Stuff and Nonsense

Malarkey is Andy Clarke, a UK based designer, author and speaker who has a passion for design, CSS and web accessibility.

Andy has been working on the web for almost ten years. He is a visual web designer and author and he founded Stuff and Nonsense in 1998. Andy regularly writes about creating beautiful, accessible web sites and he speaks at events worldwide. Andy is the author of Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design, published by New Riders in 2006.

Now 'that's' how to SPAM

If he had not asked my permission, his email would have been deleted immediately and his domain added to my junk mail filters.

So I'm sat infront of my Mac yesterday and at about 4.30, the phone rang. Now I've written before about telephone salesmen, but this was a call with a difference.

(I've changed the names so various reasons.)

Caller: Hi, my name is Roger Daltrey from Who's Better Software. I'm calling to ask if it will be OK to send you an email about our web monitoring software?

Now I'm impressed so far. Not only did Roger identify himself upfront to save me the job of interogating him, he actually asked, and very politely I should add, if it was OK to contact me. My defences came down and, Holy smokes, I even asked him right there what his software did.

Roger asked for my email address, of which I have several (one of which is designed to be read only when Jupiter is in conjunction with Uranus and it's also a full moon.)

Malarkey: That depends, how often will you be sending me information and will I be added to your database?

Caller: I will only send you one, and if you don't reply you won't receive any more communications from us.

So I gave him my email, this guy has class.

Now, here is the odd thing

For the next two hours I was actively waiting for this guy to email me! Two hours in which I was wondering about his software. Maybe it will be really good and I can use it myself? Maybe I can recommend it to my clients? For two hours I am thinking about his product. When was the last time that happened from a cold call? And all because he was polite, respectful and was not so arrogant as to think that it was OK just to waste my time by spamming me.

At the end of the call, I asked Roger where he found my details. On your web site he replied. Now my web sites list my email address, it was there for Roger to see. He could have spammed me without asking. But he did ask, and in doing that he made me think about his product and about the experience of dealing with him (hell, I'm even blogging about it).

Things could have worked out very differently

1. If he had immediately launched into a sales pitch for his product on the phone, I would have cut him off at the knees and got on with my day.

2. If he had not asked my permission, his email would have been deleted immediately and his domain added to my junk mail filters.

But he didn't do either of these things. I wanted to receive his email and...

... when it arrived I read it.

Now 'that's' how to SPAM.

Replies

  1. #1 On November 29, 2006 11:41 AM Andrew Disley said:

    Was it worth the wait?

  2. #2 On November 29, 2006 11:42 AM Lee Wilson said:

    Maybe salespeople are actually getting the idea that we don't want to be sold at.

    Hang on a minute, some bloke selling me doublue glazing.

    p.s. your email came through as SPAM in my apple mail, ironic hey.

    Lee

  3. #3 On November 29, 2006 12:12 PM Graham Bancroft said:

    Blimey, I didn't think Roger D would ever have to work again, he must be really desperate for the cash!

  4. #4 On November 29, 2006 01:21 PM LEOPiC said:

    Well Boss, I think you just found a NEW marketing tool

  5. #5 On November 29, 2006 01:42 PM Nathanael said:

    I would have responded the same way, in fact I've had that happen a couple of times before - except of course for those very annoying international scam/spam people who call me up about importing oil or something. As soon as I answer the phone and hear that crusty international call signal quality, the 2 second lag, the accent ... it's over.

  6. #6 On November 29, 2006 03:04 PM simon r jones said:

    sounds like good CRM to me. No doubt you'll be getting a follow-up call in a week, but I must admit that's a very polite and far more effective method of cold calling.

  7. #7 On November 29, 2006 04:50 PM Josh B. said:

    If he asks for permission, it's not SPAM, right? He settles for being a telemarketer in lieu of being a spammer.

  8. #8 On November 29, 2006 07:56 PM Tom-Eric Gerritsen said:

    Wow, this sounds like something I might have to try when I'm running on low on stuff to work on.

