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Monday, March 17, 2008

Canvassing works, but . . . (2) poster "Vinylguy" appears to be associated with American Dream Vinyl Company in Central Pennsylvania. This company's outbound canavassing system is combined with an effective website -- useful both for recruiting canvassers and reinforcing the company's credibility in the selling process.

This current thread, Canvassing Does Work, on reinforces the potential and immediate lead-generating power of door-to-door canvassing. Tbe powerful, immediate impact of hard-rock, in-your-face marketing is hard to deny and I suppose is undoubtedly a better way to go if your business is struggling than conventional advertising, leads services, or waiting for your phone to ring.

However, someone else posted in a separate thread: "Does anyone know how to obtain a do not call list. Also, I have trouble motivating my telemarketers and canvassers, anyone have any advice?" Susan Betz, of Fences of Distinction in Ocala, Florida, responded:

I dunno about motivation. I hate cold-calling. I think most people find it one of the most depressing, soul-less ways to sell. I understand the statistics of it, but it's still not the way I like to do things.

I agree -- both with the thread-starter who urged businesses to consider canvassing, and Susan. The challenge is to find the right balance between assertive and permission-oriented marketing and the answer, for most of us, is an effective system of client referral/qualification with outbound selling and marketing initiatives that are respectful of the people to whom we are trying to reach. The balance depends on what we are selling, and our objectives.

If your product/service has a wide consumer-market range, and you play the numbers game, cold calling and canvassing of course are effective. But this seems a really dumb way to go if you need to reach/serve a much more modest group of powerful decision-makers and influencers, especially in the business and government sectors. Blasting through lists with a canned presentation is hardly the way you are going to win multi-million dollar commercial contracts.

As an example of this balancing differentiation, consider the process of marketing canvassing consulting services. Are these best sold by cold calling, or by references on internet forums like or , for that matter, this blog?

Or, as another example, consider Destination Clubs, the recurring vacation offshoot of the timeshare. My wife signed up for the High Country Club because of communications on this Internet Forum; she also used the forum to find the rental car company, and we received consistent advice on how to avoid the pushy timeshare salespeople in their special room (through which you must pass) at the Puerto Vallarta airport. In our household, at least, door-knocking canvassers, telemarketers, and virtually any form of 'in your face' marketing will have the exactly opposite effect desired -- we'll close our minds to doing business with you if you try it with us. (And yet, I receive surprisingly few really valid and thoughtful inbound sales calls; ones where the person with a product or service truly relevant to me actually takes some time to know/understand my business before making the inbound call; to which I will listen with courtesy and respect.)

Yes, canvassing works, but I urge you to consider the overall framework and attitude of your business in setting up this kind of (literally) in-your-face outbound system. I tend to share Susan Betz's attitude -- It's simply not the way I like to do things.

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