Congratulations: you’ve created a successful sales funnel and now you’re fielding calls left and right. But, your work is not done yet: after laying the groundwork to get those customers and prospects to call, don’t blow it all with a poorly handled call experience. In nearly every business, placing a caller on hold is inevitable and, most of the time, unavoidable. If you want to make sure your caller is still on the line when you’re ready to help them, consider the profit-boosting benefits of “On Hold Marketing”. What Happens When Leads are Put on Hold? Nearly 7 out of every 10 business calls end up being placed on hold. And while placing a call on hold might not seem detrimental, it’s actually the fastest way for your business to squander potential sales. Studies show that most callers who are subjected to silence or annoying beeps on hold perceive their wait as nearly 3 times as long. They’re also not likely to stick around until their call can be answered. If you aren’t using On Hold Marketing, you might be surprised at how many sales your current phone system is costing you. How to Profit with On Hold Marketing On Hold Marketing helps you hang onto your callers so you can handle their calls while simultaneously promoting your business. If you have to use the hold button, you can ensure a positive customer experience that could even yield bottom line benefits. Here are 7 things you can do with that otherwise wasted time when your customers are on hold: #1. Share New Products That hot new product or service you just developed won’t exactly be flying off the shelves until people know about it. Use hold time to talk to an already captive audience about the “next big thing” with your business. Even one extra sale a day can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. #2. Promote Your Services What deems you the go-to choice? You know you’ve got a good business, but if you want to be successful, you need to let others know why you trump the competition. On-hold messages give you a chance to talk about services people might not know you offer. Continue to remind them what makes you the better choice – they’ll catch on. #3. Build Your Brand Image Whether you have callers experiencing your company for the first time, or loyal customers who ask for you by name, people are continually influenced by every interaction with your brand. It’s important to use every available opportunity to shape your brand image, especially for callers who have nothing more to go on than the way you sound on the phone. On-hold messages can build a strong brand image because they continue to speak directly to your captive audience when you are unable to speak to them yourself. Callers learn about your company on hold through the words you say and the music you play, so don’t blow a chance to make a good impression with dead air or annoying beeps. #4. Advertise Sales And Specials Limited edition items? Free gift with purchase? Entire store Buy 1 Get 1 Half Off? These are the things your callers need to know, and they may never know unless you specifically tell them. Use hold time to talk about current specials and promotions. Discovering exclusive sales and limited time offers can draw them directly from the phone call to your front door. #5. Use Humor Let’s face it: No one likes to be placed on hold. Injecting a little humor into the on-hold messaging mix not only lightens the caller’s mood, it makes your company appear a little more favorable. Humor turns the mundane, and sometimes infuriating, call experience into a surprisingly enjoyable one that, if done right, will leave a lasting impression on your callers. One company who sets a prime example of humor on hold is Southwest Airlines. Callers have delighted in Southwest Airlines’ useless trivia, like:- “Did you know that most people breathe out of a different nostril every three to four hours? Just thought you’d like to know.” And not many could resist cracking a smile when an announcer interrupts a message telling the caller to “Please switch the phone to the other ear so [they] can make sure they can hear the entire message.” With some of the most talked about on-hold blurbs, Southwest Airlines uses unexpected and amusing humor to break out of the traditional “Your call is important to us” queue messages. In fact, Southwest Airlines’ on-hold strategy is so competent and well-branded it actually gets people to call back simply to listen to the rest of the reel. #6. Broadcast Upcoming Events If you’re hosting an event, an advertisement on your front door can only go so far. On Hold Marketing provides an excellent (and cheap) outlet to talk about upcoming events for your business, especially to those who may have never even stepped foot through your doors. Fundraisers, cookouts, contests, food drives, one-day sales, appreciation days, festivals – whatever the social calling, you can talk about it on hold for pennies per impression. You might not glean any immediate feedback, but your final event head count should be enough indication your On Hold Marketing succeeded. #7. Employ Co-Op Marketing Marketing usually means spending money to make more money, but On Hold Marketing is one of those rare occasions where you don’t have to foot the entire bill yourself. If you’re in retail of any form, partner with your vendors to recoup some of your advertising expenditures. You can give them a block of prime hold time in exchange for picking up part of the tab. They benefit, too, since they are poised to sell more product to you if you’re able to convert more sales. Plus, the closer you get your On Hold Marketing costs to free, the more profit you stand to rake in. If you’re in the right industry and you orchestrate it properly, your On Hold Marketing could pay for itself. And who doesn’t like free marketing? Does On Hold Marketing Work? There is plenty of skepticism when it comes to seeing results from On Hold Marketing efforts, and for valid reason. Unless you specifically hear someone say that they heard about something while on hold, you may have absolutely no idea if your message is getting through. As with any marketing strategy, the best way to test the effectiveness of your on hold marketing is to set clear goals and continually track, test, and tweak. Simple A/B testing can improve your metrics significantly: If you aren’t getting much direct feedback from callers, try switching the background music or the voice reading your messages. In conclusion, On Hold Marketing provides one of the most cost-effective forms of “word of mouth” advertising you can get. Getting prospects to call is hard enough, and on-hold messaging can help solidify a positive experience. So don’t look at it as placing your callers on hold – think of it as holding onto your callers. Image: Macro shot of a telephone’s feature buttons with the hold button red and activated.