No one likes junk mail, spam or telemarketing calls, but all of these are big money makers, and the trick has been to convince consumers to opt-in to services. One such company that is forging ahead is Vontoo Corporation, the first permission-based, on-demand voice messaging system designed for business, entertainment marketing, as well as for colleges, universities and not-for-profits. Bob Compton, the company’s founder and CEO, tells how this can get organizations and small business through the rough economic patch and increase sales.
AllBusiness.com: It is safe to say that no one really liked getting those automated calls, but a big part of it was that so many of these sounded like they could be scams, even if they were not, notably the offers to reduce credit card interest rates and offers of extended warranties for automobiles? To be more specific with my question, how do you gain or regain consumer trust, even in a permission-based business model?
Bob Compton: Since Vontoo is entirely permission-based, we serve the customers who do want to receive information via voice message. We cater specifically to professional and collegiate sports teams, college admissions, bursar, and development offices and retail and rent-to-own companies. What we have found is that people want to receive these calls for different reasons, depending upon the industry.
In professional and collegiate sports, fans enjoy receiving calls from their favorite players or coaches, getting them excited for upcoming games and making them aware of deadlines for purchasing tickets.
In college admissions, bursar and development offices, call recipients generally appreciate the reminders that are sent by phone – for instance, a reminder that the deadline for course registration is approaching. Whereas students might otherwise forget about this deadline, a reminder sent directly to their phones is more likely to catch their attention that a direct mail piece or e-mail.
Consumers trust voice messages coming from these organizations because they only receive these alerts if they have opted-in. Additionally, the consumers who do opt-in are generally very loyal supporters of these businesses or organizations and thus have an inherent trust that messages received from these organizations are legitimate.
AllBusiness.com: Can you explain Vontoo a bit for the readers? How do you get consumers interested in signing up for a permission-based marketing program given that the scammers and fly-by-night businesses have tainted the market?
Bob Compton: As I mentioned before, the consumers who sign up to receive calls from our customers are generally very local, and therefore there is an inherent trust. We sell our service to our customers (who send the messages to their fan bases, student bodies, customers, etc.) by demonstrating how effective these messages can be. By allowing businesses and organizations to contact a group of people instantly, expressing enthusiasm and connecting personally with them, Vontoo provides a very valuable service. When customers do sign up to receive alerts by voice message, they are assured that their phone numbers will never be shared with a third party and that they may opt-out of receiving messages at any time they wish.
AllBusiness.com: Given that the “robocallers” have essentially been kicked to the curb, so to speak, there is likely going to be greater competition in this space from those companies. Do you see this as added competition to Vontoo, and do you think that some of those companies that relied on the robocallers can survive or at least adapt?