In 2014, I listened to two episodes of Tess Whitty’s podcast Marketing Tips for Translators that got me thinking about the whole “warm e-mail marketing” idea. Tess interviewed Joanne Archambault about marketing to direct clients that you can’t meet in person and then interviewed Ed Gandia about his warm e-mail marketing system, including his online class on the topic. I’ve always been a bit wary of e-mail marketing (seems spammy, hard to find the right contact person, hard to know what to say), and I’ve generally stuck with letters, postcards, in-person networking and referrals to find my direct clients. But these two podcast episodes made me think a) maybe it’s just that I’m approaching e-mail marketing in the wrong way, b) it’s good to evolve and try new things and c) now that I travel for the ATA Board, I have less time to travel to client conferences, so e-mail marketing might be worth a shot.
First, I downloaded Ed’s free cheat sheet on warm e-mail marketing. The whole idea, drastically simplified, is to send short, highly personalized e-mails to potential clients, and to hopefully create a meaningful connection that might lead to some work. The concept appealed to me, so I signed up for the next session of Ed’s warm e-mail marketing class. Again, I was a little skeptical: I’m not a huge fan of pre-packaged online classes where there’s no interaction with the instructor, but the registration fee of under $200 was low-risk, and I forced myself to carve out the time to listen to all of the audio lessons over the course of a couple of weeks. Then, it was time to give the system a try.
My first two e-mails were to potential international development clients who had recently won a big contract involving French-speaking countries; I felt positive about what I wrote, but got no response from the recipients. But I forged on, surmising that I needed to send at least 10 e-mails before I could get a representative sample. My next e-mail was to a publishing house that I’d contacted a couple of years ago with a book translation idea. At that time, the publisher was interested, but the foreign rights arrangement was complicated and the project ultimately fizzled. Flash forward to a few months ago, when I read an excerpt from an interesting book by a French author, and out of curiosity I went to her website to learn more about her. Whoa; right there on the “News” page, the author (whose books are selling really well in Europe), stated that she was actively looking for an English-language publisher, and her books struck me as being right up the alley of the publishing house I’d contacted back in 2012. So, I composed a warm e-mail to my contact person, along the lines of, “I’m not presuming that you’d hire me, but here’s a potential translation that looks like a great fit for your audience.”
Within a day, I got a response from my contact person, saying that she’d look into the book I had suggested, and that as luck would have it, the publishing house had just acquired the translation rights to another French book on a similar topic, and would I be interested in submitting a sample? Well, right there, I knew that the time and money I invested in Ed’s class had just paid off: I had resisted the urge to write a long e-mail, to be overly self-promotional, or to just ping my contact person for no apparent reason (“Got any work for me?”). I had shared a piece of useful information, and it had really paid off. So, I’m excited to say that I submitted a sample, the publisher was happy with it, and I’m now under contract to translate the book between now and May…at which point I can tell you the details instead of referring to the project in veiled terms! But the point being, give warm e-mail marketing a try…