12 DOH's of Christmas


‘DOH!’  It’s my favorite Homer Simpson-ism. It’s the perfect one-word epitaph for Homer’s epic fails. I just watched a ‘DOH!’ mash-up on YouTube.  12 Days of Christmas is playing in the background. Both have inspired me to share with you the 12 common mistakes businesses make with on-hold advertising. So, grab your peppermint mocha, turn on some Christmas tunes and count ‘em down with me.

12. We Don’t Need This Service.

‘We don’t put anyone on hold anymore.’ Whenever I hear that, I ask to speak to accounting.  Invariably, they say, ‘Please hold,’ and moments later I’m speaking with accounting. Every business puts callers on hold.  Every business needs a great on-hold advertising program.

11. Losing by Default

Whether it is clicks, tones, or bad 80’s music produced by a teenager, the default on-hold program for your phone system was never intended to be the program for your business.  It is merely a place holder – like the fake family portrait in the frame you just bought. Replace it with customized on-hold advertising today.

10. Pink Floyd Forever

Just because you believe, ‘The Wall’ is the quintessential music experience of a lifetime doesn’t mean your callers do.  Choose music that best reflects your target market, not your college years.

9.  Auto Attendant Incarceration

Voice mail jail. On hold hell.  What it gets called is determined by how well you design it and how well you interact with your customer after they’ve experienced it. Make it easy to navigate. Return calls quickly. Treat callers to a creative on-hold advertising program along the way.

8.  Predictably Timed Generic Greetings

Hearing a robotic, ‘Thank you for holding,’ every 10 seconds lets callers know you didn’t hang up on them.  But it does not take advantage of the most powerful and intimate advertising medium in your marketing arsenal. 

7.  The Shotgun Approach

On-hold advertising isn’t mass media.  You are not addressing an entire audience at once; you are talking to one caller at a time. Take advantage of this one on one time with your customer and talk to them (not at them).

6.  Starting with a Question

This is a basic advertising axiom. Never give a member of the audience an opportunity to say no and tune you out. Engage your caller with content and present solutions that benefit them.

5. The Laundry List

Listing all of your services in a single message may seem like it is highlighting all that you have to offer. In actuality it creates information overload for your callers, diluting the overall impact.  Focus. Stick to one subject per commercial message. It is the most effective approach.

4.  Let’s Talk About Me.

This is one of the classic blunders.* Focusing on you and your accomplishments when you should address the needs of your customers. ‘You’ and ‘your’ trumps ‘we’ and ‘our’ every time. (*See ‘Princess Bride’ for the others).

3. I Like That. Keep It.

On-hold advertising should not remain the same. Your business is constantly growing and evolving. Your on-hold advertising should reflect that forward momentum. Update your program regularly.

2. Doing It Yourself

You are a gifted surgeon who graduated at the top of your class.  Well done. However, leave the advertising to the professionals.  Or, let’s trade.  You write and produce my on-hold advertising program, and I will do your Lasik procedure.  How hard could it be?

1. Year-Round Holiday Spirit

The holiday season is filled with friends, family, and festivities. It’s a beautiful sentiment. Think about that when your caller tells you how much they enjoy your on-hold holiday program… In April. 

Enjoy this season and remember to update your on hold advertising program after the holidays.  That way you can enjoy a little ho-ho-ho in December and avoid going DOH! DOH! DOH!  in the New Year.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee