How to Use the Pamphlet Principle to Increase Sales and Build Relationships

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 11/12/14 •  6 min read

Note: The above photo was taken near the end of probably the most miserable house painting job I’ve ever had…

Aside from my brief stint scalping concert tickets on ebay, my very first business was painting houses when I was in college.

It wasn’t the sexiest job in the world, but it gave me more freedom and money than your typical college job bagging groceries might have.

This didn’t come without a sacrifice though.

My freshman year of college, when I decided to start this business, I had to go back to my hometown every single weekend (about an hour away) to go cold calling.

And I was awful at it.

I’d knock on doors, give them my pitch for why they should let me give them a free estimate to paint their house, and in what started to feel like a highly choreographed manner – the door would be slammed in my face.

Things went on like that with little success for the better part of two months – and that’s when I had a break through.

Introducing the Pamphlet Principle

I surmised that there were two major reasons people weren’t receptive to my pitch. The first, is that I was flat out interrupting them and they had no idea who I was. It’s not a very welcome thing to have someone come knock on the door during family dinner time.

The second was that they hadn’t even considered getting their house painted that year. Sure their house may have looked like it hadn’t been painted in 20 years, with paint flaking off everywhere, but March is pretty early to start thinking about your summer plans.

So how could I get past those two initial problems? How could I get them thinking about house painting, and have an idea of who I was before I showed up?

This is where the pamphlet principle comes in.

I decided to try and experiment.

I got some pamphlets advertising who I was, what the painting was all about, and saying that I’d be coming through the neighborhood in a couple of days to schedule free appointments.

The Friday night before I was to go cold calling I would leave a pamphlet on the door of every house I wanted to go to. Sure it was a bit more work, but it’s not like it was all that difficult. I even recruited my twin sisters to go help me for $5 an hour 🙂

That weekend I got 5 times as many leads as I normally did – and when I went back the following week to do the estimate I generated my very first sales.

The mindset was completely different for many of the people I visited that weekend.

I’d show up, and they would say things like:

Let’s face it, even when you prepare properly some people will still be jerks!

Translating This to Your Online Business

So now the important question, how does this translate to your online business?

Pretty easily actually, and there are two primary ways you can take this concept and apply it online.

1) Build Relationships with Other Bloggers

The longer you blog, you’ll start to realize how important it is to have relationships with other bloggers. They’re the ones that can send you quality links, promote your products, and offer to let you guest post – all things that can help grow your business significantly.

So how do you get on their radar if they’ve never heard of you?

Simple, digital “pamphlets”.

For a month before you ever ask them for anything, you need to scatter yourself across their world. You do this by:

By doing this you’re inserting yourself on their radar – which they will both notice and appreciate. When it comes time to pitch them for a guest post or something similar, they’ll be much more inclined to see what you have to say.

2) Increase Sales

Another way you can leverage the pamphlet principle is to increase sales for a product launch.

Let’s say you’re just now starting to work on a new product, and you expect to have it done in 3 months. You’ve already got a bit of an audience that you think will be interested in it, but haven’t engaged them much about the product itself.

The last thing you want to do is just drop a sales page on them on launch day and say “here you go, buy me!”

Trust me, I know from experience, that doesn’t work.

In order to get them invested and excited about the product, you should drop pamphlets to them all along the way.

You can do this across any medium: social, blog post, and most importantly email.

Here’s what this might look like:

  1. Pamphlet 1: Email asking your readers what their biggest problem is associated with _________. Do the same thing on Facebook and Twitter, and then give personal responses.
  2. Pamphlet 2: A few weeks later, give an update on your progress, and a few sneak peeks into some of the game-changing content in your program
  3. Pamphlet 3: A few weeks after that, release a couple testimonials or case studies from people in your beta group, or other people you’ve helped through this process.

You get the idea, by touching base on a regular basis, across various mediums, these digital pamphlets will add up and over the course of a couple months they’ll make people say “man, I just can’t get this product out of my head, I can’t wait for it!”

Have You Done Anything Similar?

The examples above are just two of the ways I’ve applied the pamphlet principle to Location 180. Have you done anything similar that’s worked well? I’d love to hear about it!

Also, I’m still refining my video skills and personality. What did you think of this one? Any and all feedback is welcome!

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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33 comments on "How to Use the Pamphlet Principle to Increase Sales and Build Relationships"

  1. Minh says:

    Great ideas! Interruption marketing is not only annoying, it’s hard to make it work especially in this era when people don’t have time for it and are wise to this type of sales tactic. As a salesman, why make it hard on yourself? Getting people receptive to your pitch is the key — putting them in the right mindset so you don’t have to do the heavy lifting and make a hard sale.

