I was speaking to a prospective client a few weeks ago.
He had created a new web app for plumbers and electricians that looked really cool. It would save them many hours finding jobs, and it had loads of useful features like project management, invoicing, etc.
It sounded great.
He was planning a cold email campaign to reach out to prospects. When I asked him about his plan, he explained how he would initially send out cold emails to plumbers telling them all about his new app and its free trial.
So far, so good.
While I tend to focus more on newsletters and marketing emails, I've enjoyed a lot of success with cold campaigns, so I was interested.
Here's a brief version of how the conversation went:
Me: How many emails will you be sending?
Me: And how many of them are you expecting to sign up?
Client: All of them.
I explained that he would be very, very lucky to get more than a handful of people signing up.
He baulked at this. He explained once again that it was free to sign up and the app would save them loads of time.
I couldn't argue with that. It was free. And it did look like a great tool. But I knew then and there that I would not take on the job unless he drastically changed his expectations.
Here's a summary of what I said to him:
You may have the best product in the world. It may save plumbers hundreds of hours and make them lots more money. Once they start using it, they may not even remember how they survived before it came along. But this doesn't matter, because:
This was unacceptable to my prospective client. I was a copywriter, after all, and it was my job to get the prospects to sign up.
For something that is useful AND free, this shouldn't be hard to do.
I knew that I wouldn't be able to change his mind, so I politely declined the project.
Why I had to disappoint him
Cold emails can be great. I've got a lot of new business for myself and my clients using cold emails.
But they work best when you have a large number of targeted leads to contact and when you have a follow-up system in place.
Sending one email to a small group of potential customers will rarely lead to amazing results.
People often forget this when sending emails. Replying to emails is so easy, after all, and it only takes a click.
Yet so many recipients will never reply, no matter how good the offer is – and that's if they open the email in the first place.
I'm sure I could have encouraged a few plumbers to try out the service, especially with a few follow-up emails.
But simply sending off a single email and expecting 100% (or even 50%) of recipients to jump at the chance is unrealistic.
Sometimes it's good to disappoint
So yes, I'm happy to disappoint my clients when it means they can avoid wasting their time and money.
And if it ends up with me missing out on a job, I have absolutely no problems with that.