Don’t Get Cute

Today I received a little box from a company who wants my attention. Inside the box was a small toy, and a link to a website, and nothing else. The sender wants my attention, and the offer is a serious offer, even though I didn’t watch more than a few seconds of the personal video on the site. I am the wrong audience, but the sender didn’t know that.

He could have called me and I would have told him who to contact.

Minutes later I received a LinkedIn InMail. The person sending that email was also trying to get my attention. She offered me a chance to play Truth or Dare, the dare being me giving her two times to speak with her about her services.

I appreciate the creativity, and I like the playfulness, but not enough to talk to her about her service, especially since I don’t need it.

Last week, a salesperson sent me a list of reasons that I might have not responded to their email. On choice suggested that I did not reply back because I had been eaten by alligators.

The idea is that by being cute, the salesperson will get attention. They hope by being clever, they can gain an appointment. Different is good, and it can work, but different in a way that makes a difference is better. What is missing is the insight that would make a business person sit up and take notice. What the approach lacks is some compelling reason for me to take a meeting, and busy people don’t like to give up their time without getting something in return. This pitch is for receptive people, who are easier targets for this kind of messaging.

The problem with being cute is that the attention you get may not be the impression you are trying to make. If you are trying to be consultative, and if you are aiming to be a person with deep insight, then starting by being cute may not serve those ends. That said, if your real personality is engaging and entertaining, then go with that (but I have seen the alligator thing 11 times, which means it isn’t even your material).

A couple of the people who have sent me emails like this work in lead generation and appointment setting. They mean well, and their intentions are good, and I am certain that there are some markets where this approach yields results, but for many companies who call on people with the charge of making change, this approach feels too clever by half.

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