Superior audio services since 1986

What your Marketing on Hold says about YOU

Contrary to popular belief, the entire planet is NOT glued to the internet 24/7.  Granted it seems that way as internet based applications become more intertwined with everyday electronic devices in the hands of more and more consumers.  Certainly, marketing is increasingly geared to a virtual marketplace.  But have virtual shopping carts replaced everything?  Not a chance.

While many traditional brick-and-mortar establishments have come to rely on e-commerce, there’s no replacing one or both of the following: foot traffic walking through the door, and the always present, always reliable telephone.  Those who market their business, products, and services smartly will not neglect these vital components just to put all their eggs in the proverbial online cart.  Rather, the more clever strategy is to coordinate and complement the positive aspects of each avenue of business.  And where’s the phone traffic, there’s a potential customer who will land on hold…one who’s already interested in you enough to have dialed your number.  What are they hearing right now?

One important part of marketing is obvious: drive potential customers to your door, phone, or website.  When it comes to the phone, callers have taken that big step.  It’s the same as if they’re grabbing a cart at your door or website.  TREAT THE SITUATION ACCORDINGLY.  Here are some points to remember as you formulate your Messages-on-Hold game plan.

First, plan ahead.  If you’ve typically only updated your MOH once a year but tend to run seasonal promotions at your store, you’re missing great promotional opportunities with every caller!  Consider updating on a quarterly basis and think one season ahead.  In other words, if your landscaping organization is approaching the Winter Quarter, gear your messages to promote special packages for Spring.  Over those winter months, callers will have had plenty of opportunity to absorb your on hold material and plan to spend money with you.  Think about the amount of advertising TV networks use to promote new programs.  They start well in advance to pound the message home…imprinting dates and times into your skull relentlessly.  But it works!  Same with political ads, but we won’t go there now. 

Back to the point.  If your business creates specialty items just for the holiday season in a B-to-B environment, waiting until December to start promoting items like custom golf balls, pens, and personalized hats could be too late.  This type of industry makes a perfect example if marketing on hold is dealt with on a quarterly basis.  Some might think it’s overkill to promote these types of items in October, but done well with the right copy and music, marketing to on hold callers with advanced forethought should increase revenue.

“Done well”…that’s another key.  Remember, the nature of this medium relies on audio and making that audio memorable.   Don’t count on print copy to get it done.  Print promotions from a yellow page ad, brochure, or home page might look great, but all too often the format doesn’t translate to conversational audio.  One great trick to use: read your on hold messages aloud to yourself.  Don’t be self-conscious, and don’t read them under your breath at a million miles an hour.   Read them as if a caller is on the listening end.  If something DOESN’T sound right to you, it’s almost surely not going to sound right to the caller.  And don’t overdo it or ramble on with endless lists of products or services.  Because this IS audio, callers are only going to retain so much. Best to make it short and colorful.  This is the time to rely on your MOH provider and their professional copywriters.  Also consider that callers are going into the MOH loop at a random point and will have their call picked up at a similarly random point.  So the goal is to make sure they’re left with an impression during the time they are on hold…some key points that might translate to a question for their representative, and in turn, a sale.

This leads to another point.  How much time are callers actually spending on hold?  Such statistics are commonplace for IT personnel, but marketers may not always be aware of just how much or how little their callers are hearing.  Creating 30 second “spots” and having them separated with long music intervals when callers are only on hold for an average of 12 seconds…that’s not likely to get the desired results.  If hold time is around one minute, this formula might be perfect.  Shorter messages with more punch…that’s smart marketing in action.

In general, keeping messages concise works best for callers anyway.  Remember, they are on hold and probably prefer not to be.  Listing 4 or more functions at a time in just one message can be counterproductive, and annoying callers is not an effective way to encourage a sale.  The best voice talents only sound as good as the copy they’re presented.  Working with Illinois Audio Productions’ team is a great start because all these points are already in mind.  And they’ll coordinate with you to see which variables apply the best.  Marketing is crucial in today’s competitive business arena.  TV, radio, print, the internet…sure, they all count.  But don’t neglect marketing on hold.  Think of your phone lines as checkout lines to the cash register.  Your customers are right there with spending money in hand!  All they need is a little guidance.

Music On Hold and the value of your tunes.

Ever gotten into a debate with friends or family about the next music selection? Maybe on a road trip or a party in college back in the day? Go ahead and put 8 or 10 work associates in a room and see how long it takes to agree on one radio station. The point is, music preferences are as individual as preferences for food, art, and dating prospects: beauty is in the eye – and ear – of the beholder.
When considering music for callers on-hold, the same challenge can occur. You’ll never find something that EVERYONE loves. And more often than not, callers will only let you know when they hear something they simply don’t like. Otherwise, no news is generally good news. But why just settle when you’re in the process of developing a new messages-on-hold production? The options have expanded greatly over the years, putting the term “elevator music” to rest in peace.
For those wanting callers to focus on the copy in their messages-on-hold, music selections can take a back seat. What’s important to remember is that the tunes are more than just background music. Sure, it enhances the overall audio quality. And with properly timed intervals between messages, careful consideration should be applied because that’s where callers are going to be soothed as time passes faster…or start foaming at the mouth and cursing your name.
The number one guideline to remember involves thoroughly knowing your demographic. As mentioned earlier, there’s no way to hit a home run with every caller, every time. So what music style will appeal to most? A fine jewelry store or high-end auto dealership may opt for Classical music. Country music works well in machinery sales and some food and beverage operations. But many people have a love/hate relationship with more specialized music genres like Classical and Country. Those on the hate side might very well let you know. Those who have no issues are more likely not to express an opinion. And just because a business’ MOH decision maker loves AC/DC or Hank Williams Jr., it’s extremely important to take a step back and realize that those on-hold may not.
Smooth Jazz and Easy Listening selections often strike a more popular chord because they represent broader appeal to a wider range of listeners. And we’re not picking on Classical and Country…we like both and they definitely have their place on-hold. But it has to be a consideration and we’re using them as examples. The main point: don’t let personal preferences skew your judgment when picking music for callers.
Using music to compliment your MOH copy can pay dividends. Travel agency promoting a Caribbean cruise? Calypso music helps the captive caller envision the journey, planting that seed for a profitable sale. It’s just one way to maximize your Music-on-Hold value and investment. Our licensed music library provides an endless number of options….all ways to inspire that call to action.
Music also plays a vital role in those key seconds between messages…the bridge from one key point to another. If you can measure your average hold time, you can gauge how much verbiage callers hear. Obviously, longer hold times mean callers are asked to absorb more information. Don’t overdo it. Customers will only retain so much, so think about the music “intervals” between the messages. Again, what you choose will resonate greatly with your callers during their time spent on-hold.
We mentioned our LICENSED music library. Here’s a really vital point to note. The music you play on hold has to be licensed. No problem when contracted through us. But beware of using copyrighted music; i.e., anything on the radio, or a CD you bought, or downloaded MP3. This is considered a rebroadcast by copyright governing organizations like ASCAP and BMI. They’re not strangers to the use of such music on hold, and the fines they levy can be significant!
One last thing. If you’re considering playing music-on-hold ONLY, even temporarily, IAP can help guide you in the right direction. Your callers will thank you!