you won't get great results. Build a process around tug of war and power partnerships, and be sure you're executing on a new piece of content every month. Through consistent effort you can generate a list of prospects that you can build relationships with over time, but you need to remember to stay consistent in your efforts.
Warning 2: Keep in mind that the world is getting overrun by content. To catch a reader's attention, it should be hyper-targeted by industry, role, and trends facing your client's marketplace.Don't put out just any content: Get to know your marketplace, understand the challenges they are facing and develop something that will bridge the gap between the problem they are having and the solutions you provide.
Ryan Caligiuri is the president of Ryan Caligiuri International, a consultancy focused on driving revenue growth through creative growth strategies for professional services firms. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network, a program that provides sales/marketing resources & training to help grow professional services firms.
Follow Ryan Caligiuri on Twitter: @RyanCaligiuri