Have I Got A Pitch For You!

I received an early Christmas present in the form of an article idea this week, when I received what was at once one of the best and worst pitches I've ever heard. Here is the phone message I received: "Hi, Bill McCloskey [said in a chipper tone], my name is [blank]. I don't know if you have more than enough clients you can handle at this point, but my company gets you new clients, guaranteed in writing, and we've been doing it since 1974. I hope you are open to hearing what we have to say, and I look forward to talking to you soon. Take care."

What a great pitch, I thought. Who has enough clients? Guaranteed in writing! Thirty-two years in business. I immediately forwarded the message on to my vice president of sales, saying, "Now there's a pitch."

My VP, being smarter and wiser, immediately wrote back to me: "It would have been nice if he had left his phone number and company name."

D'oh! Right! I'm so enamored with the pitch I didn't realize the salesman had left out the two most important ingredients of any pitch: the name of the company and a way to get back in touch.

But the story gets better. Our intrepid salesman calls me again the next day, and this time I pick up the phone. He takes me to a Web site for a demo of the product--but not directly. I have to type in the domain name SLASH blah blah blah dot html. And what greets me is one of the saddest excuses for a Web site I've ever seen. No logo, no graphics: just a page with some cheesy text and a link to some "Testimonials"--unreadable photocopies of some testimonial letters from companies I've never heard of.

Out of curiosity, I backspace to the main domain while the salesman pitches on. What I find at the main domain is not a company logo, or description of the company, or even contact info for the company. Instead, I find a picture of a house for sale. Seems like a nice house. $209,000 and the taxes are only $2,839. Doesn't say where it is, though.

So you have to ask yourself: who is going to buy from this guy? There is no company name, no company Web site, just a really bad Web page which took, it seems, 20 seconds to put up. And these guys are going to get me leads?

As humorous as this all seemed to me, I had to admit that most of today's e-mail marketers are not much better. As we have reported, too many brands take the first step and make me an intriguing offer to sign up for their e-mail newsletter--they make the pitch--but then fail to follow up with a welcome letter or regular e-mail communication.

In many e-mail marketing efforts, the Can Spam address is obscured by using a P.O. Box instead of an actual company address. Legal, but like my friend above, am I really going to trust a company that uses a P.O. Box? As Charles Stiles, AOL's Postmaster, stated at the Email Insider Summit: If you act like a spammer, you'll get treated like a spammer.

As an industry, we have to stop giving a good pitch only to follow up with bupkus. Here's hoping we do better in 2007.