Voicemail Intervention (Part 1)

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by Tom Watson on May 27, 2010

Many years ago I learned about differentiating myself as a teenager. I unexpectedly learned how it could benefit me. Now I think of how it can benefit my company (and yours). But first let me roll back the clock to an earlier time.

Keeping in touch with friends when I was younger was a little different than it is today. You had to call someones house to get a hold of them. If they were not home you had to leave a message. No such thing as a cell phone back then.

I remember anxiously running up to my bedroom to see if any messages were left for me each time I arrived home. I also remember just how utterly boring virtually every answering machine message was.

“Hi this is so and so. I’m not home so leave a message and I will return your call”

Sound familiar?

Every once in a while you may have an adventurous friend that would play some music in the background (usually for about 45 seconds too long). But that was the extent of it.

One friend in particular had a message that asked you leave your name, the date, time of day, reason for call and a list of times that you would be available to get a return call from him. This got me thinking, then it came to me.

I needed a “Voicemail Intervention”.

I had to change my message. I could not stand to be like everyone else. I needed to do something completely different. So by the end of the day I had created a new message that was basically a satire of my buddy’s message. In a very convincing voice it went like this.

“Hi this is Tom. I’m busy right now. In order for me to return your call I will need some information. Please leave your full name including any middle initials and your mothers maiden name. Also include your phone number with area code, state the time of day, current moon phase, social security number, full address, list of friends we have in common, credits needed for completion of major, favorite songs, person you would most like to meet and last but not least the reason for your call. I will catalog the information and get back to you as soon as possible.”

Within my immediate circle of friends we all got a laugh out if it. But I decided to take it a few steps further and create a new answering machine message that would really be completely different.

I gathered three other friends with some musical ability and we sat down and created a rap song (yes at one time I was a devoted disciple of the Beastie Boys). We each sung a verse and combined efforts on the chorus. Though I do not remember it verbatim anymore (and I won’t embarrass myself anymore either by posting the lyrics) it was a lot of fun. And I must admit it sounded really cool.

This is where I learned my first lesson on differentiating myself.

What was the result of this? After recording the message and making it public my phone started to ring. Then it kept ringing. Not just from my close friends but from my friends friends. And the friends of those friends called. People from neighborhoods I never heard of started to call. Just to hear my message. Literary hundred of calls to listen to a silly rap song that encouraged you to leave a message.

Does this mean you should record a rap song?

Click here for the answer.

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