Right message, right person, right timing

Recently, someone came to my website and went to the trouble to paste this message into my contact form:

Hi,

My name is Ben Bigelow and I am currently working with the Cisco TelePresence team. We are working in conjunction to create awareness for the recently launched â??Why I Want Cisco TelePresenceâ? video contest at http://www.whyiwantciscotelepresence.com/contest/.

This new contest is designed to entice individuals from around the world to submit their ideas about why or how they would like to use Cisco TelePresence.

Winners in two categories, Productivity and Shaping the Future, have a chance to win $3,000 each. Winners will also receive 5 hours of Cisco TelePresence at a Cisco Location (www.ciscomeetingonus) to connect with colleagues, peers, friends around the globe.

It would be great if you are willing to post about the video contest and encourage your readers to create their own videos.  They donâ??t have to be Ridley Scott or Cecil B. DeMille â?? all they need is a home video camera, some passion and a tad of creativity.  Most digital cameras can record short form videos, and the site is set up for easy uploading and includes a simple pass along feature.  We appreciate anything you can to help raise awareness for Cisco TelePresence and how it benefits entire organizations.

Thanks!

They included their name and what appeared to be a real (albeit non-Cisco) email address. The IP address even resolves to the same town where Cisco’s headquarters are.

But what didn’t they do?

They didn’t bother telling me what Cisco Telepresence is.

They didn’t describe the problems it solves, reminding me of the pain I’m in telecommunications-wise, and why I should be interested in finding out more, much less spending some money with them.

Instead, they asked me to make a video about a product I’ve never heard of. Makes absolutely no sense.

It’s not WWII

If I was already a Cisco Telepresence user and perhaps a product champion in their eyes, this message might have made sense.

Instead, it just felt like a German WWII bomber flying over dropping plane loads of pamphlets from 10,000 ft that explain how I’ve lost the war (you know, as I march on Berlin).

Don’t do that.

Take a close look at the marketing messages you’re sending out, regardless of their cost.

Are you sending the right message to the right person at the right time?

Are you sending a message that is in context with the relationship you currently have with that person?

It doesn’t matter if the message is delivered via email, telephone, tv, radio, newspaper, magazine, Twitter or whatever – the problem is the same if the message isn’t fine tuned for the situation.

Permission to market, sir?

People don’t want to buy from people who place sales calls to them during dinner (duh). It isn’t because they don’t want to buy your item. They just don’t want to buy it from someone they don’t know. Someone they don’t know hasn’t got “permission” to sell to them, because there isn’t yet a relationship with someone who knows better than to call during dinner.

People can get violent – electronically, at least – when people they don’t know send them an email asking them to buy something. Usually it’s a poorly written email, so it wouldn’t sell anything to most people in the first place.

Of course, because email costs so little to send, when you send out 62 million emails, the .0001% that buy (and yes, they actually do) make it worthwhile to the slimy character who sends them. That is, until their internet provider cuts them off. More on that shortly.

It isn’t as bad with U.S. Mail because you don’t have to pay to receive it, but so-called junk email still gets some people pretty steamed up.

The message itself determines a lot of what happens when it gets delivered.

If you send email, you can be a total putz and not think about your message at all. Send it to everyone with a heartbeat. Who cares if you try to sell a comb to a bald guy? Maybe he collects them.

Direct mail has a way of sorting out the lazy. They go broke rather quickly if they mail poorly.

Not many people have my cell number. I only get text messages only from my kids, my wife, kids in the Scout troop, and from my kids’ friends.

Parents of teenagers know what happens when text messages go big: Big cell bills. Imagine if you got even 10% as many spam text messages as you do spam emails. Suddenly, we’re talking real money unless you’re paying for unlimited texting.

For the most part, you have two choices: Get all text messages or get none. Some cell carriers have filtering tools, but they are mostly all or none choices. As in “filter all text messages that arrive by email” or “allow all text messages that arrive by email”. Not much of a choice, particularly if you’re the parent of a young adult, or if your business automation uses emailed text messages to alert you to various situations.

But today’s column isn’t about Verizon, most days I actually like them – especially the nice folks in the office in C-Falls.

It’s about not making the mistakes that lazy marketers make, and they make them in every media there is.

For example, I recently received a poorly targeted pitch via text message. It says “Four Phones sharing UNLIMITED minutes only $xxx.xx/month. Quality, Service, Value. Cellular ONE in Polson. 885-xxxx.”

Misguided.

First of all, if you emailed this text message to every other 406-249-xxxx number in the Valley, you probably got a lot of nasty phone calls and emails. That probably wasted your time. Wasting time is not typically the goal of your marketing:)

Second, I don’t live in Polson. Why in the world would everyone in the North Valley want a cell number that’s local to Polson – over an hour south of us?

The really unfortunate part was using a Bresnan email account to send your message. See, Bresnan’s terms of service for internet service include a clause that says you can’t spam people. So when Bresnan gets all of the complaints about your message, they’ll probably terminate your account. And of course, since you don’t use a CellularOnePolson.com email like you should, any legitimate email to your Bresnan account will just disappear when they cancel your account for being a spammer.

That’s probably not the desired effect.

Fine tune your message. Send it to the right people. Send it at the right time (which is likely “more than once”).

And for heaven’s sake, don’t call during dinner.