Joanna Coles’ new book, Love Rules, is a handbook on finding love and meaningful personal relationships in a digital age. Similar rules can be applied to business relationships and to building a successful and meaningful work life. Over the next few weeks, Erin Gargan, Amazon best-selling author of “Digital Persuasion: Sell Smarter in the Modern Marketplace” and award-winning CEO of Socialite Agency, a social media firm, will be our guest blogger, connecting the dots and sharing her advice on building meaningful business relationships in the digital age.
You’ve probably heard the timeless advice: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” We KNOW this to be true. So why do most of us still do it? Maybe you struggle to resist your sweet tooth and wonder why you can’t lose those stubborn five pounds? Maybe you go back to a toxic relationship, repeat old patterns, and relive the heartache over and over again? As Joanna Coles advises in her new book, Love Rules, you need to do something different to get different results!
We’ve all told ourselves this is the time we will start or stop doing something (starting tomorrow, of course).
How we choose to behave in our professional lives is no different. Getting stuck in the same old patterns can slow, or worse, completely BLOCK your success trajectory—particularly when it comes to business development in today’s modern marketplace.
I learned this to be true the hard way and repeating old professional patterns almost brought down my entire social media marketing enterprise.
It was a deceptively gorgeous Friday morning in Laguna Beach, California. Sitting in my beautiful white office, I could see through the open window a little sliver of waves crashing and a light, salty breeze flowed in. I took a sip of my Tazo Zen tea and began checking my email. Suddenly, everything became the complete opposite of Zen. My point of contact at our then biggest client (a global financial brand whose card you probably have in your wallet right now) had decided to leave. She was moving on from them and, ultimately, her company decided to move away from us.
Not renewing a contract of that size was a devastating blow for my agency. Payroll was coming up, ocean view office rent was due, and our business bank account was steamrolling towards the red. We needed new clients and revenue YESTERDAY. If you’ve ever experienced the threat of failure on that scale, you know it is one powerful motivator. I was in pure survival mode. So, I decided to spray and pray.
All week I copy and pasted my old, trusty message from a few years ago to hundreds of random people I found on LinkedIn in an effort to find someone to hire us:
Hi XXXX – Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Erin, the CEO/Founder of Socialite Agency.
We are the only social media agency in the world specializing in social media management for large conferences, trade shows and events. We help brands like The Oscars, ABC/Disney, Hitachi, Siemens and others to amplify their events to the world using the power of social media marketing.
(Insert three paragraphs of bragging about our great work, our great services, and how we great we are HERE)
Please let me know if you’re available to chat tomorrow or Thursday afternoon around 10am PST.
How many responses would you guess that message earned me in a week?
One? Maybe two? Nope. If you guessed zero, you’re right. That’s because my message wasn’t just a lame email—my message was a MeMail.
noun – Self-centered, generic, classic salesperson social spam.
But that was the classic sales formula I had learned, the one I had always sent, and the one that everyone else sent me! The way buyers use social media and make digital decisions has changed more in the last five years than the last fifty, yet I was still deploying the same old, tired approach.
I went back to my inbox hoping upon hope that I’d see a response from a big fish just dying to sign a contract for Socialite to help them with a massive event. C’mon Olympics! C’mon Super Bowl!
I scrolled, scrolled, scrolled, and suddenly, three words popped out of the screen at me: “Hitachi Healthcare Caution.”
Hitachi Healthcare was, at the time, our second-biggest client. If anything happened to that account, my agency would have to close up shop and it would be back to the job board for me. To say that this message got my attention was an understatement.
In a panic, I Googled the supposed Facebook update the sender was warning me about and, sure enough, he was dead on. I quickly modified the settings on our social software program so that our client wouldn’t be affected, dodging a huge bullet. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Somewhat calmed, I turned my attention back to the sender, Dan. Who is this guy? After Googling him, I found that he worked for a social media management software provider. I messaged back a thank you and gave him my number to set up a meeting then went back to brooding over my current dire situation. Why hadn’t anyone responded to my outreach all week? What was I going to do?
Wait a minute.
It suddenly hit me that the interaction I’d just had with Dan was the exact interaction I was trying to spark with my own outreach efforts. I’d responded to his message and he’d successfully set up a sales meeting with me, his prospect! Had he just digitally persuaded me? How had he been able to do it when I hadn’t been able to get anyone to respond to my outreach?
Intrigued, I stared at the sales message I’d been sending out all week. Then I studied Dan’s message. His two sentences had been more successful than my multiple paragraphs.
That night, I dug through my inbox re-reading every message I’d ever responded to. Why had those messages worked and mine hadn’t? How had these people persuaded me to respond while my messages got crickets? Was there a pattern to these successful messages? Was it something I could do, too?
The answer was yes. And once I figured out the formula, I broke my old copy and paste patterns and developed new digital business just like Dan. The clients came in, I was able to rebuild my business and my agency came roaring back to life.
What patterns are you stuck in with your sales or marketing efforts? If you’re honest with yourself, are some actions a little too copy-and-paste comfortable? Look for success patterns you observe in others that you might be able to learn from and apply to your own strategies.
Erin Gargan is an award-winning entrepreneur, Amazon best-selling author, and digital persuasion expert. She sold her first two companies, Jump Digital Media and PMS.com before the age of 30. In 2010, she founded Socialite Agency, a social media firm whose clients include The Oscars, ABC/Disney, VISA, Target, Siemens, Hitachi and others. She is the author of Digital Persuasion: Sell Smarter in the Modern Marketplace. Erin helps sales, marketing and event professionals attract attention and increase influence by becoming more effective digital communicators.
Joanna Coles, Chief Content Officer, Hearst Magazines; Board of Directors, Snap Inc.; Editor-in-Chief, Cosmopolitan (2012–2016), is now an Exclusive WSB Speaker. Click here to learn more.