We all get spam; there is no getting round it. But beyond the offers for watches, Viagra and porn, I get a lot of semi-legitimate business offers to help “improve my Web traffic,” and fill positions in my company. Considering that I’m a self-employed writer I have little use for either.
What is amazing to me however is that these e-mails come from small businesses! So to all those individuals and small firms that are trying to drum up work I have a message for you: JUST STOP! Sending out these blanket e-mails makes you look small-time. So unless you want to look like a fly by night start-up that is a bit clueless, get a clue.
What I also find surprising is that when I respond to say, “please stop contacting me,” I often get another response that says, “look, I’m just trying to build up my business.”
I’ve worked in public relations and actually my job was to improve search engine placement, and increase Web traffic. The agency where I was employed charged big dollars for this service, and I think we did it very well. For many businesses Web traffic was life or death for our clients, and we developed many tactics to increase eyeballs.
But at least once a month I had to explain to my bosses, who had to explain to the clients why some little firm claimed they could the exact same thing for what sounded like a ridiculously small amount of money. My answer was typically, “let them do it. If this little guy can do it better then we should change our business.”
The truth is that most of these companies failed to deliver on the promise. And truth be told there are countless factors in what drives Web traffic. But that’s worthy of another post.
For now, and more to the point I argued that most PR firms get their business from referrals, much the way an individual finds a doctor or dentist. OK, in today’s world of direct marketing you might try a new neighborhood dentist, but are you going to trust your businesses’ online marketing campaign on some firm that send you a blanket e-mail? Likewise, would you want to use an executive recruiter who contacts you the same way?
A spam e-mail—and let’s be honest, a random e-mail to a business contact is spam—seldom opens doors or even greases the wheel. Most freelancers I know would never randomly spam to get work. It just isn’t good for business. As a freelance writer I make contacts at industry events, and also try to use referrals to reach editors when in search of work. I wouldn’t send blanket e-mails to a dozen magazines saying, “I’m a writer, and I charge less than other writers. So you should hire me.”
But that’s how many small recruiting and Web marketing e-mails come off. The method of scatter shot e-mail—where you send out enough in hopes that someone will respond—is a poor way of doing business. It is better to take the route of attending seminars, providing a sales package and working to obtain the right contact. Otherwise you’re just competing with those Viagra e-mails!