How To Find Your Starving Crowd: Cold Email Advice Inspired By Gary Halbert

By: Jack Reamer |
 July 12, 2016 |
Gary Halbert’s a copywriting legend. Every self-respecting copywriter I know practically worships the guy. (No exception here.) Born June 12, 1938. Passed away April 8, 2007, just shy of his 69th birthday. He worked deep inside the direct marketing world in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He was famous for making prospects open his letters by taping dollar bills or bags of sand on the inside of the envelope — then making you read the entire enclosed 12 pages and place an order. Because remember, back in those days, it was “salesmanship via snail mail.” Anyway, here’s my favorite piece of marketing advice from the guy:
As you may or may not know, every once in a while I give a class on copywriting and/or selling by mail. During these classes, one of the questions I like to ask my students is: “If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?” The answers vary. Some of the students say they would like to have the advantage of having superior meat from which to make their burgers. Others say they want sesame seed buns. Others mention location. Someone usually wants to be able to offer the lowest prices. And so on. Whatever. In any case, after my students are finished telling me what advantages they would most like to have, I usually say to them something like this: “O.K., I’ll give you every single advantage you have asked for. I, myself, only want one advantage and, if you will give it to me, I will (when it comes to selling burgers) whip the pants off all of you!” “What advantage do you want?” they ask. “The only advantage I want,” I reply… “Is… A Starving Crowd!” Think about it. When it comes to direct marketing, the most profitable habit you can cultivate is the habit of constantly being on the lookout for groups of people (markets) who have demonstrated that they are starving (or, at least hungry) for some particular product or service.
So. How can we translate this sage-advice from the medieval days of direct mail to cold email? It’s not hard. It’s really just list building 101. Don’t just think, “where can I buy a list of 5,000 business owners.” That’s a rookie mistake. It much more important to ask, who are the people that need my SaaS product more than anyone else on earth? Who are the ones that are losing sleep because of a problem that my SaaS can solve? My favorite approach is to start by identifying target companies. Then find the best people to contact inside those companies. How do you find the best companies to reach out to? Narrow them down by industry, size, location, technology, who they’re hiring, how many followers they have, content they publish, conferences they attend, products they sell, what they’re working on… Lots of ideas here. Then narrow down by target contact inside your “target company.” Think: job title, keywords/skills, school, seniority, function, blog posts they’ve liked, things they’ve retweeted, article’s they’ve written, recent activity on LinkedIn, etc.. Your prospects out there leaving a trail of breadcrumbs on the internet. It’s up to you to do a little detective work and find your “starving crowd.” Thanks Gary.