Everything You Need to Know About Being Selfish

Educational piece in today’s NY Times about telemarketing.

Here are my favorite bits:

Bank One has 2,500 people making 12,000,000 calls a year, all so they can sell 250,000 new accounts a year. Once the ‘do not call’ list hits, it may very well turn the economics of the entire project negative.

Keystone Auto Glass calls people every 90 days and asks, “Do you have a crack or a chip?” If the answer is no, they hang up and call em back in three more months. However, when the do not call thing kicks in, “Instead of calling every three months, we may call every month.” says Ron Selfe (his real name). This means that people not smart enough to get off the list get three times as many calls, but even better, it means that, as far as Ron is concerned, the population owes him this business, and if he has to bother us three times as much to make a living, well, hey.

I loved the story of Tina Nagel, who sells “identity theft protection”, which is an overpriced ($120/yr.) service that sends you your credit report every month. She says, “What I’m doing is a valuable service. I’m telling people what their options are in life.” Tina points out that she was once the victim of identity theft. She also points out that she hasn’t bought the service.

There are about 280 million people in this country, and telemarketers, according to the article, place 104 million calls a day.

Always concerned about our best interests, the industry has filed suit in Denver, claiming that the FTC laws restricting telemarketers “restrict free speech rights and fail to consider economic consequences.”

Most of my readers aren’t telemarketers, but most of us ARE marketers. And the lesson here is awfully simple: selfish doesn’t work any more.

You can’t demand attention. In fact, it’s sort of hard to even ask for it nicely. Attention comes to you when you offer something remarkable. I hope that Tina Nagel figures that out when she’s looking for her next gig.