Voice mail and e-mail can be powerful recruiting and marketing
tools-but only if you treat them like their first cousin, direct
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
A One-Way Ticket
If you leave a voice mail message or send an e-mail blast, you're
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 importan-don't leave a voice mail message or send an
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
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