The art & science of pestering

Presented live on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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Pestering people broadly doesn’t work… you need to use a precise formula that’s constructed in the right configuration to be effective. Not enough – or too much – can tip the scales against you.

Believe it or not, there’s an art and a science to pestering your prospects in order to build honest, genuine, long-lasting relationships.

In this live Tutorial, copywriter Karine Bengualid teaches you an effective strategy to build authentic relationships with your network.


Joanna Wiebe: Today we have Karine in. Karine is going to share with us a presentation that she actually gave to our Mastermind when we had our retreat earlier in October and it was amazing. I loved every second of it. I was in the front row wanting to cheer the whole time, it was so awesome. So I said, “You gotta get that presentation and give it to the freelancers of the world who need to know the things that you’re doing. So Karine, without further ado, welcome to Tutorial Tuesdays.

Karine Bengualid: Thank you.

Joanna Wiebe: I didn’t see your dance though.

Karine Bengualid: Yeah, I don’t dance. I try not to dance. I might need a few extra drinks if you want me to dance but …

Joanna Wiebe: [inaudible].

Karine Bengualid: Okay. So, first, I have a question before we get into who I am and all of that kind of good stuff. When I say the word pester, I’d love for you guys to just pop in to the, I forget what it’s called, the little channel, and tell me what you feel about that word.

Joanna Wiebe: About the word pester. So chat your reaction to the word, pester.

Karine Bengualid: It’s a good thing I’m a writer, I can’t think of words.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, so I’ll read out some answers they’re saying. Oh Lord Almighty, there’s a lot. Annoy, annoying, annoying, my kids, annoying, bothered, bugged, nagged, [inaudible], resilient, annoying, persistence, irritating, unwanted, pester, political ads, pain in the ass, bug, squeaky wheel, my cat whining. Someone has only-child syndrome so they live to pester. I think we got noisy behind me.

Karine Bengualid: Speaking of cats.

Joanna Wiebe: I’ll go on to mute for a second.

Karine Bengualid: Okay, I’ll take it over from Joanna. So I asked this question just to tell you all that the title of the presentation is very much tongue in cheek. Pestering does have a very negative connotation but obviously my point today is that pestering can be a force for good. Okay, a little bit about who I am. This is me, my name is Karine. It’s pronounced marine but with a K. My last name is Bengualid, the U is kind of like a W. I’ve been working in marketing for about 16 years and I’ve worked for awesome brands like NBA, NHL, MLS teams. I’ve worked for polar travel companies, luxury travel companies, utilities companies, all kinds of stuff.

And fun is actually my second favorite f-word. I’m on a mission to make B to B marketing fun because I believe every business can bring a varying degree of fun to their marketing. It’s all about finding a threshold of fun, trademark, that’s just the size of the sandbox you get to play in because there is a sandbox for every business.

A little bit about me personally. I’m a French-Canadian-Moroccan Jew. I’m a recovering introvert and an aspiring comedienne. I live in beautiful British Columbia although it’s not very beautiful today and I work with clients all over North America. In my spare time, I volunteer with my therapy dog Nelly Greek. I love Loblaws’ vanilla cake if anybody wants to send me presents. Gifs and memes are bae and in my not-so-spare time, I’m working on launching an animal rescue ranch in 2019 and it’s gonna be called Maison Misha. My company is called Brought to You By the Letter K as you can see from behind me. And yes, for those of you old enough to know, it is a Sesame Street reference.

So let’s get on to it. The science of pestering to get what you want. This is all meant to be fun, guys. What we’ll talk about is a little bit of history, why words matter as we just experience in the little Q & A, examples and results, the science of pestering because there is a science to it, believe it or not, final tips, and questions.

Once upon a time this was me. I was shy and introverted, sad and scared, I often was called too pushy, and side not, I still kind of am. I was always embarrassed. I was lonely and ashamed, and I just didn’t ask questions because I was just afraid to be me and I was afraid to be me and I was afraid of the perception that everybody would get. But I grew up with this crazy weirdo and his kind of motto for life was, “The worst they can say is no.” So as I’ve grown up, I’ve taken that to heart in a good way. And as you can see, he kind of mimics my little giraffe tongue.

