Timezones matter

Picture this … it’s just after 1am right now … the dead of the night here on the weekend … all’s quiet in the neighborhood, everyone is tucked in their warm cozy beds … lights are out … even the cat is curled up dreaming of what he might get to chase and stalk tomorrow.

Ring ring riiiiiiiiing! Off goes the phone at full pitch: a rather startling sound to snap you out of your sleep in the middle of the night. The first thought, of course, is that it’s a family emergency call … who else would call at 1:01am? Maybe someone has had an accident or needs help?

Grabbing the phone, I notice the caller ID says “Unavailable” … which means a call from overseas. Picking it up, I hear a pre-recorded voice broadcast …

“Hi, this is Bill Glazer and I just wanted to …”


A voice broadcast … at 1am on a Sunday morning! Are you kidding?

My ONLY response to this kind of call is to slam down the phone and not feel the least bit impressed about the caller or their campaign.

My only guess is that at 1:01am in the middle of the night in Melbourne Australia is the equivalent of some decent hour of the day in the USA for this kind of telemarketing.

But if you have a global mailing/calling list, you could do much better taking into account that a suitable time of day to call is different according to what timezone your customers live in!

(You wouldn’t even have to ask for the info: the country code and area code in the phone number gives you an indication, especially for land line numbers).

This timezone concept also applies to the “launches” now undertaken for many online products that go on sale at a set time.

For example, “12 noon this Friday” for sometime in the eastern United States is a whole lot different for us Aussies. Yet very few campaigns factor in to their communication a way to help their list figure out what the time will be where they live.

It’d be easy enough to include more than one timezone in the pre-launch messages (maybe covering 5 or 6 high profile locations around the world) … or at least setup a link to an online time service so visitors can easily work out what “12 noon on Friday” will mean to them locally.

And if you’re going to use voice broadcasts in your campaign, know enough about your global mailing list to help prevent unwelcome phone calls in the dead of the night!

Persuasion is still persuasion

I noticed a new report online tonight to download about 19 “new” rules of “social media” copywriting.

With “web 2.0” all the buzz, this list promised a lot about being engaging and memorable … and persuasive … using social media.

To get the report, I had to sign up to a mailing list first. That was not part of the original “promise” — I was expecting to download a report, not have to add myself a mailing list to do so. Anyway, I downloaded the report and unsubscribed from the list. That’s a thought stream for another day.

I’ve got to say the report wasn’t what I was expecting.

Of the 19 “new” rules — only five of them were “new” and were directly related to social media (“Make your message viral”, “Start the conversation”, “Create discussion topics”, “Generate buzz” and “Include your keywords”). Even some of those are just online adaptions of ways to generate publicity — the method suits the vehicle, but the objective really hasn’t changed.

The other 14 “new” rules are not new at all — they’ve been around long before they were applied in a social media environment.

Sure, social media has changed how you connect, engage and persuade your market — but the way the message is crafted is still based on long-proven copywriting principles.

Some aspects of the process have changed, but the underlying techniques of copy are still as relevant in the social media sphere as elsewhere.

Persuasion is still persuasion.

Heads Up to Sellers on eBay

I was in the eBay discussion forums today and, in a thread highlighting the frustrations of one particular seller, they had posted their email exchange with eBay.

In part, eBay’s answer about feedback included this:

Please understand that we will not remove feedback because it seems unfair, or the member lied.

eBay does not censor feedback or investigate it for accuracy…

So an eBay member can lie in their feedback, and the feedback won’t be removed.

Seems to me that eBay is making their marketplace way too orientated towards attracting buyers of any kind. They don’t just want nice, paying buyers… by removing the chance for sellers to now leave negative Buyer feedback, and even with neutral feedback affecting the percentage calculation shown for the buyer on an auction page — it’s getting much tougher for Sellers with near encouragement of “dodgy” buyers.

Here’s just one example of how an inexperienced eBay Buyer can affect a Seller’s rating:

I have seen some really mystifying feedback such as the example I saw yesterday. This buyer left two neutrals for a seller and said very happy with items purchased in each case.

What it really means for Sellers is this: your communication must go to lengths to both be complete and accurate — both to potential Buyers in your listing and to the actual winning bidder after the sale is made.

You have to do everything possible to ensure there are no “Buyer surprises” in the transaction process… from the description of the quality of the item through to packaging and postage. If you’re getting regular questions, address them in your listings or About Me page (and link to them). Make everything as clear as possible.

This is how your marketplace works and you cannot afford to ignore the buyer-orientated environment. This won’t stop unscrupulous Buyers. But it will do two things: it may stop a Buyer with good intentions from misunderstanding the process, and if your listings clearly address relevant issues (and use other ways to help build trust and likeability), then potential Buyers will have a better feeling about you too.

Over time you’ll find ways to use your listings to highlight the positive “trust” issues that mechanisms like the feedback system no longer deal with.

It’s an undoubtedly frustrating situation — especially when bad buyers go without negative feedback — but there are still ways to minimise the impact it has on your eBay business.