I love referrals as a way to get in the door. They are the heart of the agency business. So when we get one, we’re all over it.

Recently, a good publisher friend (let’s call him Ronny) made one via e-mail. He sent it to the PROSPECT and me, and used the e-mail to introduce all of us. It read:

“PROSPECT: We talked about the market research gentleman here in the Chicago area. Jim can help deliver accountability to advertising.  His evaluation of b2b advertising is really thorough with nearly or over 1 million ads studied in his database. Jim Nowakowski is the gent. I copied Jim so you have his eMail. Jim: PROSPECT is with this COMPANY.”

I responded as soon as I became aware of the e-mail this way in a REPLY ALL:

“Ronny, thanks for the recommendation. PROSPECT, let me know when is a good time to have a chat. Look forward to it.”

The e-mail bounced from PROSPECT’s address, but got through to Ronny’s.

You know this instantly these days. I e-mailed Ronny with the bounce information I got back when it bounced (you get that these days also): “Ronny, his e-mail bounced. Is it correct?”

Ronny responded: “My email appears to have gone thru.”

I tried again, failed, and contacted my IT people, forwarding the bounce: “Can you figure why the e-mail bounces to this guy? Ronny says his goes through. Thanks.”

My IT guy responded: “Are you sure that is a good email address? There is @DOMAIN, but there isn’t @Domain. Can you try emailing @DOMAIN instead and see if it will work.”

I did. No luck. And it didn’t have anything to do with capital letters.

Ronny stepped in. I was hot on the trail of the PROSPECT and pulled him into the results. Ronny wrote to PROSPECT:

“PROSPECT, Jim’s eMail has had trouble reaching you so I am forwarding his message to you.  See below.  Hopefully, Jim’s message made it but you never know.  Hope you had a good weekend.”

I sent an e-mail to Ronny: “Thank you Ronny.”

Mystery Solved

A few days went by and I forgot about the hot pursuit. Suddenly, an e-mail showed up from Ronny again to the PROSPECT with me cc’d. It said:

“PROSPECT: Your eMail was entered incorrectly in our database. I sent the eMail below and for some reason, I did not get an undeliverable message. You never received it. My error.”

PROSPECT replied: “Not a problem Ronny, our email address changed about 5 or so years ago. Thanks.”

A light went off in my head: five years, my friend had been communicating with vapor. I replied to all.

“Ah, thanks Ronny, Glad the mystery was solved. PROSPECT, I’m looking forward to a discussion. When is a good time to connect?”

He replied and we set up a phone call. The PROSPECT wrote: “I mentioned this to Ronny when he recommended you, but we are really strapped for cash when it comes to our marketing budget in 2017 across the entire company.  I can go into a little more detail when we talk.”

Elmer Letterman taught me, “The sale begins when the customer says no.” I subsequently had a good conversation with the PROSPECT, but like he said, the budget wasn’t there. I couldn’t get him to pull a trigger.

However, what I learned from this experience was perhaps worth more to me than a project from THE PROSPECT. For example, here are some questions for all of us:

  • Where have the e-mails for the past five years from Ronny to the PROSPECT been going?
  • If he didn’t know they were bouncing, who was receiving them?
  • Who is receiving YOUR e-mails if you don’t know they are bouncing?
  • How many e-mails have been sent like this from Ronny to the PROSPECT?
  • How many are we sending to non-deliverables?
  • How accurate are bounce rates to begin with?
  • What is a bounce to begin with?

Before you answer any of them, remembe e-mail is just one of the ways to communicate. Try picking up the phone. We do, and we are rewarded by remarkable information.

Let us know what you think about e-mail. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with it. Thanks for reading this!

For more insights follow interlinejim@twitter

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