July 24

Marketing Lessons from a War Vet


I remember the drive as if it was yesterday. It was my first big ‘sales job,’ selling industrial air filters to hospitals, office buildings and schools. After a few months, I was having a lot of early success. My territory was from Washington, D.C. to Ocean City, MD (or 2000 square miles!) Basically, my boss said go wherever you want to, just sell!

So there I was driving from Georgetown Hospital (huge contract) to Ocean City to meet a management company that bought and serviced ALL the hotels in that area. This was a potentially HUGE contract for me. I remember taking my shirt off completely and changing into gym shorts to avoid sweating through my button-down and slacks:  my ’86 Honda Civic, with the hockey puck shifter, did NOT have AC.

I got there in just under 4 hrs, dried off, and hit myself with a stick of deodorant. The man with the big contact was named Sarge Garlitz (I kid you not). His office was in the basement of this crappy hotel, covered in war memorabilia from his time in the military. The first thing he said to me was “Hey you’re young, don’t call the cops…I’m smoking in a non-smoking area.”

Over the next few weeks he ran me around town, measuring every HVAC unit he took care of, and as a young guy I hated it! I wanted to get in there, measure a few things, bang out a price sheet, then close him. After a few unwise complaints about all the seemingly stupid work, he flicked his cigarette into the ashtray on his desk, looked me in the eye and said ‘Brad quit being a punk. You know how much money I can make you over the  years if you take care of me? A LOT. I could have bought from you simply because of your price, but if you actually put forth the effort I’ll buy from you over and over…so shut-up, get back out to the Empress Hotel, you screwed up the basement unit.”

What did I learn? You’ve gotta treat leads for the LONG TERM if you want them to payoff.

The same SHOULD be true with how you’re treating your new leads. So what are some easy steps you can apply to your new lead funnel?

1. . Put together an autoresponder “Welcome” series

It’s amazing how many people think the free offer, or free newsletter that people sign up for, is enough. Sending them what they requested doesn’t mean your job is done! Write, or have written for you, an email series just focused on introducing yourself or your company. Make the emails personal and focus on building the relationship.

2. Put your best offer forward

If you have something to sell, or want them to take action on, start with whatever has the HIGHEST conversion rates. If your ‘call us to hear about the next Google’ gets people to call in and make contact DO IT! If it’s a free trial, or 7 dollar offer that’s getting the highest conversion, then share it with them. After the welcome series people will know you and trust you (hopefully ;)) then they’ll be open to hearing about your best offer.

3. Don’t forget about value!

Congratulations…hopefully by now you’ve built a solid relationship, showed them your best offer, and made some money! Phew we’re done…NOPE!

Now’s the time to keep giving them value. Just because they didn’t buy right away doesn’t mean they won’t buy at all! Remember you’ve built the relationship based on quality and value…keep up your end of the bargain. You owe them, and it’s YOU who has to earn their business. It might not come in the first month, heck it might not come in the fifth, but if you keep that relationship going with value and quality products…YOU’LL SELL THEM!

Are you getting to work yet?

If new leads are coming into your system and you’re not doing the above, let me know so I can SHORT YOUR COMPANY 😉

Kidding of course, but what tricks do you have for building a relationship…and do you think it’s worth it???


P.S. Sarge turned out to be a huge client…who did make me some great money over the next several months!


email marketing, learning from elders, Relationships

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  • Brad,

    Great article I appreciate the advice. I think we need to remember that our leads are people and we should treat them how we want to be treated. When I buy something I take the time to make sure the person I buy from is legitimate so I think we should expect people to do the same thing before they buy for us.

    I believe that if you focus on people first you will be very successful in the long term.



  • Nice article. Finding the right balance between free valuable content and promotion is always tricky. If you provide too much valuable free content it becomes harder to convince them to buy. Do you typically suggest clients pitch a paid service/product right away or recommend offering a few valuable nuggets before promotion?

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