My vendetta with Fax Marketing

June 16th, 2009

A while back I had a new client who wanted to work (within a reasonable budget) to grow their market share.  Like most small businesses they had dabbled in a few bits and pieces.

Their latest attempt was to spend $1800 on Fax Marketing – they got a blast out to every local businesses fax machine.  Not once but twice.  Just to make sure they got it.

First round – return was zip.  Second round – return was zip.

Figured that was the end of it.  Nope.  They then sunk the same amount back into it, in the hope that by annoying people enough they would pick up the phone to order.

Nevertheless this wasn’t a good sign of business aptitude (amongst other signs) so we parted ways.

Since then I have come across others doing Fax Marketing.  Fax Marketing is the worst kind of spam – not only is it rubbish but now you have to physically deal with it – and once you’re on a list they keep coming.  Sure if it was relevant, anticipated and timely it could work, but it’s not.

So please if you’re looking at Fax Marketing give it a miss – pay a student $1800 to play with internet marketing (if you must spend the money) you are more likely to get a solid return – or at least know where your money was wasted.

Even better stick with the marketing basics (talk to your customers, listen to them, obsess about helping them).  The basics build real business.

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6 Responses to “My vendetta with Fax Marketing”

  1. Phil Osborne Says:

    Loving the latest batch of insights, seems like you’ve sharpened your pencil LOL

    i actually have never owned a fax machine and do not understand the reason for their continued existence BUT strokes for folks in this one… the case you report highlights the inappropriateness of the fax for the campaign, though i can imagine there still is a place for them IF THE CUSTOMERS IN THE TARGET PREFER IT… I can think of a particular demographic where this might be the case (and conversely they are likely to reject electronic overtures wiht as much passion as we reject fax)…

    This is a mistake I have made before, substituting my views (as a customer) for my customers views… its not a marketing mix for no reason, but I agree that you need to understand the reason for using whatever element of the mix you choose…

    Remember though all generalisations are dangerous, including this one!

    Keep up the provocation


  2. Ben Young Says:

    @Phil Definitely as I stated on my herald post – if it is (like email marketing) anticipated, timely and relevant you could drive some real business through it.

    However (like email marketing) over time this (without constant work) loses its relevance and becomes spam. That’s the point at which it becomes worthless.

  3. Phil Osborne Says:

    Hey Ben thanks for the response.

    anticipated, timely and relevant are message characteristics not media attributes… in other words sending it via email as opposed to fax has no impact on them…

    i definitely concede that web based communication has much more going for it (is likely cheaper and more effective) and i would unlikely use or recommend a fax bomb but i couldn’t equivocally rule it out until i understood (listened to) my customer

    loving your work


  4. Ben Young Says:

    For sure – thanks for extending the conversation, your feedback is highly valued.

  5. Craig Dewe Says:

    The problem we still face in marketing is the unfortunate need to interrupt people be it via fax, mail, or any other media. We need that initial interruption to generate interest and move to a permission based model. Even Seth conceded in Permission Marketing that at the end of the day we still have to interrupt people to get their initial permission.

    Sure, we’re getting closer with the internet and adwords but adwords still interrupt my use of search engines because I was looking for content and now I’ve clicked a link and I’m reading a bigger ad. Such is the nature of selling stuff.

    It also assumes that consumers know the best solution to their problem and how to search for it. Some consumers don’t even realise they have a problem that needs solving until some commercial message points it out. E.g. a current carpet cleaning ad on tv… how am I supposed to know that my vacuum cleaner isn’t doing a proper job? My children (if I had any) could be getting sick and I’d never even know the cause.

    While I’m not advocating Fax Marketing (I’ve never used it) I don’t think it can be counted out as Phil said… it’s just the media. What can be examined is clients not understanding their market, how to target them, or how to craft an effective ad that creates response (and not listening to Ben in general).

    Then, once we’ve got that first little bit of interest it’s straight on to your marketing basics.

    Good, thought provoking post Ben!


  6. Ben Young Says:

    @Craig Thanks for furthering the conversation 🙂 It’s a question of permission (for attention) really….

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