As an inbound marketing specialist, I know how to spot a failed outbound marketing attempt when I see it. So when a salesman approaches me and spits his spiel, I can usually save us both the time and energy by politely declining or cutting to the chase and explaining what it is that he can do for me.
So needless to say, I was surprised when an inbound form I filled out on a school’s website requesting information about a post-graduate degree program turned into a tidal wave of outbound marketing techniques that eventually forced me to change my phone number.
Expecting a link to download a PDF detailing the coursework of the school’s graphic design program, I was instead immediately bombarded with phone calls and emails from the school’s admission program—within seconds of clicking “confirm.” Now, as a marketing expert, I’m aware that persistency can sometimes be the key to making a sale. But after politely explaining to the over-aggressive admissions agent that I won’t be ready to sit down and discuss enrollment for some time, I expected the calls to cease. They did not.
After fielding over a dozen phone calls over the next couple days, I began receiving emails with the following subject lines: “We’re Still Trying to Reach You” and “We Need to Speak to You Immediately.” From a glance at the second subject line, I half expected the email to be from my bank warning me about identity fraud. But no—just a painfully overenthusiastic admissions salesman blowing his lead.
Normally, at this point, I would tell someone who keeps contacting me after I’ve asked to be removed from his or her call list to screw off. But there’s a lesson to be learned here.
The school’s admissions team used an inbound marketing method to essentially booby-trap their potential leads and then drown them in a flood of outbound marketing. Don’t make this mistake. The point of inbound is not to find customers to attack with outdated outbound techniques, but rather to establish paths leading potential customers to you when they’re interested and engaged.
After reflecting on my experience with the “pseudo-inbound trap,” I put together a list of 5 quick and easy ways for someone using traditional outbound marketing techniques to blow their leads:
1. Ignore your potential customer’s wishes. This is the first step to f*cking up your sale. The easiest way to do this is to call your lead repeatedly after they ask you not to do so. Don’t forget to be rude and slightly condescending when speaking to your lead.
2. Push products the lead doesn’t want or need. Are you an insurance salesman? Sell your client a Rolex. Be confident. Don’t take “no” for an answer.
3. Send pesky emails with increasingly panicked subject lines. The goal here is to show your lead that you’re never, ever going to give up on the sale. Here are some sample subject lines for follow-up emails:
Day 1: [Name], Thanks for Surrendering Your Personal Contact Information to Our Sales Agents
Day 5: Urgent: the Clock is Ticking! Download Your Free [eBook, Pamphlet, Porn] Today!
Day 10: [Name], We’re Still Trying to Reach You (and We Won’t Give Up Until We Find You)
Day 30: Why Aren’t You Answering Our Calls????
4. Hit your leads with awkward and irrelevant sales rebuttals. After falsely assuring your lead that you understand where they’re coming from, make sure to point out that their wants, desires, and opinions don’t matter.
Bonus Tip: If you’re speaking to the lead in person, take a couple of steps into their personal space to make them feel pressured. Hover over them if possible. If you’re speaking to the lead on the phone, sigh a lot and interrupt them when they begin speaking. If they hang up, call back and start your spiel from the beginning.
5. Promise perks you could never actually come through with. People love free shit. But the key to this is to think big—people know they can get a new mouse pad and other tchotchke for free at a trade show, so promise to give them something they can’t get anywhere else, like an elephant.
The bottom line: consumers know how to spot—and ignore—a bad outbound marketing campaign. Learning what not to do is the first step in figuring out the best path for your inbound marketing strategy.