Saturday, December 06, 2008

Robo-calling rich folks with investment advice?

"Hi, I'm Jim Coleman, and my records indicate you're a qualified investor. If you are a qualified investor, please press 1 ..."

That's the robocall I received on a Thursday morning at 8:30 am. I was getting ready to leave for work and I hung up at "press 1." But then, as I frequently do, I starting thinking about the marketing tactics being employed here.

According to this site, qualified investors are "individuals, trust accounts or institutional funds with at least $5 million in assets to invest." Therein lies my whole problem with this campaign.

I thought to myself that if I'm worth $5 million, do you suppose I got where I did by answering unsolicited robocalls for investment advice? Presumably, I'm either knowledgeable enough to invest on my own, or smart enough to have a real adviser, one that I found through referral or some other more reliable means, not via robocall.

Also, why would they call at 8:30 am when the qualified investor has either left for work or about to do so? Do qualified investors not work? Maybe they're targeting super-qualified investors who don't go to work anymore. But then, that takes me back to my first point: super-qualified investors are even less likely to respond to robocalls from Jim.

That's when it dawned on me. By asking if the call recipient is qualified, then maybe they're trying to target non-qualified suckers who want to become qualified.

It's kind of like Club 33. About 10 years ago, my company had one of the few corporate memberships to Club 33 at Disneyland, and I took my family there several times. The entrance to the club was an understated door with a 33 on it on one of the main thoroughfares through the New Orleans section. To get in, you rang the bell and the host would ask you to identify yourself, then buzz you in.

The sight of my family ringing that doorbell, being identified, then buzzed in, captivated all those around us. A glance back as we walked in showed faces with a range of emotions from curiousity to envy. People wanted to be part of the club because it was exclusive. They had no idea what was in there, they just knew that they weren't in there.

Non-qualified investors want to be qualified, even if they don't know what qualified is. So they "press 1." That's the only thing I can conclude about that campaign. Maybe next time, I'll take the time to press 1 to learn more.
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