Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Monday, October 24, 2011

From butlers to Football League glory

Butlers to football sponsorship.....it's in all in a day of unsolicited emails from agencies and publishers desperate to win the business of my company.

I decided to keep a tally of how many emails I received in one day: Friday, 21 Oct. The number was 14, which was fairly average. It's never less than 10 a day and sometimes more than 25. Plus there are numerous cold calls a day to my office number, which, unsurprisingly, I don't return.

The first approach on Friday was a sweet one, coming from sweetsandcandy.co.uk, and offering tasty promotional treats for corporate hospitality.

A recruitment agency, Consumer Recruitment,  then contacted me saying they've recently had great success in placing butlers and clubbers. Well, could always be useful.....

There was a biggie before lunch, an offer of "The Intel Cup" if we decided to sponsor the Football League. I didn't like to highlight our very small scale sponsorship of struggling local team Swindon Town FC.

Now behind the daily deluge is the sad story of agencies going to the wall because of the recession, and desperate people trying to win new business. And I know what it's like being set targets for getting credentials meetings because there was a brief time when I had to do this, and it was torture.

A few tips to agencies on how to get breakthrough. Organising lunches with compelling speakers and networking opportunities is always a good way to get interest. But not giving 2 days' notice because, yep, we know why you've done that and it doesn't make us feel good, so we'll always say we're busy.

Basic research helps. A more personal approach, based on a quick Google search of what Intel has been up to in the UK, is bound to win my attention. I won't be impressed if you emailed my predecessor  (who left the role three years ago) because if your database is out of date, I'm sure the rest of your marketing will be too.

Boasting about you have "turned round" other companies doesn't do it for me. An agency recently sent me a lurid case study about how Nokia is in dire straits and they plan to relaunch the company. Ouch.

I don't like the hard nosed,  "assumptive close" practiced by US companies. I seem to be on a database in the US and the favoured approach there is to send me a meeting invitation "on behalf" of someone senior who can only offer me 30 minutes. As if they're doing me a favour!

Here's one I had on Friday: "I'd like to get on your calendar - please let me know a DATE and a TIME that works for you" - a vice president of Saving the Day Mobilezapp Apps (in the US). Whoa, stop shouting!

Spelling and punctuation mistakes will never endear any agency that is offering to approach consumers on our behalf. I automatically delete any emails where the humble apostrophe has been abused.

My top tip for agencies would be:- you're in it for the long haul. If a company is happy with its agencies, that might change in a couple of years. So keep a friendly dialogue going. Don't keep sending me PDFs to read. Remember some small personal details. Don't get peevish about me not returning your calls. If I'm not shopping for an agency, with the best will in the world I'm not going to call you back just because you want to pitch your business.

One of the best approaches I had recently was from OgilvyOne. The UK chief executive had read my entry in the Little Black Book of Marketing and referred to it. This established a bond, and I have kept their details on file.....which is not something I do very often.


Matt Ramsay said...

I really enjoyed this post, it's very refreshing to hear a perspective from the 'other side of the fence'. I had a client who admitted that he never answered his landline, as it was always a new agency looking for work.

I'm sure many agencies don't think about this before firing off the same old email or making the scripted call.

And I wholly agree; always make it personal and relevant - but most of all make it interesting, to you, the recipient - an agency has to be creative stand out to make it to the top of a very long list, much like our work has to for brands...


p.s. can I put some time in your diary?!

Maggie May said...

Well as I haven't a business I am not pestered like you. However, I check my spam sometimes and have a real giggle. Most spam gets filtered but occasional ones get through. I also have found an occasional *real* email in the spam.
Liked your post. Very sensible approach.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

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