  2. GarinEtch says:

    Great advice. I don’t have anything to pitch you right now, but I’ll start commenting more to warm up the lead for when I do!

    Here is another way of doing the same thing that might interest your readers: I listen to tons of podcasts. Whenever I hear a quote or idea that I really like, I make an image using gimp with that text. Then I tweet it to the host, and the guest if there is one, with a link to the episode. Essentially it’s a free ad on twitter for them (plus images get much more engagement, and there’s no character limit). If anyone is interested they can see exactly what I’m talking about on my feed @GarinEtch, and I’d be happy to answer any how-to questions. Tip #1: 525×260 px is the ideal size.

    Great job again on the video; I really liked the outtakes!

    1. Sean says:

      Great idea Garin! Appreciate you sharing, may have to try that one soon 🙂

    2. Sheralyn says:

      LOVE that idea!!!

    3. RobB says:

      That is a great idea Garinetch – Data shows that tweets with images have a 35% higher retweet rate compared to those without, so there’s real value in those images!

      Out of interest, how did you come up with the 525×260 pixel dimensions as an ideal?

      1. RobB says:

        Hi don’t worry about the pixel dimensions, got it figured out. Cheers 🙂

      2. Sean says:

        I’m curious to test this out a bit. I haven’t seen as many boosts from images as a lot of people proclaim, so excited to dig in a bit more.

    4. Danny says:

      Great post Sean, thanks! I’ll be trying out this approach very soon.

      Love your tip Garinetch, will be using that too.

  3. Ferdy says:

    Interesting post, thanks! It makes sense to let people get acquainted with you and your business before trying to sell them anything. I will definitely try this technique. Very curious to see how this works out.

    1. Sean says:

      Let me know how it goes!

  4. Jason Treu says:

    Awesome! Great tips about engagement. I always say try and help serve others and add value to them.

    1. Sean says:

      I think the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re going that route is not to say “how can I help you?” Because the reality is, influential people and bloggers 1) Probably have no clue who you are at first 2) Get offers for help all the time and 3) Dont know what you can or can’t bring to the table.

      So if doing this, make sure you’re very specific with the way you offer to help.

  5. Great stuff Sean. Reminds me of another great post of yours “How to pitch a guest post” which is still one of the most valuable posts I’ve read. I love your pamphlet principle strategy and how you took the success you achieved with it from door to door selling and cold calling and applied it to blogging and guest posting online, awesome! I also think it helps when you’re genuinely interested in the person you’re approaching, their work, and what they’re all about.

  6. Ashley says:

    Omg! Let me just say I really like reading your posts but video makes me fall in love. I’m happy you left some of the hiccups in there. It made me keep watching. So to answer your question I plan to start actually leaving comments. I always follow bloggers but I will start leaving a trail of cookie crumbs behind because pamphlets are boring and I never read them. Everyone loves cookies- I think… Okay going back to my hibernation hole. {caves are overrated}


    1. Sean says:

      Maybe I should retitle this post “How to Make Cookie Connections” 🙂

      So happy to see the comment, and thanks for the kind words! I’ve had some fun with the video, so looking forward to continue expanding on it! Don’t stay in that cave too long!

  7. Haha I like the style of the videos, Sean. Agree 100% about warming up leads by adding comments and Twitter pings to add to the conversation. Granted I’ve never painted houses, or have an innate desire to, but love the concept of dropping on pamphlets.

    Who are some bloggers (if you feel comfortable naming them) on whom you’ve used this strategy with?

    And could I be using this strategy on you via this comment right now? Who knows……. perhaps. ****EVIL LAUGH****

    1. Sean says:

      ha yeah trust me, there’s no need to run out and start a house painting business.

      Chris Guillebeau is a great example. For a month I left tweets, commented on his posts, and then finally asked if he’d be up for meeting me for a cup of coffee? It worked, and I’ve been working with him ever since.

      And we’ll see if I continue to see comments over the next few weeks – then I’ll be on to your game! haha

  8. Charles says:

    Great post, Sean, and great video too! When I grow up I want to be just like you!

    I also started out cold calling door to door at 15 and hated it ever since, I just wish I was a genius like you and figured out a better way. Whoa!!! Wait….

    I just did! Talk to you later.

  9. Sheralyn says:

    Great job on the video, and a great reminder on how to “cold call” more effectively! 🙂 And I thought keeping the “bloopers” in made the video even better – I hope you keep doing that!!!

