Will This Offline Marketing Idea Land Me in Jail?

38 replies
I have a few clients that own home repair businesses. A service that I thought about adding was to contact homeowners that post their house for sale or rent in craigslist or local marketing with a text messaging saying something like

" Hey Todd, I saw that you are trying to rent your house on Plume ST. Jakes Home Repair is offering a 15% discount and free estimates for all new customers. Check out his work jakeshomerepairpics.com"

I plan on sending these text messages from google voice numbers.
Now can I get into legal trouble for sending a text message to someone who advertises their house for rent online. I will just send this one text and put it on them to respond. Can anyone see me getting into legal or other problems with this? Is it worth the risk?
#idea #jail #land #marketing #offline
  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    That would be classed as spam.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kan
    Not if you don't get caught.
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    • Profile picture of the author Richard Van
      Originally Posted by Kan View Post

      Not if you don't get caught.
      Thats not exactly the sort of advice thats really worth giving out.

      To the OP, you at least have the ability to think outside the box but sadly I'm not sure it's a route worth taking on this occasion.

      On a positive note, keeping coming up with ideas and I'm sure you'll do well sir.
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    • Profile picture of the author cbrauer
      Originally Posted by Kan View Post

      Not if you don't get caught.

      Doing something wrong, unethical, or illegal because you are not going to get caught does not make it OK. It is like releasing or promoting a product claiming to make $10,000 and not being able to do it yourself. Just because it is someone elses product and "you" are not claiming to make $10,000 a month you are still lying to someone as a medium.

      Trust is the most important part of building a successful business of any kind.

      You can do whatever want, if it were me I would not do it.

      Just my opinion
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      • Profile picture of the author Willybeen
        Originally Posted by cbrauer View Post

        Doing something wrong, unethical, or illegal because you are not going to get caught does not make it OK. It is like releasing or promoting a product claiming to make $10,000 and not being able to do it yourself. Just because it is someone elses product and "you" are not claiming to make $10,000 a month you are still lying to someone as a medium.

        Trust is the most important part of building a successful business of any kind.

        You can do whatever want, if it were me I would not do it.

        Just my opinion

        Agreed... if you're not 100% ok with it, and you're asking about it on a forum... I personally would advise against it.

        I do in this case, legal repercussions would be unlikely, ESPECIALLY if it were only one message.

        You could check their numbers to the DNC list and call them though
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    • Profile picture of the author want2knowhow
      Originally Posted by Kan View Post

      Not if you don't get caught.
      LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! I'm sorry but that was just too tongue-in-cheek, funny!

      But all laughing aside...as the saying goes..."If ya gotta ask...then you already know the answer!"
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    No - I would not text them. Have no idea of the legality (especially for those who are on the no call lists) - but would you expect it to bring in business? I wouldn't as an unsolicited text ad is about the same in believability as a telemarketer.

    I think there is opportunity - but for direct mail, not invasive text messages.

    There is no tougher time to find someone to do repairs than when you need work done. A better method would be to send a coupon with a well written ad through the mail to people who listed their homes for sale.

    If a property has just been listed "for rent" chances are any work needed has been done. Those trying to sell in this market might be open to a good deal on hiring someone who could fix the "rough spots" in the house.

    I automatically delete any texts that are clearly ads - I don't read them beyond the first 3-4 words. However, a good coupon that comes in the mail is often saved or used.

    kay

    Another possibility is providing coupons to local real estate agents for them to pass on to new listings for work that is needed.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ashley Skuse
    There are various spam laws, but it would appear that unsolicited marketing messages are not completely illegal, it's just that there are laws to abide to.

    I'm not sure how it goes for text messaging, but here is some info on the CAN-SPAM Act in regards to e-mail: What Are The Laws Against Spam: CAN-SPAM Act

    e.g. you need to include their physical address, make it clear it's an advertisement, give them the option to opt-out, etc.