Okay, so why words matter. Because as we’ve just experienced, when you say somebody is pestering you, what you’re actually saying is they’re annoying you, they’re plaguing you, they’re aggravating, they’re badgering, they’re hounding, they’re bugging, they’re coaxing, they’re nagging, they’re pushy and they’re urging, they’re irking. But if you do it right, which is the point of today, then what you’re actually saying is that they’re advocating and they’re sweat talking and they’re reminding you, they’re prompting you, they’re lobbying, they’re working on something, they’re got diligence or they’re got persistence and consistency. So that, my friends, for all in marketing copywriting, you might know as a thing called SEO.

The first example that I’m gonna go into is the Copywriter Mastermind. What some of you may or may not know is that Joanna Wiebe has done a few Masterminds for copywriters before and, after the last iteration in 2017 if memory serves, she decided flat out that she was never gonna do it again.

Joanna Wiebe: [inaudible].

Karine Bengualid: Yeah. Because she puts way too much into it and I can attest to that, but I didn’t know that at the time because I had only just discovered Joanna, surprisingly. So the story goes that on September 14, 2017, more than a year ago now, Joanna accepted my Facebook friend request. So, I send her immediately a little note. I just basically said, “Hey, thanks for accepting. I’ve heard such great things about you,” blah, blah, blah, and she said, “Thank you.” Then a little bit of conversation later I brought up cats because she’s got cats in all of her photos and I love cats and then I made a little crack and then she laughed so I knew I had her.

After that, on March 9th, she launched Copy School and if you haven’t signed up for Copy School you totally should but that’s besides the point. So I used the launch of Copy School to kind of initiate conversation with her about the Mastermind because I already had it in my head that I wanted to join her Mastermind and hers was the only one that I wanted to join. So I messaged her and asked her when the next Mastermind was gonna be. To my surprise, she was like, “Well, I actually don’t think there’s gonna be another one. I’m still kind of on the fence but it’s looking like no but I’ll know more in the spring.” So I said, “Okay, no problem.”

Two months later, I tapped her on the virtual shoulder and I said, “Hey, any update on the Mastermind?” And she said, “Well, I’m thinking about a couple of things. I’m still working on it. Not quite sure,” the elusive Joanna thing. Then on June 11th, I got this wonderful email that said, “The Mastermind is open!” Yay. So I sent her this because Kermit is awesome and I’m a nut and she called me out on my craziness but I choose to take that as a compliment. To each his own. Then, on July 2nd, the Mastermind began and it was the best.

So, the lessons for this example is that it’s a long game. I actually started 9 months and 26 days from the first day of the Mastermind, which sometimes it’s a little bit long, sometimes it’s a little bit short but always plan for the long game. I started with being human and making a real connection with her. I didn’t ask her for anything off the top but what you obviously didn’t see is that there were a bunch of little messages here and there between September and March when I started talking to her about this. Pop up when it’s relevant but be consistent. So, did you hear about something that they’re doing that’s awesome? Did you sign up for the course and love it? Whatever it is, use that as, kind of, a reason to reach out to them.

Find a common ground. Like I said, Joanna loves cats, I love cats so I used it. Make jokes or just be you because basically that’s how you’re gonna endear yourself to them and shower them with praise. If you’re pestering them, it’s for a reason so there should be praise or love or admiration or something behind it, right? Just use that.

The next example is 90210. Again, if you’re old enough to get the Sesame Street reference, you’re old enough to get this one. 90210, Beverly Hills. In September of 2001, I started a PR post-grad program that had an internship component to it and I decided that the only thing that I wanted to do was get an internship at a PR agency in Los Angeles because why the hell not. So, despite everybody telling me that it wasn’t gonna be possible or that I should set my sights lower. I still went for it.

In March, keep in mind this was 2002 so cell phones weren’t very prevalent, email wasn’t everywhere, and not every business was on the internet, I started phoning everybody that I could possibly think of to find out about how in the world a little Canadian girl could get an internship in the big, bad Los Angeles

In April, about a month later, somebody that I had spoken to probably at the Academia of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a.k.a. the Oscars, because yes, I phoned them too, told me about this agency called Bragman Nyman Cafarelli PR and I reached out to the HR assistant and she said, “Yeah, no problem. Send me your resume.” So, I faxed it to her because that’s what you did back then, and a week later I phoned her up again and I said, “Hey, did you get my resume?” And she said, “Nope, can you fax it again?” And I said, “Yeah, no problem!” Then a week later, I called her again and I said, “Hey Felicia, it’s Karine, did you get my resume?” “No I didn’t, can you fax it again?” “No problem!”

This went on for weeks and weeks and weeks and then finally, two months later, I called her and I said, “Hey Felicia, did you get my resume?” She said, “Karine, I’m looking at 10 copies of your resume.” The part that I didn’t find out until after I started working there was that that was just the line that she told everybody if their resume wasn’t the first on the top of the pile. She just was too busy to actually go through the pile and look so that was just what she said to everybody but that paid off because 10 copies of my resume she gave to the VP. A month later, we spoke and she confirmed, by fax, that my internship was starting in August. On August 5th, I started my first day at 9100 Wilshire Blvd., 90210. It was exactly what you would imagine. It was the most wonderful experience of my life and I loved every single minute of it.

So the lessons because there’s lessons in everything. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to humans. I didn’t have much of a choice back then but it really still applies today. Be thankful when people are helpful because the people at the Oscars who actually took the time to talk to me, they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to tell me about Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, they didn’t have to tell me anything but they did and that was really awesome of them. Smile on the phone because, believe it or not, people can hear it and I spent a lot of years in customer service so I can attest to that fact. Follow up, a lot sometimes. Be consistent and cover your ass. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, try to get it in writing, whether that’s mail, that’s fax or that’s email or messenger, whatever.

Okay, so this is interactive but since none of you are on the line, I’m just gonna play the game by myself. Knock knock. Who’s there?

Joanna Wiebe: Who’s there?

Karine Bengualid: Big-name-agency. Big-name-agency who? Well I’m not gonna tell you because, well, just because but just trust me, it’s a big name agency.

Joanna Wiebe: Trust me, I know the name and it’s a big-name agency that’s cool.

Karine Bengualid: So I will say this, they’ve got a viral campaign, another viral, another hugely successful campaign and another, another, another, another, so they’re wroth anonymizing but they’re also worth telling the story anyway. So the big-name-agency, I sent a LinkedIn request to the owners of the agency and on June 12th at precisely 6:47 PM, one of them accepted. I put the time because it kind of is important. This was my message. Again, similar to what I had sent Joanna just, “Thanks for connecting. Huge fan of your work. Looking forward to what comes next from your agency.”

Well, three hours, on the nose, later, I got a response with actually a video. I’m, again, anonymizing the person but basically they said, “Hey, we dropped this video and thanks for connecting.” This person initiated the conversation so I did not bring up my work or anything. As you can see, this was his message. What happened was we just ended up talking back and forth on messenger and, at the end of the conversation, this person suggested that we set up a call so I said, “Great!” Then, because it was late, it kind of just fell off, which happens. It’s totally cool.

Two weeks later I sent a follow-up and I got crickets. Then another two weeks later, I sent another follow-up and there were more crickets. Then another two weeks later, still crickets. Then another two weeks later, this time though I pulled out the big guns and I sent a whale gif because whales are awesome and gifs, don’t even get me started. Then two days later, we set up a call. The moral of story is same as before, be real, be human, be genuine. It is a long game. Although this doesn’t really seem like a long game because this is actually one of the shortest ones that I’ve personally experienced. It really is a long game. Don’t ask for anything, at least not until you’ve done something for them and then in this case, he’s the one that initiated the conversation so I went along with it. Be consistent and follow up nicely. Pardon my French but, a.k.a., don’t be a dick because that’s the name of the game.

Now we get into my favorite part which is this, the science of pestering.

Joanna Wiebe: Can we just pause for one second Karine?

Karine Bengualid: Yes.

Joanna Wiebe: ‘Cause I think that it’s useful to drive home, when I’m watching this, I hear a lot ,from freelancers in particular, about struggling to build their network and how do you do it and they often jump to cold emails which is one method and I never teach it because I’ve never used it and it seems to be a giant waste of time in a lot of cases. But what I love is you’re not talking about cold emails, you’re talking about building a relationship using all of the tools that you’ve already got, that you’re already building relationships with anyway. It goes way back to the phone but also social media between Facebooking me, LinkedIn with the agency, all of these other tools that are at your disposal and if you just play this long game and do it right following the science you’re about to talk about, then the results can be really cool. But I do love the way that you stuck with it. You used this old idea of cold emailing that I’m not in support of but you did it in the social sort of way.

