Junk calling

13 Mar

Thanks to Tony Attwood, from the U.K.-based Hamilton House, a direct mail enterprise, for pointing out that telemarketing call are more intrusive than junk mail. I quite agree and that is why the U.S. government was right to create the “Do Not Call List.” It is about choice. We can reduce the “junk mail” and”junk calls” we get. Of course, we can always just hang up the phone when we realize it is a telemarketing call. Particularly offensive, in my opinion, are those recorded calls you get on your cell phone.

This got me to thinking about telemarketing calls. Somewhere, a marcomm person wrote a script for those calls. Ideally, the caller should move the call receiver to some sort of action–buy something, subscribe to something, donate money, etc. As in direct mail, these calls do have a success rate, and I am sure it varies by product or service and all by telemarketer ( I have had rude telemarketers call me. Needless to say, they don’t get very far. ).

The media was busy reporting this week that a new nuisance is text spam, in which you get unsolicited sales messages as text messages on your cell phone.  Email spam is noxious, primarily because it is unsolicited and often advertises pharmaceuticals or sex-related services.  We have legitimate email solicitations, which feature an opt-out option. But we don’t pay per email message. We do pay for text message.  Text spam may be even more nefarious than email spam.

Back to telemarketing–there is a role for direct calls in a marketing campaign. Clearly, politicians use this technique quite a lot, since they are trying to reach people “directly” and motivate them to vote. In some cases, it can backfire. If I get too many recorded messages, I get irritated. I wonder if telemarketing is more effective to retirees or people who are homebound. To these people a call is not an intrusion as much as chance to connect with someone. Somebody who has been on the phone all day and just wants to relax in the evening may find unsolicited calls from telemarketers very intrusive.

From a marketing standpoint, my advice about telemarketing is to proceed with caution. Certainly, the more targeted your message and your list, the more successful. Telemarketers who ignore common sense (calling too early or too late or too often) or run afoul of the Do Not Call list will not help the product or service they are trying to sell.

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One Response to “Junk calling”

  1. Shaun Dakin March 14, 2008 at 8:25 am #

    Political calls are exempt from the DNC registry.

    I started a non-profit, non-partisan organization last year to combat intrusive robo-calls by using a voluntary, private sector solution: the Political Do Not Contact Registry. As a result I was asked to testify at the U.S. Senate 2.27.2008 along with N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper.

    Our registry is similar to the federal government’s Do Not Call list. But to succeed it requires politicians who will honor the wishes of voters who’d rather not endure the endless robotic, political phone calls during campaign season.

    Kansas’s own Congresswoman Nancy Boyda has become the second member to sign our pledge. She has taken the pledge and agreed not to robo call constituents that sign up for free at the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at StopPoliticalCalls.org. We commend her leadership on this important consumer issue that impacts the privacy of all voters. As one frustrated Mother wrote us: “I find it very frustrating… I tend to get calls at the WORST time. I have a one year old daughter, and it NEVER fails that the phone will ring when I put her down for a nap or for bed.”

    Voters’ phones will soon be ringing off the hook this Fall. Fed up voters can visit our web site at StopPoliticalCalls.org and add their names to our free Do Not Call registry. It’s time we give the political dialogue back to average, concerned citizens.

    Shaun Dakin
    Founder & CEO, the National Political Do Not Contact Registry
    StopPoliticalCalls.org

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