    From what I know, plenty of people on this forum chase potential clients with contact info they've found online, in directories, and so on.
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  • Profile picture of the author lanbo
    it's a grey area, don't risk it!
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  • Profile picture of the author Gerry Humphrey
    While I agree that it isn't worth risking, and I would consider it SPAM, do remember that most of the Craigslist listings have a notice on them, and if you ignore that you not only could have the person receiving the text/email on your back, you could also end up with CL on it as well.

    Towards the bottom of each listing is usually says
    • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary King
    Don't do it.

    Remember, there are many people that still don't have a text package on their cell plan, so they would also get charged for the message on their bill.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ashley Skuse
    Disregard my last post, that's more for business-to-business. Your idea could lead you to getting hugely fined.

    Generally, spammers constantly get away with it, but this doesn't mean you should do it. It's bad for reputation, and you never know when you'll come across somebody who actually files a complaint and will put effort into getting you into trouble.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Solem
    I think text messages and email lists are great, but only when someone first opts in to receive them.

    Possible legal issues aside, how likely would YOU be to do business with someone who sent you an unsolicited email or text message?

    I have to say I find it a rather strange trend that many guys looking to make $500 or more from getting a web design, offline marketing or in this case remodeling client...never seem to want to invest any money in marketing.

    There are so many other ways you could stand out from the crowd and get your sales message in front of prospects like this, like direct mail or maybe advertising on a site like byowner.com, but many will balk at the idea of spending $100 to make $500+ and instead waste much more of their time trying to do things as cheaply as possible.

    Sorry - end of rant - but I think there are many better and more effective ways to market your business without having to wonder whether it'll get you in trouble or not.

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
      Originally Posted by Steve Solem View Post

      There are so many other ways you could stand out from the crowd and get your sales message in front of prospects like this, like direct mail or maybe advertising on a site like byowner.com, but many will balk at the idea of spending $100 to make $500+ and instead waste much more of their time trying to do things as cheaply as possible. Steve
      I vote this post be post of the day on WF.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve Solem
        Originally Posted by MWGrubb58 View Post

        Steve... you said a mouthful of good advice.

        A lot of folks try to do things as cheaply as possible with little results.

        What's working now is STILL direct mail with an impactful offer. In addition, a specific website that handles a specific problem tied to local business... how hard is it to get to the top of Google with THOSE particulars?

        I'd spend $100 ALL DAY to get $500 in return.

        If not, $100 for $500... then $10 for $50 and scale up.

        Cheers,

        Millard
        Thanks Millard! We're definitely on the same wavelength here and I think direct mail would be ideal - and/or a joint venture with someone else already doing business with these people if cash were a little tight and the contractor just wanted to be able to pay for performance.

        Of course it helps to know the lifetime value of a client and how much it currently costs to get a new client - two numbers that most businesses are clueless about - but with a few educated guesses they could limit their risks and do some really effective marketing.

        Originally Posted by Amir Luis View Post

        I vote this post be post of the day on WF.
        lol - Hey thanks much Amir!

        All the best,

        Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author MWGrubb58
    Steve... you said a mouthful of good advice.

    A lot of folks try to do things as cheaply as possible with little results.

    What's working now is STILL direct mail with an impactful offer. In addition, a specific website that handles a specific problem tied to local business... how hard is it to get to the top of Google with THOSE particulars?

    I'd spend $100 ALL DAY to get $500 in return.

    If not, $100 for $500... then $10 for $50 and scale up.

    Cheers,

    Millard
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  • Profile picture of the author basstrackerboats
    You probably won't go to jail but to send text messages without the receiver opting in first is not legal.
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  • Profile picture of the author Darius.Chase
    Read This Post

    Instead of texting them, here's something that wont land you in jail:

    Simply call them up, and ask them if they would like to increase the value of their home by having a free checkup done. They all want to do that.

    Once your guy is there, he can then actually sell them on getting his services done after the "free checkup"
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  • Profile picture of the author Mehak
    Personally I think it's a very long winded process and not something that you can build a residual income around. It may be better to post a video or article online about your services.
    Hope this helps, all the best
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  • Profile picture of the author mr2monster
    Outside of any legalities (and the fact that CL posts on the bottom of their ads that you're not allowed to solicit), ask yourself this:

    If I posted something for sale, and then I got a spam text, how pissed off would I be? And how likely would I be to use someone that resorted to spamming my cell phone to get business?

