Episode 78: Stu Heinecke
Stu Heinecke is a Wall Street Journal Cartoonist who has become an expert in what he calls Contact Marketing. That is getting in touch with a small group of high-profile people to help improve your business. He has recently written the fantastic book, How to Get A Meeting With Anyone.
How did a cartoonist end up writing a marketing book?
Stu has always had a dual track on his career. He was educated in marketing and did cartoons on the side, but ended up becoming a cartoonist as his main career. Then he ended up using custom cartoons to introduce himself with contacts at magazines who he wouldn’t normally get access to.
What would you say to someone who says that it is easy to get meetings with people if you can create cartoons, what about the rest of us, what can we do?
Stu had some success with two magazines using his cartoons for their marketing efforts, Rolling Stone and Bon Appétit magazines. However he wanted to expand his business but there were only 24 other magazines he could approach. He knew that typical marketing returns were 1%, and for 24 people that wasn’t even one person. He was told 100% response rate was impossible. What he did was he created 8 by 10 inch print cartoons personalised for each of his contacts and sent them the cartoons. He achieved a 100% success rate. Often with Stu’s cartoons, they are put on display for long periods after the initial gift, improving the credibility he gets within the organisation.
When he looked into it, he found that lots of people were using similar techniques using items apart from cartoons. For example they sent iPads pre-loaded with a video and in one case even a pigeon to get through to these hard to contact people.
You have to audacious in your approach to reach these people.
What in your opinion is the difference between someone using a stunt to try and arrange a meeting with someone and the more refined content marketing approach?
If it is a campaign then it can be reproduced and it shouldn’t have a severe risk of a negative reaction. For example parking in a CEO’s parking space has worked, but risks you ending up being towed away or arrested.
Why is it important to ensure you have a good relationship with someone important’s assistant?
So many people call them admin or gatekeepers and they are seen as someone to avoid. Stu says that a lot of the time they work as a talent scout and it is important to make a positive connection with them. He calls them the “Vice-President of Access”. He calls them and then tells them he is going to send their boss a cartoon, and wants them to be prepared. Once the assistant is on-side it makes it way more likely the approach to the boss is successful.
What is the cheapest contact marketing approach you have seen used, and what is the most expensive?
For free you can use e-mail,social media or phone connections to people. Timing is important here though – e-mail on Sunday evening or Saturday morning and keep them very cheap.
For $10,000 a client wanted to get in front of Larry Ellison at Oracle. What the agency did was to put a full page advert in the Wall Street Journal. This campaign got the business about $3m in business.
A risky but interesting attempt was where a software company was trying to sell to large company. He couldn’t get the purchasing department to respond. He tried contacting the CEO, but he couldn’t get through to him either. So he posted a pigeon in a box and asked the CEO to attach a note with his favourite restaurant and a time on it. The CEO responded and the salesman got the business.
How can people find out about you, your books, your businesses and your cartoons?
You can follow Stu on Twitter at @byStuHeinecke. He has a marketing agency the Contact Marketing Agency. He has three books out, Drawing Attention, Big Fat Beautiful Head: A book of cartoons by Stu Heinecke and the book this interview is based off : How to Get A Meeting With Anyone.