Worried it’s not the right time to start a business, because you don’t have a large enough market? That doesn’t have to stop you.
Even in a small market, you can find some traction by identifying the strongest prospects, nurturing the relationship and delivering solid value to establish your authority before pitching.
Let's say you only have 1,000 prospects in your market. How do you cold email them so you get the maximum number of deals out of it?
On this episode of The Cold Outreach, a weekly podcast with advice and hacks for cold emailing success, hosts Jeremy Chatelaine and Jack Reamer shared some tips for approaching a limited market and getting results.
Step one: Determine where to put your efforts so you’ll have the most impact.
Thinking back to that theoretical list of 1,000 prospects: Find the top 20% of those 1,000 — the 200 who are leaders or influencers in the market — and connect with them first. Their feedback and your relationship with them will be valuable to get your foot in the door with the other 80%.
You could identify these influencers by looking at conferences in the market and noting the top speakers. Who do people seem to flock to?
“You know at this stage that your thing is working, it's closing some deals,” says Jeremy. “There may be a good way to leverage that and really reinforce your presence on the market.”
You can also get a lot of value from viewing someone’s LinkedIn profile. Depending on your market, perusing LinkedIn can reveal a lot about who’s active in the industry, connected with a lot of people or running a professional website, for example.
Before you send any emails, build your network. Connect with the people in your market using Facebook, existing contacts, LinkedIn invites, Twitter or even ads.
“Given this mindset,” says Jack, “that changes things. I would be comfortable with reaching out to almost anyone, because there's nothing to get burned on. You're just getting feedback genuinely.”
As you interact and build the relationship, start with learning, not selling. If you reach out on LinkedIn, for example, engage there to learn about who they are and what they value, not to make a pitch.
That’ll help you be extra prepared before reaching out. When you’re dealing with a small market, you can’t afford to burn through contacts. Research prospects carefully, and know which value propositions and CTAs will resonate with them.
Your first outreach shouldn’t be a pitch, but instead offer some kind of value. One idea: Start a Facebook group to help people in your market network with each other. Or share a report that showcases your authority.
Give your prospect as much value as you can while establishing authority in your industry. That will set yourself up for successfully pitching them later.
One of the toughest things about working with a small market is simply getting your foot in the door. Once you do that, keep the door open by maintaining contact and building that relationship with each prospect instead of burning through prospects one at a time.
Don’t rush into pitching! Approach this small market humbly, with a focus on learning. You only have 1,000 prospects, so you should give each one your all.
If you contact 20 people a day, that’s about two months of just making initial contact. That’s the round of just engaging, learning, and providing value. Take about another two months to simply continue to add value and gain additional understanding.
By this time, you’ll establish authority in the space, earn trust in your network, and provide enough value that when you reach out to offer a demo or set up a meeting, prospects should be happy to give you the time.
“If you built something of value that they maybe haven't seen before, they can plainly see how they would be crazy to turn it down,” Jack says, “they're going to ask you, how do I pay for something like this?”
With such a small market, you can’t afford not to use multiple channels before sending a cold email. You need to warm up prospects through networking before trying to sell anything, because each of those emails is really important.
Connect with prospects first through Facebook groups, LinkedIn messaging, Twitter communication, Facebook ads or a phone call.
Use this initial contact just to get to know them and their business, understand their pain points and needs, and establish yourself as an authority in the industry. You can offer a free demo and ask for feedback.
Once they’re warmed to you and your business, they’ll welcome your pitch when it comes.
Finally, once you start emailing, keep a close eye on deliverability and open rates. You don’t want to burn through 150 prospects and find out your emails have been bouncing or going to spam.
Use open tracking for all of your emails in this first market to easily keep track of how you’re doing.
“You have a limited number of opportunities,” Jack points out, “and deliverability is going to ensure that, technically speaking, you're doing the best job of pitching and getting these replies generated.”
You can also afford to take the time to be super personalized in these emails to hopefully boost your open and response rates.
A version of this article was originally published at Cold Email Blog and was updated and republished here with permission.