Cold Email Targeting: Finding the Right People to Target

There’s a woman who sits outside my local Whole Foods with a cooler by her side. Propped up against the cooler is a sign with “Tamales” scribbled on it in big block letters.

“Tamales, tamales!” she calls out as people walk by. And it works – people are often handing money over when I see her.

The fact that she’s sitting in front of Whole Foods is genius, because there are two things we can glean about most Whole Foods shoppers:

  1. They’re not price sensitive
  2. They’re already thinking about food

Now, I’ve never bought tamales from her, but plenty of people have and swear that they’re delicious. What she understands about sales is essential to any outbound campaign you may plan now or in the future:

Sell food to people thinking about food.

I recently ran a sales campaign to monetize my podcast, which is a polite way of saying “sell ads.” I’ll be writing over the next few days about how I did it and what I learned.

The first challenge with selling ad inventory was that I’m not a household name. Not like the doctors from Botched or Dr. Pimple Popper are in my own home.

So I’m selling ad inventory on a podcast that a potential advertiser is unlikely to know about. They may not know about me, they may not know about the podcast.

What I know is that a hungry person somewhere will gladly buy food. Which is to say: what kind of company is most likely to sponsor a podcast?

The first thing we need to understand is how podcasts work. People mostly listen while they’re doing other things, and listeners are quite loyal. While they may be multitasking or distracted, they keep listening to episode after episode. And they didn’t ask to hear a specific ad when it plays – they only signed up to listen to a podcast. They know advertising may be part of the experience, but they weren’t actively seeking it.

The big idea here is that podcasting isn’t a great direct response medium, especially on a niche B2B show like mine. It’s better for awareness and brand building for companies who want to access the curated audience I built. Only people interested in actively improving sales strategy and skills would listen to my show. And what kinds of potential advertisers care about such things?

Ones that have high-enough CLV (customer lifetime value) and are selling sales-related products and services. If a company has a CLV in the 5-figures or above range, they don’t need to see a lot conversion their bet to pay off. In fact, the risk/reward is pretty obvious for them: they make a small bet with marketing dollars and, worst case scenario, get exposure to a group of listeners that are more or less the perfect audience for them.

Just like the woman selling tamales, the key to my campaign was selling food to the hungry people. You may know this concept as relevance.

Pick a particular tactic and you can be sure that someone has already declared its downfall. Cold email is dead. Cold calling doesn’t work. LinkedIn is over.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Reaching prospects with a sales message is as old as civilized society. The only thing that’s changed is how we reach them. The key isn’t the channel, the key to it all is relevance. Doing the work first to understand your prospect and her motivations, her options, her opportunities, and of course her pain goes a long way to increase the potency of your message.

I ultimately set my sights on companies with 50-500 people who are selling software for salespeople, and have a strong online marketing presence.

And that was the key to my campaign: selling food to hungry people.

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