The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Knock On Doors #atozchallenge

Knock on the Door
Knock on the Door (Photo credit: Sharon Mollerus)

          Back to the subject of initiating contact.   Doing promotional work online, by mail, or even by phone are relatively easy non-confrontational ways of reaching out.  These methods don't require meeting people face-to-face.  You don't have to fix yourself up or buy a nice new outfit.  When you are using these methods you can sit at home in your pajamas all day and no one will know the difference.  It's a safe way of getting yourself known to others.

          Still, the old fashioned notion of pounding the pavement and getting your foot in doors can have a big plus side.  Sure, it's a lot more effort.  You have to dress up and leave the house, but is that really a bad thing?  

           Let's say you've got your new book published or a product that you've developed and are trying to market.   A personal sales pitch with product in hand is tougher to turn down than a random phone call or internet contact.   You might be nervous at first, but after a few tries the personal calls should get easier.

           Walking into a place of business and shaking someone's hand gives you a better opportunity at establishing a rapport that can serve you well in the future.   You have a better idea of seeing what their business is about and can even get to know them as friends.

           Many years ago when I was managing a wholesale distribution company we had an 800 number where the stores who purchased from us would call in to place orders and we would ship them via UPS.  This worked well for everyone concerned until UPS went on strike.

           We began shipping via mail and Fedex for most accounts, but I decided to take a different approach with my customers within a 100 mile radius.  I decided to use my van to deliver orders to those customers.    When I had a "route" established for each following day, I then called other customers in the areas where I would be delivering to see if I could get orders from them.  Many of these customers hadn't ordered for a good while, but most of them thought of something for me to drop by to them.

         This plan allowed for me to meet customers with whom I had only spoken to on the phone and to see what their businesses were like.   I gained a far better understanding of what they were doing and we got to chat in person.   My extra effort was something they appreciated and it gave them more confidence in our company as a supplier that cared about our customers.

          An extra effort gets noticed.    An impersonal faceless contact can be easily forgotten, but the tangible experience of opening the door to a real person when they knock carries more impact.   It may take you out of your comfort zone, but after a while you should get comfortable knocking on doors.  And you might find the change of scenery to be a lot of fun as well.

          Have you ever done route or door-to-door sales?    What advantages can you see in making personal contact in marketing efforts?    Is there something you've accomplished by knocking on someone's door? 

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  1. Very good "K" word and post Lee.
    I have never done knocking on doors sales but I suppose there's always a first time.
    Enjoy your week-end.

  2. I believe this is how Stephen King started out. His door-to-door sales of 'Carrie' paid off.
    Hopefully I'll get into print this year and I intend to drag some books around, especially to various sales outlets.
    Good way to meet people.

  3. Maybe selling Girl Scout cookies way back when will actually provide useful experience someday...

  4. Door to door? Absolutely no way would you get me to do that. One time in Blue Birds (age 5 or 6) I had to sell candy to raise money. My mom took me to some houses and I abjectly refused to get out of the car. I think I sold 3 bars of it, just to my family.

  5. Not since high school. I did do phone calls for the Republican party one summer. (Not fun.)
    While I wouldn't be comfortable doing it, there is something to be said about personal contact. You can't read someone completely online or even on the phone. But all the nuances of communication come through in personal contact.

  6. It's hard to do the initial knock. Putting myself out there and the fear of rejection usually keeps me from taking that giant leap. Great K post I look forward in reading more.

    stopping by from A-Z

  7. Good post Lee - it's certainly a valid point in a lot of cases. I did door to door selling of both Encyclopaedias and Insurance when I was younger - terrible experience! However, I do find that a direct approach, by phone at least, has much more of an effect in my line of work than email.
    <a href = "> Fil's Place - Old Songs and Memories </a>

  8. Yvonne -- Visiting a few little shops to have them put up your book on consignment might help.

    Fanny -- I imagine that King knocked on few agents' doors.

    Sarah-- Any sales experience can teach us something.

    JoJo -- I was like that when I was a kid and I still wouldn't be thrilled about going door to door.

    Alex -- I think trust can be confirmed better by looking into another persons face and watching their body language.

    Vanessa --- Personal contacts get easier as you make more of them.


  9. Fil -- Email can be very awkward with more miscommunications. At least on the phone one can explain themselves better and answer questions immediately.


  10. Just last month, one personal contact led to three book events, which led to my books going up on another Indie bookstore's shelves. Online is wonderful, mailing is wonderful. Shaking someone's hand and exchanging ideas in person, is fabulous.