Anyway, it’s just such a cool story but I really want people to notice that social, and the phone, and other things that are outside of email and common ways of getting ahold of people. Email’s not necessarily always gonna be a great way to build a relationship but really friendly, social stuff … Anyway, I’ll let you get into it but I just want to make sure everybody is zeroing in on that. [inaudible] that they are in the chats.

Karine Bengualid: Yeah. That actually brings up a good point and I forgot to bring it up earlier but, Joanna, do you wanna maybe speak a little bit about your experience?

Joanna Wiebe: About being pestered by you?

Karine Bengualid: Me pestering you and, as the pesteree, what it was like to be pestered.

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, the pesteree. Yes. It didn’t feel like pestering, honestly. It was very persistent. Just like Sarah said, it takes a healthy dose of tenacity. As someone who got pestered, honestly it made me think, “Hm, should I do the Mastermind?” That’s a good thing, right? It doesn’t have to be for that, that was the case with you and me but someone else could reach out to someone where they’re like, “I really want to work with that company. I’m gonna connect with the digital marketers and build relationships with them and go, hey, just plant seeds like, if you ever decide to do emails, I got some ideas for you.” And you can start slowly chipping away at people, as hard as that … It doesn’t sound very nice but you’re not doing it to be mean, you’re doing it to actually, ultimately be very helpful.

So, for me, as someone who got pestered, it did bring to mind, “Hm, maybe I should work on that. Maybe I should do that.” I think that’s a really valuable thing to keep it mind, that you think it’s annoying and some ways it’s annoying but it wasn’t annoying because it was friendly and I got to know you and think of you not as some random person who’s trying to get something from me but the person who sends me cat gifs and stuff like that. That’s good, right? Yeah, that’s my experience and it worked in the end.

Karine Bengualid: Yeah, check. Thank you. ‘Cause I know a lot of people who have either heard this presentation or who’ve heard me talk about this are like, “Oh my God, I’m gonna annoy them, they’re gonna hate me,” blah, blah, blah. So, it’s cool to get the perspective of the actual pesteree. Yeah, so thank you.

Joanna Wiebe: I never felt annoyed, that’s for sure. I never felt annoyed.

Karine Bengualid: Nice, good, then I did it right. Okay, the science. Pestering a bunch of people broadly doesn’t actually work. We’re all business owners or we all work in business and, as you know, you need a plan or in this case, a formula to follow in order to make sure if things go right. The formula needs to be super precise. So I actually studied organic chemistry and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy but the moral of the story is that one little thing can change everything about a chemical property. The example that I have here is actually called a cis and a trans molecule. They are chemically identical but because of the slight little difference in the way that they’re shaped, everything about their properties is different. That’s the bottom line, right? Not enough or too much of something will tip the scales not in your favor.

Pestering 101, find your mark. Who do you want to pester and why? Stalk your mark. Where do they hang out online and what do you have in common? Again, cat gifs, sports, whatever it is. Then initiate the pestering. So, when should you start and how do you introduce yourself?

The periodic table of pestering, and yes, there is a periodic table of pestering. Kindness, honesty, report and patience, consistency and follow up, being human, real, and grateful, resolute, respectful, and persistent. Now, if any of you remember anything about grade 10 chemistry and remember learning about the periodic table, you will know that the placement of every, single element dictates how it reacts and how it binds to other things.

Before we get into the chemistry of it, let’s just talk about each element. Kindness goes a long way. Again, say something nice, gush, smile. You’re pestering them for a reason so use that. Be honest, nobody likes liars and nobody like to get caught in a lie so try to avoid that. Building report. So, like Joanna said, get them to know you because you’re awesome, everybody’s awesome. Thank you LEGO Movie. Find something you have in common and use it in a good way. Be patient because, again, it is a long way so sit back and enjoy the ride otherwise you’re gonna have a helluva time. Be consistent. For best results, show up consistently and follow up. They’re busy so be patient and just keep at it.

