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Voice Mail and E-Mail: Eight Simple Rules

By Bill Radin

Voice mail and e-mail can be powerful recruiting and marketing tools—but only if you treat them like their first cousin, direct marketing.

Until a few years ago, the term “direct marketing” referred mainly to direct mail and telemarketing. Now that voice mail and e-mail are in common use, you can add them to the list of direct marketing techniques.

Direct marketing is based on the assumption that your message needs to reach so many people, it can’t be personally delivered (or least, not delivered with any real quality of interactivity). The number of prospects is simply too great, and therefore too expensive to “hand deliver” to each person.

However, in recruiting, there’s another—and possibly more relevant—basis for direct marketing: the belief (real or imagined) that none of your prospects can be reached directly by telephone. I’ve been told by several recruiters that so many prospective candidates and employers filter their phone calls that it’s virtually impossible to get through to people to make a real-time presentation. If this is true, then outbound voice mail and e-mail may be the only viable way to reach new prospects.

A One-Way Ticket
If you leave a voice mail message or send an e-mail blast, youre sending a one-way message that’s incapable of answering questions, handling concerns, or probing for referrals. So, the result can only be binary, either on or off. Your prospects either call you back (or e-mail you), or they don’t.

That means if you broadcast your message by voice mail or e-mail, you have to accept the limitations of the medium, and trade quality for quantity. Since you’re playing a numbers game with a low rate of return (two percent with voice mail, far less with e-mail), you have to offset the inherent inefficiency of the technique by increasing the number of prospects. Which means that unless you have lots of prospects—or your message is truly important—don’t leave a voice mail message or send an e-mail.

Here are some tips when launching a voice mail or e-mail campaign:

1. Beef up your list. To offset the inefficiencies of the medium, you’ll need a large number of names, numbers or e-mail addresses in order to get a reasonable return.

2. Craft your message to get a response. Your “sale” will take the form of a callback, an e-mail reply, a resume attachment or a visit to your Web site.

3. Repetition is key. Even if you get a disappointing response, keep sending your message. Over time, you’ll build brand awareness and increase your chances of getting a response or making a sale.

4. Be prepared for success. Your only real opportunity to “sell” is when you get a call back, so have a script (or a strong presentation) ready for when people start responding. You may not get a second chance.

5. Don’t fatigue your list. Repetition is good; suffocation is bad. If you deliver the same message too often, people will get annoyed, and your response rate will decline.

6. Always test your message. If you have a list of 1,000 e-mail prospects, send your message to the first 250. If the response is good, send the rest. If the response is bad, rework your message or make corrections and send it to the next 250 prospects. Same thing with your voice mails: test your message with 10 people. If they all hang up on you, they’re telling you what they think of your message.

7. Clean your list. Direct marketers call this “list hygiene.” De-dupe and correct your list as often as you can, and make sure to honor all requests from those who want to be removed.

8. Be vigilant with your removes. It’s a common mistake to add new names you removed a couple of months ago. A simple clerical error on your part may offend a privacy fanatic.

As a safeguard, keep a DO NOT SEND list, and cross reference it before you start a new campaign. Even though voice mail and e-mail are non-interactive, they can still get terrific results—if you follow the rules.

 

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