The Fine Line Between Persistence and Stalking

Some of you may be familiar with The List. They maintain a database of marketing decision makers at companies throughout the U.S. and Canada and sell access to this database on a subscription basis. It’s actually a pretty good service (although not cheap) if that’s your market, and I used to be a subscriber myself back in the days when we were doing more advertising and marketing communications work.

Yesterday, however, I was looking at the blog of The List CEO Todd Knutson and saw something that threw me a little bit. He had a post on 7 Voicemail Messages for Successful Ad Agency New Business Development. In it, he lays out a strategy for the information you should include in each of seven (that’s right, seven) voicemails that you might leave for a prospect without getting a response.

There are certainly some things that I like about this post. First, it is a structured approach to the deployment of a marketing tactic, which is always good. After all, having a pre-planned set of messages is certainly better than just calling whenever the mood strikes, and blurting out the same desperate plea for a callback each time. Second, he advises that you keep the messages very short, which is good advice if you want someone to keep listening after you have left three or four of them. And third, the plan operates under the (correct) assumption that recipients of voicemails from people trying to sell them something very rarely call back.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do some cold/warm calling to people on you prospect wish list, and I’m definitely not a believer in the “I left her a message, and she’ll call back if she really wants to work with us” approach, but I have been pretty clear about my belief in the ascendancy of content marketing over large-scale cold calling.

After all, for those prospects that you want to work with bad enough to call seven times without having them pick up the phone, isn’t it worth the effort to provide them with something of value (like a report on their competitor’s social media activities, or some recommendations on how to improve conversions on their website), rather than just leaving seven snappy voicemail messages?

I can already hear what some of you diehards are saying. “I can’t direct that level of effort toward all of my prospects. I have so many people on my list that all I have time for is cold calling.” To which I reply that if you have that many people on your list – people who you can call seven times without a response – then you should really be looking at opportunities to create content that will lead prospects to contact you when they are looking for your services, instead of just relying on a big list and a lucky dialing finger.

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