When I began my career in marketing, one of my first responsibilities was calling study participants. Luckily for me, these were rarely cold-calls: We prepared a list of vetted study participants ahead of time with the help of the client.

Cold-calling is when you call a lead out of the blue and either ask them for questions or try to make a sales pitch. It's rarely effective as the callee likely has no idea who you are, why you're calling, and often is too busy for a call at the time you make it anyway.

I frequently get cold-called from an affiliate of my old web host trying to upsell me to some proprietary CMS platform. Those calls never end well.


Still, all of the above interactions had something important in common: context.

We called research participants because they were employees, current customers, or shareholders in our clients' business - we wanted feedback on brand recognition and trust. My old web host knows I still keep a few things around on their server, so they contract with an affiliate in attempts to upsell me and expand the services I pay for.

Nothing is worse, though, than a cold-call that lacks any form of context whatsoever.

Hello, after reviewing your plug-in, we see a strong opportunity to increase both the revenue your plug-in subscribers are earning via display ads, as well as the revenue share you are earning from your plug-in. We provide publishers with access to Google ADX among other premium advertising partners, and have recently released our plug-in [link redacted]. We are now working with other plug-in developers such as yourself to integrate our advertising solutions using our API ([link redacted]).

The model we are offering our plug-in partners is quite attractive, and if you are interested I'd be happy to provide more details as well as login to see an example integration we are about to go live with.

Lastly, should you wish to play around with our plug-in, sign up at [link redacted] and let me know what username you use so I may have your account approved immediately.

If you are unfamiliar with the differences between Google ADX and Google Adsense, please see here: [link redacted]

This contact came through an email. From a stranger. With no reference to the plugin in question or even how they came to contact me in the first place. There is zero context in this message; it's a complete and total failure from a marketing perspective.

No, Leon, I will not be contacting you about your service.

If you use cold-calling as a technique to gain new customers, be sure to provide context when you reach out. Don't blindly shotgun the market with ambiguous sales copy; explain both who you are and why you're contacting the lead.

I write and maintain several plugins ... none of them (to me at least) are good ad targets. Sending me a message about "[my] plug-in" without specifying which one you mean is confusing, frustrating, and earns little more than an angsty blog response.