  9. #9 On November 29, 2006 08:02 PM zuzu said:

    I am confused. Why is Roger Daltrey selling software? I guess the occasional stint on The Bill didn't work out. Or maybe he got into the web monitoring software business due to Pete Townsend's infarctions. In any regard, now we all know how to sell you something. Wrap it up in mod clothes, give it some manners, pretend it's not spam. Life's a breeze. Ca-ching :)

  10. #10 On November 29, 2006 08:13 PM Malarkey said:

    (Ed says: "Errr, just to be clear. It wasn't really Roger Daltrey on the phone. If it had been, we would still be scraping Malarkey off the ceiling :)")

  11. #11 On November 29, 2006 08:23 PM zuzu said:

    kidding... was trying to be droll

  12. #12 On November 29, 2006 10:36 PM Ben Buchanan said:

    Now we need to get this message out to the ten million other spammers who haven't got the idea yet...

    Great story though. Kinda sad that someone being polite is grounds for a "wow" blog post - but that's the world we live in!

  13. #13 On November 29, 2006 11:37 PM Steven Clark said:

    The real problem is one man's spam is another man's (or woman's) marketing message - pollies and good causes included here. What spammers really need to learn is to not phone me up and take me out of the zone in the first place when I'm working, probably to avoid ringing me when I'm relaxing with a beer and finally if they ever do ring me to accept the derogatory goodbye I habitually greet them with.

    I'm not sure there's a good way to pitch by email anymore - its just deleted.

    Am I much different than the average business though? Telemarketing to me is spam - and aggressively so. I don't really think politeness would have changed my response to the intrusion. Interesting article though Andy - still no printmaking press? Its nearly xmas.

  14. #14 On November 30, 2006 12:12 PM Alan Wyatt said:

    After registering with TPS years ago, I have recently been receiving a spate of calls, usually originating abroad.

    Last Saturday I got a call (originating from abroad) that went something like this.


    "Hello I am calling ... Abbey..."

    "If this is about a loan I don't want one."

    "Sir, I can't tell you what it is about until I verify your details."

    "Well, there's no point as I don't buy services from telephone calls anyway.."

    "Sir, if you can just confirm your date of birth.."

    "I'm not telling you anything about my personal details!"

    "Sir, I can't continue to tell you what the call is until you confirm your date of birth"

    "I am not telling you my date of birth, you could be from an organised crime syndicate"

    "Yes, sir, I appreciate that. If you could just confirm your date of birth"

    "No"

    "Well, I have your date of birth. If I tell you it, will you confirm the first line of your address"

    "You can do what you want, but I am not confirming any details to you, I have told you that"

    [Says date of birth]

    "I can neither confirm nor deny those details"

    "Sir, I can not proceed until you tell me your date of birth"

    ""You're not from Abbey are you? They don't call me on Saturday evenings"

    "I am calling from GVI"

    "I'm going to report your company"

    I do enjoy wasting their time and trying to get one over on them and it did remain polite. I was asked my date of birth more times than quoted here.

    I get calls from mobile phone companies, but do not treat them so politely. They insinuate that they are from Orange, and invariably 'insist' that Orange provided my phone number. When I ask them to confirm my number, they don't know. I tell them they are using random diallers with Orange pre-fix, breaking TPS law etc.

  15. #15 On December 4, 2006 01:03 PM Tom said:

    You know when you phone up, well, anyone, and you get the "please press 1..2..3 etc" its really quite annoying.
    Banks have now taken this one step further and i received a phone call the other day from my bank, and after a few seconds of silence an automated voice came on and said,

    "Hello, this is a call from xxxx, please press 1 to continue"

    I thought, bit of a cheek, but I did, and then it presented me with 7 or 8 different options! Now I'll just about hack phoning them and expecting to push buttons, but for them to phone me and make me do it, bit out of order!

    Also - love the blog with the tin cans & string, fantastic!

    Tom

  16. #16 On December 30, 2006 11:45 AM Ben Hunt said:

    Funny. I've had two calls from the same people. They'd forgotten I'd already said Yes on the first call.

    And I never got the email...

This article was originally published by Andy Clarke on his personal web site And All That Malarkey and is reproduced here for archive purposes. This article is published under a Creative Commons By Attribution License 2.0.

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