Marketing - Effective Outgoing Voice-Mail Tatics, a 20-Minute Message That Works

by Michael Merrick Crooks - Date: 2007-04-25 - Word Count: 559 Share This!

So I'm on a tight deadline and I get this guy's voice mail, "Hi. I'm either on the phone or away from my desk. Leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can." I'm sure you've heard it. You probably have it on your machine or know someone who does. I hate it.

"I'm either on the phone, or away from my desk" is the same as saying, "Leave a message and have fun twisting in the wind until I call you back." Even worse is, "I'm either out of the office or away from my desk." Yep. That's helpful. Reaaal helpful. About the only thing that overused, trite and cliche outgoing voice mail message tells me is that you're not really sure where you are. And it certainly doesn't give me any indication of when I can expect you to call me back. I'd like some predictability.

Today, the technology exists so that we don't have to leave people twisting in the wind. Giving customers, clients and prospects some idea of when they'll hear from you, shows them that you are mindful of their need or want to get a hold of you. Here's how I handle it.

About 9 years ago I discovered a little thing called busy call forwarding. If I'm talking on the phone the call is forwarded to a message that says, "Thank you for calling. I'm in the office but I'm on the phone. Please leave a message and in most cases I'll call you back in 20 minutes." I get lots of compliments on my 20 -minute message. And, it impresses people when I do in fact, call them back in 20 minutes.

If I'm out of the office the call goes to my regular answering machine that says, "Thank you for calling. We're out of the office, but please leave a message. We'll call you back as soon as possible most likely, today. If you need to reach me sooner, call my cell phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx."

Either way, the caller has SOME idea of when I'll call them back. They can also call my cell phone. If I'm not in a meeting, I answer it. I usually check my office messages about every hour when I'm away.

Now some people, mostly real estate types, are right on top of things with voice mail messages that say something such as, "Today is Friday (insert date) I'll be out this morning but back in this afternoon after 2pm. Please leave a message etc." Ahhh, the sweet sound of predictability.

Marketing your business is more than ads, signs, press releases and business networking. Marketing encompasses everything you do to influence the decision of your client, prospect or inquiry. That includes your outgoing voice mail message.

Call yourself tonight. Listen to your outgoing message. If that voice-mail message is the first impression someone has of you, is that the impression you want them to have? Ask yourself, "Is that the best first impression I can make?"

Life is unpredictable enough. Any time you can add predictability to someone's life - you're telling them that you're in control. You're also telling them you care. What is your voice mail message telling your callers? If it does little more than tell the caller that you don't know whether you're on the phone or away from your desk you might wanna change it.

Related Tags: marketing, voice mail, efffective phone use, outgoing message

Michael Merrick Crooks is a 23-year advertising veteran, copywriter and founder of Crooks Advertising Alliance. His firm, based near Lansing, Michigan (USA) is a creative strike-force that provides advertising, creative problem-solving and promotional marketing services to a diverse client base. His insightful, fresh thinking provokes thought and provides unique perspective on advertising and promotional marketing. From logo development and brochure writing, design and production to targeted, promotional concepts, Crooks has an uncanny ability to look at the same thing everyone else does and see something different. For more thought-provoking marketing articles and insights visit or

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