How NOT to Market (to Me or Anyone)

This message came to me via my Ask Danielle page (the mentoring page where people are free to submit their business questions to get my insights, advice and guidance):

Question: Hello there – I hope this email finds you well. I am running a Virtual Assistance / Web Design & Development firm. I was just browsing and reached to your website. You did awesome work on it. My question is regarding partnership, can you think we can engage in some manner where we get mutual benefit? My biggest advantage is that I am sitting in the economy where assistants cost me a few hundred bucks and if you can refer some clients to my company you can save a lot. Willing or not, kindly give me a response so I can move on. Thanks, – Ali

  1. My first issue is that if you had actually looked at the ACA website, you would see that I don’t deal with virtual assistants and that term is anathema to me. I deal with Administrative Consultants, who are grown up business owners and experts in their own right, not assistants. If you can’t even pay attention enough to get the terms right, why would I ever do business with you?
  2. Second, using my mentoring question submission form to market to me shows a lack of business sense and manners and is completely annoying. There is a Contact page at the top of every page of the ACA website. If you don’t have the ability to find that and follow its instructions, why would I think you’d have the competence to handle anything more complicated?
  3. Here again, if you had been paying attention, you would have noticed that my site is a MENTORING website, not a website for procuring clients and work for people and the request is inappropriate.
  4. If you had actually familiarized yourself with the work I do on behalf of those in my industry, you would know how abjectly abhorrant your request is. I don’t believe in farming out client work to third parties, and I certainly don’t believe in devaluing the important work we do. I believe in people running their own businesses taking care of their own clients and making damn good money doing it. I don’t believe in exploiting and paying others poorly so that I can make more money at their expense.
  5. It’s clear that English is not your first language and even if none of these other issues were present, I couldn’t—wouldn’t—do business with you. The communication problems cause too many practical, time-wasting problems and delays that would get in the way of my smooth, efficient operations. I’ve worked with vendors from non-native English speaking countries and it is an exercise in torture and extreme aggravation. I might visit your country and love your culture, but I can’t work with you.

This is the difficulty I have with parties running these support farm type businesses in third world countries.

Lord knows I love me some Indians. Beautiful, colorful place, wonderful people, and I can’t get enough of the joie de vivre of Bollywood movies where even with serious dramatic films they somehow find a way to fit in a dance sequence, lol.

But they have such a devaluing culture in that country, and they just don’t grok providing services in the business manner of an independent professional. They treat the work and business like an assembly line. They don’t understand how expertise works.

Plus, what they call “virtual assistance” really isn’t so they don’t even have that right. (Not that we use that term here; we don’t. Because people running their own businesses providing an expertise are not “remote workers” and they certainly aren’t assistants.)

What they do is more concierge/secretarial service, which are transactional, not ongoing, relationship-based administrative support.

I would never in a million years, I don’t care how cheap it was, outsource my clients’ private, confidential and important work to a third party. To me, that is just crazy and beyond comprehension.

But I get that people do it because they’re just in it to make a buck any way they can (AND because they don’t know how to create a well-earning business working with only a handful of clients).

So, yeah, there are people in the world who are running these assembly line farms. What they do is get the clients while they outsource the work to cheap workers in the Philappines, India and elsewhere.

Do they have a market? Sure. There’s a market for everything.

Do their clients get the kind of deeply personal and insightful one-on-one relationship we provide? No, simply by virtue of how they operate.

Do those clients get high quality work? Not likely, especially given the the examples I’ve seen.

Are there some clients who are okay with that? Of course. But they aren’t my clients and that’s not the kind of business I show others how to create. I do high quality work which inherently requires an ongoing relationship and I only work with clients who value that ideology and quality level.

And when you outsource like that, you might get assurances of confidentiality, but really, you have no control over where, to whom and how many people you and your clients’ information is getting passed around to. I’m not okay with that and neither are my clients.

Here are some of the take-aways from all of this for you:

  1. Don’t cold-call (this gentleman’s contact was a form of cold-calling as I don’t know him from Adam, have never heard of him, and never asked him to contact me, nor would I want him to if I’d been asked).
  2. If you’re going to contact someone, get their name, titles and terms right. Visit and actually READ their website so you can give the respect of actually familiarizing yourself with them, what they do and what their ethos is.
  3. Use proper business channels and sensibilities.
  4. Don’t market to people who aren’t your ideal prospects.
4 Comments Posted in Marketing, Rants. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses

  1. suz says:

    Wow. I think you said it all.

  2. First, I want to say I love the word anathema! I can almost hear your frustration throughout the whole post. Thank you for more information on how to handle such requests. I’ve been bombarded with junk requests since my website went live. Thank goodness for spam filters.

  3. Karen Booth says:

    Frustrating how everyone just wants to make a buck without offering quailty! Nothing wrong with being successful..just be ethical about it dude!!

  4. Dashya says:

    Thanks for telling the truth about these “spam shams” who junk up our inbox’s with this drivel – and also providing me with a better way to handle such requests.

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