Are you in the business of helping small business owners market themselves? A good place to start could be hair salons and spas. They tend to be a little more “cutting edge” (heh.. pun intended..) and may see the vision you paint more clearly.
Before introducing yourself through a form letter, cold call or face-to-face meeting, get the owner’s name first! If I’m a business owner and I get a form letter addressed to “To Whom It May Concern”, I’ll pitch it into the trash and likely forget about you within 10 seconds. If you actually do show up–and if I actually remember you–I’ll see you as the lout that sent the form letter.
You can get the owner’s name easily enough. In many places, business entity registrations are public record and often available online; you just need to know where to look.
Worst case: Call up the salon and simply ask the front desk for their mailing address. You need it in order to mail them a package (if they ask, it’s regarding their marketing plan.) Once they give you the mailing address, your question is “Whose attention do I send this to?” which you can follow up with “Are they the owner?” If they’re not, simply ask for the owner’s name. Most folks will give you that information by this point in the dialog. I definitely would not send anything without getting the owner’s name. You may as well throw your stamps and envelopes into the trash yourself and save everyone the time, effort and interruption.
Better: Get your hair cut there. (Think of this as a marketing expense.) The owner is also often working in the business. Call up to make the appointment and when asked who you would like to have cut your hair, simply respond with, “The owner.” Then get their name, of course. Show up to your appointment on time and dressed for success. Get a simple trim or whatever is appropriate. Make friendly chit-chat (stylists are artisans at making small talk) and–if the question of what you do for work hasn’t come up yet–eventually ask about how business is going. Most small businesses can handle more business and since you’re in the business of helping achieve that, you use that as your segue into, “Have you ever thought about ___________?” Have some case studies and stories to tell. Whatever you do, don’t pitch them. Your mission is to ask questions and tell stories. If they’re interested, they’ll say so and it will be a reflection on the value in your dialog; not in a sneaky pitch.
By doing this, you’ve skipped the cold, cheesy form letter, brought value to your time with them, gotten their undivided attention and, hopefully, gotten a good haircut in the process.
About Matt Schoenherr
Matt is a husband, father of four, marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Ideas 101. As a student, teacher and published author, Matt supports the worthy goals of service and commerce in the small business and nonprofit communities. You may find him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Creative marketing ideas and marketing strategies may be found at MarketingIdeas101.com.