What’s In A Name?

People love hearing their own name. It’s one of the earliest nouns we’re conscious of and hearing it actually activates certain parts of our brain. How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936, almost 80 years ago, and even then Dale Carnegie could identify how much of an impact using someone’s name could have.

At Messages On Hold we like using names. It relaxes people. From a customer service point of view, it’s a simple and effective way of building rapport with our clients.

Of course, saying a person’s name when we’re directly communicating with them is the ideal use of a name, but we wanted to find a better way of taking advantage of the name game.

Enter Shane Warne.Shane

We sponsored Shane for a few years and loved having him on board as a member of the Messages On Hold team.

Our Managing Director Kym Illman knew having Shane associated with Messages On Hold was a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the quirky nature of our brand but he also identified a way to make our clients names sound even sweeter – by having Shane say them!

When we welcome a new client or employee to the Messages On Hold family, they get a phone call from Shane. It’s a friendly call, just to let them know they’re appreciated and we’re excited to work with them!

Unfortunately, due to Shane’s busy schedule we couldn’t have him dropping everything to make a quick phone call whenever we needed him, so Kym came up with a clever plan.

To boost our odds, we collated a list of the 500 most common first names in our database and the 300 most common surnames. Then we asked Shane to record the message we’d like to send all our clients, plus the list of names we’d come up with.  Now when we welcome a new client or employee, there’s a good chance we can send them a personalised, friendly message from Shane Warne including their two favourite words!

Not only is this a fantastic way of making our much-appreciated clients and staff members feel welcome, it’s also a great marketing tool. I know when I got my phone call when I started at Messages On Hold, I told everyone that my new employer had called me and managed to get Shane Warne to say hello to me, personally! The idea is that the more you blow your clients away with interesting touches like that, the more likely they are to share the experience with their associates. Using names in a unique manner is one way we can keep building great relationships and ensure our brand continues to be aligned with quirky, fun and personal marketing messages.

– Sophie

Smile – You’ve Just Been Ambushed!

For years I’ve been a devotee of getting the Messages On Hold logo exposed throughout the media without paying for it. We’ve ambushed AFL games, Ashes Cricket test matches, Wimbledon, live news broadcasts, even the Olympics. The result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of free media exposure.
But isn’t there a risk of upsetting people with this cheeky (never illegal) form of marketing? Sure. After all, this sort of marketing can polarise people. Some love it, some hate it, most notice it and then get on with life – it’s no big deal.
I’m never going to do business with everyone. So why should I worry about alienating a small segment of the market. So many business people spend their lives treading the safe line, making sure they don’t do or say anything that might cause offence or gain unwanted attention.
Messages On Hold has always been “out there” and those who do business with us tend to love that sort of brash attitude. I remember when we ambushed Tim Gossage in the betting ring a minute prior to the start of the Melbourne Cup.
Glenn Wilson held up a Messages On Hold sign over Tim’s shoulder, not an easy task (he’s about 6’5″ tall). The phones went berserk. We must have received 40 calls from outraged viewers. I think we even lost a client over it. However, half the country saw that logo and focused on my business for 15 seconds.
“Would you give up a $2,000/year client in return for $50,000 worth of national exposure?” Is it ethical? That’s for you to decide. I can’t make the media expose my business, but if the opportunity presents itself and I don’t take advantage of it, more fool me.

A Peek Behind The Scenes

We recognised Shane Warne’s star qualities in early 2006 when we pursued him to be an ambassador for Messages On Hold. After some nine months of negotiations with his brother and manager at the time, Jason Warne, we agreed to a sponsorship package that worked for both of us.

We launched our association at a press conference in Melbourne on October 2006. With every Australian media outlet (and a number of overseas TV crews) assembled, the reporters were eating up the story. Some were distracted by the “ironic” link between Messages On Hold’s recorded promotional messages and Shane’s text messaging. The fact was, we don’t do text messaging, but various media chose to ignore that fact as it would have ruined their “angle”.

Shane “padded away” the stupid and insolent questions and chose, like a true professional, to steer the focus back to the business association. He was a focus machine – I guess that’s what separates the good players from the great ones.

During that same conference, Shane mentioned confidentially to a well-known Channel 9 journalist, that he was separating from Simone. After the press conference, that journalist (who was also a friend of Shane’s) ambushed him, shoving a microphone in his face asking questions about the split. PR whiz, Max Markson, had to jump in and shepherd Shane from the zealous reporter.

Unfortunately that didn’t stop Channel 9 Melbourne from leading off their bulletin with a story about “Shane’s Split”. Interestingly enough, they were the only ones to run with that story. Fortunately for us (and of course, Shane), the launch was a huge success.

The Spin King and I

As the owner of a marketing company I attend a range of conferences, seminars, social and client functions every year. If you were to pick any one of those events, I can guarantee that after the formalities, one of the first question asked of me is “What made you pick Shane Warne as your company’s ambassador?”

Shane Warne is arguably the most recognised sports personality in Australia, but he’s also been one of the most controversial. So why would any company choose to sponsor a sporting personality/renegade/rule-breaker to raise brand awareness? It’s simple really, when Warnie talks, people listen.

It was 2005 when I began searching for a prominent sporting personality to sponsor and by the end of my search I had narrowed it down to two: Ben Cousins and Shane Warne. Shane was embroiled in controversy at the time and a number of marketing people told me to go with the safe choice – Ben Cousins. I approached Ben and asked him what he’d want to be the face and voice of Messages On Hold, but never heard back from him. A few weeks later I attended a Test Match dinner at Perth’s Hyatt Hotel where I collared Shane on the way to the men’s toilets and gave him a note offering him some cash to do some voice recordings.

I knew we’d put some people off-side by sponsoring Shane, but I figured I’m never going to do business with every organisation or person in the country, so what’s the point in trying to please everyone? This is where, I believe, most businesses fall short – they’re simply too frightened to try things that might alienate people.

We secured $1.8m of media exposure the day we launched with Warnie. It was like winning the “marketing lottery”. Since then we’ve used Shane in numerous unorthodox and creative ways – e.g. “Warnie’s Words of Wisdom“. Messages On Hold clients and prospects sometimes receive a personalised voicemail message from the great man. They hear Shane greet them by name and play the entire message to their friends and associates, at the same time promoting our brand – bless them for that!