(written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz)
My wife, Debi, got a call the other day on her cell from an annuity lawyer’s bird-dog. This fellow human being was asking about a long ago cashed-out structured settlement that had involved my late wife.
Someone calling to ask for the-deceased-woman-who-had-once-lived-where-she-now-did felt to Debi like a hard kick in the stomach. With a stricken look, she handed me her cell phone and whisp- / whimpered, “Talk to her, please?”
Now I am not exactly the man I remember I used to be –the older I get, the better I was– but when somebody hurts my Little Lamb, I taste blood. I asked the woman on the phone what she wanted, and she replied she was trying to contact [the late Mrs. Ingalls].
“How did you get this number?”
“It is in our database…”
Then I did something on purpose that I never, ever do– I unleashed a torrent of profanity into the receiver. “Well, your database is [expletive]!,” I thundered. “The person you are trying to contact is deceased! Get this number out of your [expletive] database!”
“Well, I don’t have to listen to this,” she said quietly as if to herself, and hung up.
So here in order of worst to first, is how I believe marketing ought to be done:
9. Call the wrong person and say something that hurts or embarrasses them.
8. Call the wrong person with the wrong information that simply misleads them.
7. Call the right person and say something that hurts or embarrasses them.
6. Call the right person with the wrong information that simply misleads them.
5. Call the wrong person with nothing really to say.
4. Call the right person with nothing to say.
3. Call the wrong person with something useful to say
2. Call the right person with something useful to say.
1. Have something useful to say, but wait for the right person to call you.
You say it best when you say nothing at all. Wait for the question before you try to give your answer. Stop talking when you run out of things to say. If you can’t say something nice about a person, don’t say anything.
So, I chose “Option 7” from the above list; I deliberately said something that hurt and embarrassed the ‘right’ person, when I could easily have chosen “Option 1.”
Because we have been bombarded by these types of calls. We have tried to explain their errors to the callers. The calls have not slowed down. So I decided to make the callers’ experiences a bit like the experiences we feel: I wanted the caller to wince.
I was wrong. I could have done better.