  11. I am not really a knocking on doors sort of chap, more a hide behind them sort of chap......

  12. Thanks for this encouraging post . . .as I venture out today for a reading. Marketing or writing. Oh, there's an easy choice, but one publicist said if you spend 70% writing, then go ahead, dedicate 30% to marketing. Every day. Your easy, clear style makes that 30% manageable. And maybe fun.

  13. I want a door like that one, please.

    Knocking on real doors would be very hard for me. On virtual doors, not so hard.

    Reaching out via blogs is do-able. If we only wait for someone to come to us, as one blogger told me that she wondered how many would come to visit her blog. I reminded her it's a two way street. Not sure if she got the message. The effort has to be there.

  14. C.Lee -- It's great when the marketing outreach snowballs through connections.

    Rob -- Those little peepholes on the door can come in handy to screen out everyone you want to avoid.

    Beth -- I think marketing can be great fun. And the end result of marketing efforts can be so beneficial.

    DG -- It took me a couple months of blogging before I discovered that 2 way street and it does work.


  15. I am working on my list to hit up potential local book stores and coffee houses to sell and for book signings.

  16. Helping my daughter with girl's scout cookies id the only door to door experience I have had.

  17. Stephen Tremp was doing some of that with his second book last year. He was selling quite a few that way I recall.

  18. 'My extra effort was something they appreciated and it gave them more confidence in our company as a supplier that cared about our customers.'

    That is so you, Lee. I can see that perfectly.

  19. I think that's great. You bring the product to the people. I did this with a play I wrote, Coffee Shop Confessions. We performed it right in the coffee shop. People said it was like going out for coffee with a friend, and they were eavesdropping on us!
    Play off the Page

  20. Sydney -- Good idea. Even if you don't sell any in some stops it can all be chalked up to experience and getting your name out there. It's nice to get out of the house anyway.

    Munir -- Many get their start doing things like that. Girl Scout cookies is a great product to sell.

    Jo -- Steve's done some real go-getting and that's what it takes.

    Suze -- I like to please people, especially when it's related to my business.

    Mary -- Sounds like a more refined version of guerrilla street theater. How cool.


  21. As a kid I used to love the Fuller Brush man. The samples were my favorites. The milk man used to leave chocolate milk samples too. Miss those days.
    Katy Did

    Life's Ride In Between

  22. When I get my book finished, I'm having a book signing at Taco Bell and giving free coupons to first 50 buyers. That is where I do a lot of my writing!
    love, LinnAnn

  23. I do tend to stay in my pajamas more than the average bear:) When I worked as a drug rep/scientific consultant, I had to knock on a LOT of medical doors. Which was fun, because it almost always led to catered lunches:)

    Echoes of Olympus
    A to Z #TeamDamyanti

  24. " An extra effort gets noticed. "
    I think this is totally true. In many businesses it will mean personal contact but for some people it would turn out to be the other way around. I'm personally an introvert and I don't appreciate when people come to my door un-announced. But everybody likes the extra mile. Some personalisation or proof that they paid attention when we met.
    Andrea, #atozchallenge Mighty Minion Asset

  25. Personal contact as well as internet contact would work best for me. I definitely would be scared to death of cold-calling someone over the phone.

  26. KT -- I never got any chocolate milk samples, but I was also intrigued by the Fuller Brush Man other similar types who used to call on us.

    LinnAnn -- That is a very unique idea. Innovation can come up with a lot of ideas.

    Sam -- Hard to beat a free lunch!

    Miss Andi -- I don't like the idea of going around to peoples' houses, but I think businesses are used to personal visits.

    Inger -- I used to have that same fear of phone cold calling and I've done it a lot in my life. It's funny because it seems like it would be the easiest way of making contact. But it's also easy for people to just hang up on you or lash out into you. Phone is weird sometimes.


  27. Back when I was in Cub Scouts, we used to have a fund-raising thingy where we went to people's houses to stuff out of mini-general store style of box. Beyond that, no door-to-door sales.

    A-Z Challenge at Father Nature's Corner

  28. I visited several libraries and bookstores while promoting my book--it was a very scary experience! Sadly, not sure it translated to a huge # of sales, but every one helps, I guess!

    Visiting from the A to Z Challenge signup page. Great to meet you!

    Stephanie Faris, author
    30 Days of No Gossip

  29. I'm pretty much bad at knocking on doors. I don't like to impose myself on someone else's precious time. But I know it's a necessary thing when trying to get published, and even if you're self-publishing.

  30. I've done or been involved with face to face (with appointments), blind cold calls, phone sales and via direct mailings. I think people who've never been involved with sales, would be surprised to know that it only takes a very small percentage of successful attempts to make money. It's an interesting way to make a living and most folks aren't cut out to do it (including me).


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