    You might get a couple takers, but you'd sure piss off a bunch of other people in the process, which might not be too great for the branding of the company in general.
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    • Profile picture of the author bamsgt
      Originally Posted by mr2monster View Post

      Outside of any legalities (and the fact that CL posts on the bottom of their ads that you're not allowed to solicit), ask yourself this:

      If I posted something for sale, and then I got a spam text, how pissed off would I be? And how likely would I be to use someone that resorted to spamming my cell phone to get business?

      You might get a couple takers, but you'd sure piss off a bunch of other people in the process, which might not be too great for the branding of the company in general.
      This is true.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    I don't think it'd be worth the hassle and the legal ramifications. This is unsolicited texting, and if you tick off enough people by doing this you could easily land in a lot of legal trouble.
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  • Profile picture of the author OliviaSSLGuru
    Never attempt anything wrong if you dont have the confidence to do it. Its a risk. And even it will be a spam, so why waste you time in this.
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  • Profile picture of the author jake244
    I don't think this is a good idea at all, it would be considered spam.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      The idea in concept is a good one, but for reasons mentioned previously don't do it. I work with real estate agents in one of my niches, and they will have contractors to repair homes after a repo or foreclosure. That is in huge demand right now. You might try hooking your clients up with local real estate agents.
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      • Profile picture of the author deenydasso
        It's like the release or promote a product that claims to earn $ 10,000 and not being able to do it yourself. Just because it's someone else's product and "they" do not ask for $ 10,000 a month in which a person is lying still as a medium.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Clough
    OH PLEASE! People are so paranoid these days! Geez! What you are suggesting is called "aggressive Marketing".

    I don't personally do this, but I don't see any issue with it at all.
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    • Profile picture of the author DavidSimpson
      If you have to ask that question, it's probably not worth doing.

      Stick to your values as being your barometer of whether you should do something or not.

      There are plenty of other ways to generate leads. Grab some of the classic marketing books by Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Robert Cialdini etc...

      Very cheap way to grab some golden nuggets...
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      • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
        Originally Posted by DavidSimpson View Post

        If you have to ask that question, it's probably not worth doing.

        Stick to your values as being your barometer of whether you should do something or not....
        I stand behind and agree with that statement.....


        However... I also agree with the guy that says "don't be so paranoid"

        Just sayin.
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  • Profile picture of the author sandalwood
    Success81,

    As a former real estate broker, my advice is to go to their door and knock. If they are home, give them your presentation. If they aren't, and your local ordinance permits, leave a flyer.

    Here is what is wrong with leaving a flyer. It tells every would be burglar the person isn't home and invites naughtiness.

    IMHO it is always better, and more profitable, to do what you want to do eyeball to eyeball. You don't look like a sleaze ball that way.

    Just my 2 ยข.

    sandalwood
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  • Profile picture of the author focused
    You're squeamish about moving forward with this, and it definitely is a grey area or worse. So don't do it.
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    • Profile picture of the author escribe
      I too considered doing something similar but thought twice because it seems to me that it would be considered spam. Good on you for thinking outside the box though.

      One thing I was thinking though is wouldn't the person you're contacting have to complain that you're spamming them? I'm sure they wouldn't though, but this is where it's a "grey" area.

      The way I look at it is the same way I do with autoresponders, if they don't opt-in, then it's considered spam.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMUniversity
    Simply call or send them a basic - non spamming message first and see if they respond them hit them with pitch after.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Milburn
    As other have said a flyer or direct mail piece would work. But I think I saw some people mention JV.

    You say you have a few clients who do home repairs and improvements, so you have a group of people who know what they are doing.

    Out there, there are land-lords and property owners who are looking for good people who work hard and provide a good service.

    Then there is you, the marketing guy.

    If it was me, I would visit the land-lords and sell the services of these businesses you market. Sell them on the USP.

    Then when they get work take a commission.
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