I was contacted yesterday by Construction Forum Magazine who told me they were putting together a feature at the request of one of our clients, and would we like to support it?
With a bit of foresight I asked for an email with full details. The caller agreed to call me back at the end of the week for my response.
The email I received made me a little suspicious:
The feature was described as an “Annual Profile” for the client and stressed that we would be illustrating our “working partnership”, that the client had “put forward a number of companies and consultants who they have worked with over the last year and are looking to work with over 2009.”
The email also explained that distribution would be throughout “England, Northern and Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales”.
Firstly, this client works regionally, so putting a profile like this in a national magazine is a little unlikely. Secondly, they are also a housing association and none of the targets the email described would be remotely of interest to them. This made me look at the information a bit more closely.
The hooks in the email are great –
- Mentioning a specific client contact by name, together with a project we are proud of doing for that client
- Inviting us to publicly confirm our role in the client’s future strategy
- Casually suggesting that ‘I can let you know the most popular sizes for this addition is a half or full page’
- No need to pay now – payment not due until publication “once you have the chance to see the profile”
- Following up with ‘I will call you towards the end of the week to confirm your input’
As you can see I was already suspicious, so I posted on twitter asking for feedback from my followers. Here is what they said:
SuButcher: Construction Forum Magazine – anyone know about it? We’ve been asked to advertise. Experiences appreciated 🙂
EEPaul: @SuButcher Construction Forum = Advertorial type publication – best avoided, IMHO.
SuButcher: @EEPaul Thanks Paul, that was my hunch. I think they have conned one of our clients into giving them our details.
pf137955: @SuButcher we tend to avoid these, they want you to buy advertising, our BDT’s always tell us to ignore
SuButcher: @pf137955 Even worse it turns out the client has a policy against advertorial magazines… I wonder how they got the contact name!
martinbrown: @SuButcher CF Mag website doesn’t inspire, env policy blank http://is.gd/nQcI , only samples available online BUT cfm = center for fm 🙂
SuButcher: @martinbrown even better CF Magazine’s readership stats are percentages only – no figures!
Between us we satisfied ourselves that this was a non-marketing opportunity, dressed up as a really tasty offer.
If you get approached by a magazine offering you your client on a plate, here are a few tips:
- Check out the magazine’s full details via Google, including what people say about them. If no-one is writing about them then no-one is reading them. So why advertise?
- Interrogate everything they send you, including their website. Who are they targeting? Might it just be your advertising budget?
- Check the readership statistics of the publication – to whom and where they are circulated. Do they have subscribers? Is their content available online so others can find it – and you can include it in your own marketing activities?
- Ask your client about them. Tell them you have had a call, and show what they have sent you. If they really want you to do it you can politely explain why it isn’t worth the bother, and if they have been persuaded to hand over your details they will thank you for saving them further embarrassment and their consultants many thousands of pounds.
Everyone is thinking about marketing right now. Make sure you have a strategy and don’t bite at the first hook.