Every week I get multiple requests for favors.
* Internet marketers asking me to promote their product to my list.
* Authors asking me to read and give them a cover blurb for their book.
* Copywriters asking me to refer projects that I can’t do to them.
* People selling professional services who want to be listed on the recommended vendors page of my website.
While I want to be helpful, I don’t always have the time or the motivation to assist everyone who asks for it. And I know my peers have the same problem.
So if you want to ask strangers for professional favors, here are some tips for going about it:
1. Be concise.
I typically get e-mail requests that are 10 paragraphs and could have been expressed in one sentence.
Ask me the favor in a sentence or two. Don’t give me your life story or the background of every event leading up to your request.
2. Ask permission.
Don’t send your book, DVDs, audio CDs, or other physical products to anyone for review without first obtaining permission.
If I get a book I didn’t agree to receive, I throw it in the trash, as much as it pains me. Even though I love books, space in my office is limited.
On the other hand, if after reading your e-mail request I ask for a review copy, send it promptly.
3. Show me how you know me.
Mention any mutual colleagues or acquaintances. If you read my newsletter or books, say so. Same deal if you’ve been to one of my seminars or webinars, or if you buy my information products.
4. Give a reason why.
If you want me to promote your product to my e-list, tell me why I should do so. For example, you cover a topic that my readers would be interested in and that I don’t cover in my own product line.
Do you want me to refer to you copywriting assignments I turn down? Dozens of newbie copywriters have already asked me. Why should I pick you?
5. Offer an incentive.
When my colleague CM was promoting a $5,000 marketing boot camp, he offered me $1,000 for every seat I sold to my subscribers. That certainly got my attention.
While I don’t take referral fees for recommending vendors to my clients and prospects, a thank-you note is a nice gesture.
6. Don’t brag.
Some who want me to promote them or their products attempt to convince me by going on endlessly about how great they are.
Bragging turns me and many other people off, so I advise against it.
If you want to brag, show me some testimonials from your customers who say how great you are.
7. Don’t pester.
The people you petition for favors are extremely busy. Don’t send an angry follow-up e-mail complaining that they didn’t get back to you. They are not obligated to do so, though it is certainly polite to do so. Remember, the deal is much more important to you than it is to them.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.