Leveraging Facebook for Permissions…

  • January 28, 2016

12140818_f520I’m sure most of you are familiar with the term cold-calling. Back before cellphones and social media, the sales tactic was a lot more prevalent. I remember my parents leaving the phone off the hook during supper time, because those quick-talking life insurance salesmen would call at the exact moment we sat down to the dinner table. (Did I mention this was before caller id? Wait, is caller id still a thing? Let me clarify for the younger millennials…. because apparently, I’m still considered a millennial. Back in the day, there was no way of knowing who was calling–which is why the cold-calling method worked.)

On the occasion that someone answered the phone–expecting to gossip with a neighbor or discuss a homework assignment–these scripted sales aficionados launched into a spiel to sell life insurance or magazine subscriptions… or a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to sunny Cancun, Mexico. As I recall, they always talked really fast–reluctant to take a breath and give anyone a chance to interject. My parents eventually gave me responsibility to wield the phrase: “Please take us off your call list.” Before that, it was simply: “I’m sorry, my parents aren’t available right now.”

imagesThose were the good ‘ol days of cold-calling. Now, cold-calling is more of a technique than a literal approach. As a matter of fact, I recently read an article that claimed cold-calling was dead. I beg to differ. As someone in the marketing field, I can tell you that cold-calling is very much not dead. Cold-calling is simply evolved and reinvented. Since the days prior to caller id, cold-calling is now defined as “a technique whereby a salesperson contacts individuals who have not previously expressed an interest in the products or services that are being offered.”

Now, hang on just a second. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great, Jocelyn, but what does this have to do with metal detecting?” The art of cold-calling has almost everything to do with metal detecting. (Perhaps, you remember that post I wrote about selling yourself to obtain a permission? Cold-calling is an element of sales and marketing.)

So when you finally muster the courage to approach the owners of your unapproachable permission, you are cold-calling. You are contacting individuals who have not previously expressed an interest in the services you provide. This variation of cold-calling might be slightly less annoying than hearing the phone ring every time you sit down for supper, but its still the same thing.

One of the most annoying qualities of telemarketers was their knack for calling at the absolute worst possible time. You’re stepping into the shower, phone rings. You’re sitting down for your favorite television show, phone rings. (FYI Early Millennials: There was no DVR back then.) You’re kids are chasing each other around the yard with improvised stick swords, phone rings. Telemarketers were–and sometimes still are–downright annoying. Don’t be a telemarketer. When you set out to obtain a permission, avoid catching property owners at an inconvenient time.

How do you do this? Easy. I’ve learned to approach property owners while they’re shoveling their driveway, raking leaves, weeding the flowerbeds, mowing the lawn, or getting the mail. If they’re already outside, your chances of interrupting them at an inconvenient time are slim to none. This may be less convenient for you–having to wait until you catch them outside–but your chances of botching the permission are a lot less.

UntitledIn the event that I get bored with stalking my potential permissions and driving by their house every hour on the hour, I’ve learned to combine the power of county GIS with Facebook. For those of you who haven’t heard of county GIS… its basically like the best thing ever. GIS stands for geographic information system. In the old days–probably around the same time as cold-calling–you would need to contact the county office to inquire information on property owners. Now, you just google “<<insert your county name here>> <<state abbreviation>> GIS.” There you have it. At least, hopefully you have it. Depending on where you live, some counties aren’t up with the times.

The various mapping sites–depending on county–operate differently, but they all serve the same purpose. Using satellite imagery–similar to google earth–you are able to zoom in on a property and click for information. The information will likely include the name of the property owner, acreage, parcel number, and sale price. I usually only use this tool for the name of the property owner. Then I stalk them on social media and send them a private message. Fortunately, Facebook recently changed their messaging policy. A few weeks ago, messages from strangers were filtered into an other inbox. Now, the stranger gets a notification that they’ve received a message.

As you recall, I’m not opposed to attempting new strategies… Granted, some have backfired: There was the time I sat at the bar hoping to strike up metal detecting conversation, the time I wrote a fantastic letter and never received a reply,  and then there was that time I was greeted by a strung-out heroin junkie after knocking on his door. This new gis mapping/social media strategy works for me. I’ve actually obtained a few permissions, subscribers, and friends.

If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it works out. If you decided not to give it a try, just remember not to be an inconvenient cold-caller.