I can still remember my first time encountering an answering machine - I was so flabbergasted by the experience all I could do was laugh and barely let the device know who I was. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far away.
Today we all have the ability to know who’s calling us and to have that caller leave us a message. It’s just something we take for granted. Unfortunately a lot of businesses don’t use this stealthy little device as a component in their marketing strategy and that’s a missed opportunity.
I can’t tell you how many businesses I call, when I actually use the smart phone as a phone, that have no outgoing voice message. It’s amazing. In fact it happened last night as I tried to see who was open for New Year’s Eve. While many businesses do have an outgoing voice message, but it’s either the default that came with the phone or the most unenthusiastic greeting. Bleh - that’s not guerrilla marketing!
You already know you should still have a website, of course, so there’s a basic thing to have on your outgoing voice message. If you have a retail location, don’t forget the hours. You could also change the message seasonally with greetings relevant to the various holidays or seasons around. You could even have fun with all the weird holidays we have in the US and center your message around those.
Most importantly, have some fun with your outgoing messages. Nobody likes these but people who call you should go away with a smile and some sense of confidence that you’re going to call them back.
A long, long time ago in a different galaxy I used to work as a telemarketing for high-end software (I hated that job!) and I would put a mirror in front of me so I would smile when I talked to the people who would actually pick up the phone. This isn’t a bad trick to use when recording your own outgoing messages as well.
But what if you took a drudgery task, recording outgoing messages, and had fun with it? Imagine adding a tip of the week or a helpful hint to the message. How about a funny saying relating to your business, or even a special coupon code that could be redeemed for something?
One time I asked people to leave their best animal noises and I still have those recorded messages years later - they were hilarious. Of course this wouldn’t be appropriate for all businesses but it’s never bad to be different.
You could also add little-known facts about your business or some other item to encourage people to look at you for more than just your main product or service.
No matter what, an outgoing voice message on your answering machine/voice mail is just one teeny component of branding your business. While it might be something few people hear, those who do may truly enjoy what you have to say. Or just be completely unimpressed which is never a good way to leave customers and prospects. After all, it is called an outgoing message so have some fun and be outgoing!