On-Hold Advertising Secrets

Lean in close and I’ll tell you a secret. People are talking about your on-hold program.  They are.  Now, I can’t tell you who it was or what they said.  But they are talking.  As a business owner, I’m sure you understand the power of ‘word of mouth’ advertising shared by your customers. It can be a tremendous benefit to your business. Or not, depending on what they share.


There is a secret to creating an on-hold environment conducive for people to share positive feedback about your business.  Actually, there are five secrets that will help you develop successful on-hold advertising campaigns.  By reading them you solemnly swear to adhere to the tenets revealed herein.

1. Take control of the space. The on-hold environment of your phone system is the one advertising medium that you control completely – if you choose to do so.  Unfortunately, many miss this opportunity and settle for playing the default music programmed into the system to their callers.  Every business telephone system can handle a customized on-hold program. So, in order to take advantage of this powerful medium, you must first make the decision to ‘own’ the time and the content of what your callers will experience when placed on hold. That is your advertising space that you don’t have to share with anyone. Take control of it.

2. Client needs over company needs. Most businesses truly believe the customer comes first.  However, when it comes to the content of their on-hold advertising you would think the opposite is true.  ‘We’ve been in business for…’ ‘Our state of the art facilities…’ ‘My hand-selected, award-winning staff…’ are all frames of reference that convey a ‘company first’ mentality.  Spend more time focusing your advertising message on the needs of your customers rather than the pedigree of your business.

3. Update content frequently. On-hold advertising is not a set it and forget it proposition. In life and in business things change. Constantly. There is not one business or industry that is exactly the same as it was three months ago, let alone a year ago.  Technology, procedures, staff, service options, seasons – you name it, there is a change associated with it. Those changes should be highlighted and promoted with every customer placed on hold.  Frequent updates to your on-hold advertising will keep the program fresh and communicate the forward momentum of your business.

4. Vary your approach. An announcer talking about all you have to offer can work. As long as that’s not the only thing the caller hears while placed on hold.  Testimonials, dialogue, sound effects, male voice, female voice, animal voice; these are different approaches that can be used to your advantage to capture the attention of your customers waiting for you to return to their call.  One voice repeating a message at predictable intervals is not the most effective use of this powerful medium.  Engage your callers with a varied approach to the messages of your on-hold advertising campaign.

5. Sample the product regularly. Become your own secret shopper.  Call your business and get placed on hold once a month.  That’s the only way to truly know what the customer experience is really like for your callers. This is the most vital quality assurance test you can make.  You set standards for the goods and services you provide. You have safe-guards and regularly scheduled spot-checks in place to guarantee those standards are met.  Apply the same strategy with your on-hold advertising.

You have hereby been entrusted with these hallowed secrets.  It is vital that you share these five secrets with every person who calls your business.  Your task is not to tell them the secrets, but to reveal them covertly by taking control of the on-hold environment of your phone system. Then, focus on the needs of your customers with your on-hold advertising.  Update the content regularly, and vary the approach with each message. To confirm the completion of your ‘transfer of secrets,’ take the time to sample your on-hold product. Call your business. That way you’ll know your image is reinforced with every call.

These secrets are worth sharing.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee