(c) Robyn Smith, 2016
Have you ever started a project with great gusto, only to be knocked down before you even get off the ground?
How do you react?
It’s tempting to give up and simply “cut your losses” early. I know; I’ve been there.
Thankfully, I also know the benefits of perseverance – a key to many success stories.
The following (true) story is my encouragement for you to persevere…
So we’d published the first three of our quarterly newsletters. The company we wrote for was happy with us, but we knew a contract renewal would require more than “warm fuzzies”.
We set out to get real feedback.
Putting together a makeshift survey, I obtained a list of customers to call and ask opinions. I had a list of a dozen – about 10% – just to get a feel for popular opinion.
Feeling good about the product, I proceeded to dial the first number with optimism.
A lady answered.
I began enthusiastically:
“Hi, I’m Robyn Smith. I work in conjunction with JLH services and wondered if you might have 3 minutes to answer some questions about our newsletter.”
“Newsletter? What newsletter?”
This. Was. Not. the way I was hoping to start our survey.
“Popular opinion” and renewal of services between my company and JLA’s suddenly looked very gloomy.
I tried to recover courageously, and courteously promised to mail out another for review.
“So watch for it!” I said as cheerfully as possible.
I hung up, feeling anything but cheerful.
What had I done! The company knew I was making the phone calls and they were expecting to hear the results. Certainly the outcome would affect the course of our future relationship.
I felt devastated.
I would have been okay with, “Well, it’s okay, but the articles are a little long”, or “I don’t really have use for the calendar” (a point of differing opinion between me and my highly respected mentor).
But, “What newsletter?”?!
This was not good.
Still, I had agreed to call the others, so after some ice cream and a self-pep-talk, I took a deep breath, said a short prayer, and dialed.
“Hi I’m Robyn Smith working in conjunction with JLA services. Do you have a couple free minutes I could ask you some questions about our newsletter?” (Holding breath and wincing slightly for the punch.)
“Sure! What would you like to know?”
“Uh, well, you do receive the newsletter, right? From JLA services?” I ask incredulously.
“Yep, I just got the latest one the other day`” (So he even knows we’ve sent more than one!)
“Okay, well, my first question is: what’s your overall impression of the newsletter”, I began, cautiously optimistic.
“I like it. I usually read it cover to cover. It’s short enough I can do that pretty easily.” (SHORT enough – Score!)
“My wife really likes the calendar. She pins it to the bulletin board for when we’re looking for something to do.” (Writer-instinct-over-mentor-experience – SCORE!)
From there the questions continued, most with very favorable answers.
The next call was easier to make, though the sting of the first call prevented any puffed up pride. Humility can be a good thing though, so I allowed myself a mix of celebration and realism.
The third call went much like the second, and so did the fourth, fifth, and sixth calls.
Then came the eighth call. That one call I will never forget.
That’s the one where the respondent could tell me article for article what the newsletter was about, even quoting some key sentences pretty closely!
Thanks to the last eleven phone calls, I was convinced that we had evidence to support the “warm fuzzies” and assure JLA of our value.
Our final newsletter of that contract included a specific request to call and schedule an appointment for their seasonal inspection. In the first week after publication, they had 22 phone calls – surpassing all previous experiences.
We were making an impact!
At our next meeting, JLH renewed the contract, our relationship was enhanced, and our services were extended to include an additional product.
And that first call? I honestly couldn’t tell you if she ever noticed the newsletter after that or not.
I can tell you though, that it really doesn’t matter, because one rejection is really just that – one rejection.
So if you get knocked down, stand back up (even slowly, if you must), brush off the dust, and give it a running start. With a gust of perseverance, you’ll soon be soaring!
You probably know an “uplifting” story to share,too. Please encourage others in the comments!