Yesterday, despite automated spam block filtering, I received a few hundred junk emails in my mailbox. Quite a few were offering me (probably phony) Subway gift cards, others purported to provide language training skills, and of course many suggested my credit rating had either really improved — or declined — take your pick. Add to this, there were a few dozen emails from organizations or associations where I may have a relationship, but have no need for current services or events. And, of course, I continue to receive every day three or four seemingly personal emails offering to redesign my website or increase search engine ranking.
On the other side of the fence, our email service provider has given me a list of 14,000 names of people who are purportedly interested or relevant for construction news and information — an ideal “target market” for this blog and our online publications.
Then, there are the phone calls. The phone doesn’t ring much these days. Most clients communicate by email or face-to-face at events and shows — and most phone calls are like the one I received yesterday, while sitting at our administrator’s desk. “Can I speak with someone in the organization responsible for your accounting,” the caller asked. I responded: “Is this a marketing call, or are you trying to sort out an account you have with us?” The marketer came clean. I said, “no thanks” and hung up. If he had lied, he would have been caught out pretty quickly and certainly wouldn’t have sold anything to us.
This stuff, I’m sure, is nothing new to you. Most of the emails and calls we receive are marketing junk. So much junk. So much marketing. Does it work — or is there a better way?
I suppose the answer to the question “Does it work?” is, maybe, for certain businesses and circumstances — or organizations wouldn’t do it. Legitimate and effective newsletters for some will reach others who aren’t interested. Spam is, if you can work around the spam blocks, cheap and overwhelming — you need a minuscule response rate, on volume, for it to pay off. (This works best if you are running a fraud or have a ‘business’ that can sell to virtually anyone you can spam.) And, I suppose, there can be an argument for low-impact high volume distribution models — for example, if we elect to send a free copy of our news-filled magazine to the 14,000-name list, we won’t cause too much harm or consternation, and a few might even read it.)
However, there is a much better way to do things — and if you observe these guidelines, your communication (even if originally ‘cold’ to the intended recipient) will much more likely succeed than fail.
Referrals and relationships count for more than anything else
If you know me from before, say so. If you have been speaking with someone in my network — best of all, a good client — share that information.
Community service and third-party recognition will work better than any sales pitch
Published news articles or video clips, and requests or reports of community cause/support will offend much less than crass commercial messages.
Media leverage is wonderful — learning how to work with the media is one powerful route to marketing success
This is a multi-faceted challenge. You need to know how to communicate with the relevant media and the principles for marketing and communication outlined above (in terms of relationships, direct relevance and third party relevance) will get you further than “blasting” news releases to everyone on a “list”. However, once you’ve cracked the media route, you then have the leverage of credibility — both in the media outlet itself, and the ability to spread the news directly through your own marketing, and indirectly by encouraging other media outlets to share the news.
So if it is quantity, quality or both, I would argue “both” is best — when you achieve widespread media recognition relevant to your market.