Wednesday morning, August 6th, 2008.
I just got off the phone with the S.C.O.R.E. branch office. I wont tell you exactly which office in Arizona, because I don't want to ruffle feathers this early in the morning.
If you're not familiar with S.C.O.R.E., it's a non-profit organization of retired men and women who currently are, or have been successful entreprenuers. Every city in America has a S.C.O.R.E. office..I think.
Their job is to help you make important decisions when it comes to starting and running your small business. A score office for your area is easily found through your local S.B.A. (Small Business Administration).
I'm not going to speculate, but when I called my score office and the man at the other end sounded more like an obscene phone call than a real person who wanted to help me, I didn't know whether to just hang up, or ask him if he needed me to dial 911.
Oh, yea, complete with heavy breathing and what sounded like a snort while eating pizza at the same time. He actually spoke in plain english, but I couldn't tell you the greeting.
I wasn't paying attention because I was still trying to make sense of the strange noises this guy could make.
I had a simple question to an email they sent their subscribers. Since I'm one of their subscribers, I got the email (duh). This email was advertising a local seminar about "Web Based Marketing".
I copy and pasted the headline, as well as the meat of the email for you below, but I've left out the name of the city, and I changed the name of the individual I was suppose to contact to protect the innocent.
The "*** ****" is simply the name of the city.
The headline read..
"CRUISE TO SUCCESSFUL WATERS WITH
*** **** SCORE"
It had a photograph of a cruise boat on the ocean under that line.
Were you impressed with that headline?
Neither was I.
Between the headline and the meat of the email, they included the time, date, and location of the seminar, and a quote from Thomas H. Huxley.
Looking back on this experience, I find this quote pretty amusing. The quote read..
"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not…
Thomas H. Huxley"
I could be wrong..but I don't think the guy I was talking to on the phone ever heard of Tomas H. Hxley.
Now for the meat of the letter..It read..
"This is a **** ***** SCORE sponsored Seminar that we host four times a year.* It has been especially designed and is instructed by a professional internet marketing guru.* The over-all concept is to help business owners maximize the effectiveness of their websites, grow traffic to their site and learn the application of marketing tactics."
Here's where I got curious..Who was this "professional internet marketing guru?"
Surely, if you wanted to maximize the effectiveness of your website, doesn't it make sense to be as specific as possible? That's the advice that the late, great Gary Halbert gives. And he's not the only one that would give the same advice.
I mean, the meat of the letter builds curiosity, but not much credibilty.
The seminar costs 35 bucks if you order in advance, and it's $40 at the door. The email also included instructions for registration, and if I had questions, I was to call the SCORE office and ask for Marge *****.
So, that's exactly what I did. I called and asked for Marge.
After mentally recovering from the strange sounds I mentioned earlier, I didn't mention that I was also blessed with a belch and more heavy breathing to emphisize the action of his getting up out of a chair to find out about the question I had for him.
He didn't know the answer.
This guy sounded like he'd be totally winded after runing 3 feet.
My watch said it took him about 5 seconds to seperate his ass from his chair, and another 45 seconds to get back on the line and say...
"Call back tomorrow and ask for Marge"
What a classy guy.
I told him "thanks" and hung up the phone as quickly as I could.
Now, I'm leaving out some minor details that happened on this call, because I like to avoid stupidity at all costs. Sometimes, it's just unavoidable.
If this was the kind of guy that was answering MY phones, he would be sent out back to the woodshed or simply fired on the spot.
The way I understand how SCORE seminars work, is that you contact them, and they help you promote your seminar. Most are hosted at a SCORE location, not a ritzy hotel. I could be wrong.
Let me ask you three questions...
1) How many of you would attend this seminar?
2) How many of you would actually call tomorrow and ask for Marge?
3) How many of you would be pissed that this guy was one of the links in a chain to help you promote YOUR seminar?
There's some good marketing lessons in this short but true story. I'd love to hear your thoughts.