    1. Sean says:

      Thanks Sheralyn! I like those as well, and was adamant we include some of them…

  10. Chas says:

    Just relating to the door to door thing- I have done it for ADT (the home security company), after their telemarketers blanketed the community I was dropped-off in with calls a couple of weeks before, and I started this during the week 9/11 hit- most of the responses weren’t very positive, as you can imagine. I also did it for petitions. I also had a brief stint with UPS during Christmas season delivering packages~ when people are receiving something, their attitudes are a bit more cheerful.
    It is a great learning experience in sociology, but, I didn’t relish going door to door, and don’t wish to repeat the experience.

    1. Sean says:

      It certainly wasnt my favorite thing either. A way to expand on it could be telling them in the pamphlet that you’re giving them a free gift in a couple days! Then they’ll just be waiting at the window for you to come, like they’re getting some special Christmas package haha. Not sure I can easily apply that online though… 🙂

  11. Great ideas and so clearly put, love the pamphlet principle! I have just started to reach to to others myself and it does work, it takes time but I am can see thee results. Long way to go yet!! Thanks so much for the post

    1. Sean says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Caroline! It definitely takes a little extra work – but really, what’s work? You get to meet cool people, get involved in interesting conversations, and grow your business all at the same time. When you look at it that way, it isnt so bad 🙂

  12. Jan Koch says:

    Sounds like I used the pamphlet principle without knowing it when I launched my latest venture around WP services 🙂

    Thanks for explaining the process in such detail Sean. You just helped me see some mistakes I made in the launch, that might have remained hidden without knowing the principles behind what I unconsciously did.

    You were just in my mind with this post, great job!

  13. Awesome post – actionable with punch!

    I’m currently applying the “pamphlet principal” with one of my clients, a media company in Denver that targets Bilingual English/Spanish speaking local businesses. Anyone can apply this to their business as well.


    1) Scrape a WARM email list – we grabbed the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (*note we are also members of the group)

    2) Create a giveaway – offering the winner a free media package to boost their business

    3) Email the entire list, introducing ourselves as fellow members with the link to the new giveaway

    4) Connect with the list on LinkedIn and Facebook (build “impressions”)

    5) Hire a sales rep on commission to follow up with the list and ask if they got the email about the giveaway and kindly ask them if they’d like a free consultation

    6) The rest is up to us to close them!

    Hope this helps.

  14. Maril says:

    the idea is to make them think about you, your job, product or whatever you want , more than two seconds …
    kind of like movies …….. coming soon …

    i like it.


  15. We’re currently doing something similar for one of our eCommerce stores, and it works a treat. We refer to it as our “softly softly” approach.

    We sell outdoor shelters and are approaching bloggers who are in our industry with just some friendly ‘hellos’. The response is much better when we start with “softly softly” rather than just straight out asking for a co-promotion.

    I wonder how we can adapt your physical pamphlet into a digital version. Perhaps a simple graphic attached to our ‘hello’ emails.

    Thanks for the tips.

  16. Don Purdum says:

    Hi Sean,

    I’m new to your blog, but I’m not new to blogging. Blogging is a lot like networking offline, it’s just the tools are very different.

    I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of amazing people via blogging and build some fabulous friendships. But, most importantly, I’ve earned a lot of business from blogging from the referrals and networking that I do online.

    Gaining the attention of a blogger, just as you mentioned, can be tedious work. It does take time being on their radar, offering comments that enhance the conversation, ideas or just offer a beneficial view that is unique or different.

    Commenting is a powerful way to meet new people and introduce yourself and combined with social shares is a powerful tool in establishing credibility and competence.

    I really enjoyed your article and I look forward to reading more Sean.

    I hope you’re having a great start to your week!

    ~ Don Purdum

  17. Man, Sean, your content is fantastic, and I say this TOTALLY inspired by your tips:-))! but I Speak the truth. I am applying the list building, and am getting your warm newsletter- after taking a week off to be with a family member in crisis. Can;t wait to e-mail you with the feedback on what I have learned from you so far!
    thank you!

  18. Hey Sean this is awesome!! Thank you so much – been struggling a lot with my online presence and recently decided to work on it and this is pure gold.

    Thanks for sharing


  19. Chintan Jain says:

    I have been watching lot of videos of your and certainly they are one of the best to learn.

    With regards to Pamphlet principle, these days we are seeing lot of bloggers commenting on any blogs. Is there anyway apart from social share and comments, to have good relationship with other bloggers in the community?

    1. Sean says:

      I would try and build an email relationship with them. Start with a very brief email introducing yourself and letting them know you like their content. Then over the course of months send the occasional short email with feedback, questions etc.

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