Being human just basically means don’t be a robot. Don’t automate the messages, be human, speak human. Be real. So, don’t say you like sports or cats if you don’t because that’s just kind of stupid. When I got interviewed for the NBA and the NHL teams, the first question the Vice President asked me was, “Are you a fan?” And my answer was, “No.” Guess what, I still got the job. Be grateful. When they take the time to respond, be grateful and appreciative because, again, they really don’t have to be. They owe you nothing. Be resolute. Again, don’t give up, you’ve got this. Be respectful. Again, don’t be a dick, that’s all we’re saying. Be persistent. So, no means no, ladies and gentlemen, but until you get the no, in this case, keep at it. Let’s not assume I’m talking about anything other than pestering.

The winning formula for pestering success. So, honesty in the pesterer’s version of a noble gas. It’s non-reactive, which means it doesn’t bond to anything, any other elements, which really means it doesn’t have to because that’s how important it is and that’s what’s kind of gonna get you through the whole process. Human and report and I’d just like to point out that on the top right of your screen, those are actually, if these were legit chemical elements, this is what they would look like because, yes, I’m stupid and I took the time to figure this out for my presentation.

Joanna Wiebe: You’re awesome.

Karine Bengualid: Thank you. Okay, so human and report. Human and report are attracted to each other. They’re like the yin and yang but they are not mutually exclusive. You need a 1:1 ratio of gratefulness and respectfulness in order to succeed. This is a long game so both persistence and consistency is required to achieve a positive chemical reaction and you need a lot of both and you need both together. Patience is required in abundance because the follow-up you need to exhibit in order to see success. And since today’s voting day, I made a little America joke. These two elements can co-exist, right everybody? Let’s all be friends. You can be kind while still being resolute but always double up on kindness just to be safe and so your resolve isn’t also misinterpreted because sometimes if you have too much resolve and you’re not kind, you’ll come off as not nice.

So final tips. I know today is voting in America but get over your inner Canadian even if you’re not. Seriously, it’s not that hard. Provide value even if you’re not giving anything. Make them look forward to your presence. Like Joanna said, I kept sending her stupid gifs, jokes. Send them links to articles you think that might actually enjoy. Be yourself. We can all smell a fake from a mile away and they smell like sewers so don’t smell like a sewer. Flattery goes a long way and it should if it’s genuine so use it. They’re just people like you and me so they just take a shit like you and me, believe it or not. They probably use Poo-Pourri so you don’t smell it but, at the end of the day, they still go to the bathroom.

So, a little plug, if you wanna get the notes and the periodic table of pestering, you can sign up here, Once you sign up, you’ll get an email for the download and they’ll be the opportunity to sign up for a follow-up webinar and a get-over-your-pestering-mindset session.

Joanna Wiebe: Love it, yes.

Karine Bengualid: [crosstalk] any of your questions.

Joanna Wiebe: Excellent.

Karine Bengualid: So, that’s the end.

Joanna Wiebe: Obviously, this is necessary right now and it’s awesome. Love it. So, for everybody who was like, “Oh, Karine, I need this periodic table to be a poster,” go to Sarah chatted that out to everybody so go there, get that download, and then go to additional sessions there with Karine, which I haven’t been saying like marine. I’ve been saying Karin.

Karine Bengualid: You know, I get both, it’s fine.

Joanna Wiebe: I know, but it’s better to get the right one. So, go to, get the periodic table, follow Karine, and that wraps it up. Thanks so much, Karine, for coming in today and teaching us this.

Karine Bengualid: My pleasure.

Joanna Wiebe: Everybody [crosstalk] talking.

Karine Bengualid: Nice to not meet everybody.

Joanna Wiebe: Excellent, okay. Well, we’ll have the replay up in about two weeks and we’ll see you guys on the next Tutorial Tuesday, which is, again, all gonna be focused, for the whole month of November, on freelancers and freelance copywriters. Thank you.

Karine Bengualid: Nice.

Joanna Wiebe: Have a good day. Go vote.

Sarah Dlin : Thanks Karine, bye.

Joanna Wiebe: Bye everyone.

Karine Bengualid: Bye.

Sarah Dlin: Bye.

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