The code of the con is to know just enough about everything so you can lie about anything.E. Tancarville
I really avoid business phone calls going to voicemail. If I’m meeting with a client or have a screaming four-year-old in the car, that’s the only time you will get sent to my answering service.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from a blocked number right as I entered a meeting.
I silenced the call and walked into the building. If they wanted to talk business, they would leave a message. Less than 30 seconds later, I received another call from a blocked number. This time I promptly hit “decline” and gave them a fastpass to my voicemail.
Oddly, no message was left.
I thought nothing of it until I came home and found an odd, cryptic email.
Sent via my homepage form, a man simply known as Rob M sent the following:
Eric... I'm wondering which part of your brain, the right or left, made the determination not to answer the phone call you got a few minutes ago. I called you, and purposely blocked my number. I do that sometimes because it helps me make my own determination as to what type of personality someone might have. In this day and age, with so much garbage and nonsense associated with spam calls, robo calls and flat out dishonesty, it is NORMAL for someone...me included, to rarely take a call from a blocked number. But if someone DOES answer anyway, it may show that they are care free...willing to listen to anyone about anything, perhaps a bit compassionate, not wanting to be dismissive, and easy going. Of course, that could all be complete nonsense, as there is no scientific basis to back up my thought ! So, the first time I called, it went to your voice mail after about 6 rings. I waited about 5 minutes or so...and tried again. Still with blocked number. This time...it went to voicemail after only 2 rings...which means you probably hit the ignore button after those 2 rings, assuming I was one of the aggitating callers from some call center somewhere. That would have been your "left" brain at work. And....I would have LOST a bet. I would have easily been fine with allowing a $20.00 bill to leave the comfort of my wallet forever, by betting that you WOULD answer a blocked call. After reading your website, I had a strong feeling that you would answer, and......I would have without hesitation, bet a case of Iron City Beer...( made not too far East of you with an approximate value of $20.00 ) that you would have answered ! I was wrong. With that said Eric...I would LOVE to chat with you about your way of looking at web design.......your way of WRITING...and your way of expressing yourself to potential clients. You and I have MUCH...MUCH in common. I have owned my company for over 30 years, and I too, am very good at what I do. Be prepared, because I will flatter you with expressions of "WELL DONE" and will use many superlatives when describing how DIFFICULT it is to gain and KEEP my attention for as long as you did. Basically, I am going to say things to you, that people have said to me for more years than you may have been alive ! And for that..........WELL DONE ! You made me smile and you made me laugh out loud at one place because it reminded me SOOOOO much of ME ! Make sure to ask me which part. Anyway....I will try you again. And I will not block my number. But if you see a strange number, or..there are honestly times that my number shows as private even though I don't want it to..............assume it's me and answer if you can. Or......email me back and let me know you got this...and give me a couple of times that you could take a call. Try to set aside at least 15 minutes if you can. I will properly introduce myself...tell you how I found you...and at the very least...we will more than likely have a GREAT conversation. Who knows...I may even ask you to do a bunch of websites for me. We may be a really good fit for each other. We may not be. I know for sure we already have much in common. And...a phone call will let us both know if we may be able to help each other. If this piques your interest...get back to me and let me know when you can chat...and let's see if we can get our right and left brains tangled up a bit ? Look forward to hearing back from you. Rob M
At first, I thought the user was angered because I hit the decline button. I reread and realized this user wasn’t angry but was trying to strike up a conversation.
Cold Call Email Tactics
My years of listening to podcasts about every sales and marketing tricks help me spot obvious tactics. I might not like doing cold calls or cold emails, but I do understand that using specific principles can make this an effective way to get leads.
This email screamed as a well-thought-out, researched cold email.
- You could tell that the user researched sections of my website (referencing right brain, left brain).
- Stroked my ego by commenting on my writing style.
- Sparks curiosity by collaboration.
- Gives me a call to action (Answer the Next Call)
I would give Rob credit. This was well crafted. I was more intrigued than interested in his business partnership but was curious about his angle.
Who is Rob?
I was walking to my car, ready to pick up my kids from school and I received an incoming call to my business line. Sure enough, it was a blocked number.
One hour later, I knew far too much about Rob.
- Avid outdoorsman that relocated from Colorado to Alabama
- Penn State fan that enjoys working with people from the north
- Works with big clients, notably Walmart
- Teams with developers that make 5-7 websites per day
- Lives on a beach and owns horses
I could fill an entire blog with useless information that Rob told me. Mind you, I didn’t ask any of these questions. He talked, and talked, and talked.
The conversation was 90% Bob and 10% me.
From what I could gather, he was recruiting me to work with him as a developer. He would send me all the necessary files and I would just piece together these template websites.
Of course, he was going to pay me handsomely.
Finally, I had to stop this insanity.
Rob, I appreciate all of this but who the heck are you? What’s your company and what’s your name?
Of course, Rob was late for a meeting. He wanted me in front of a computer before he would reveal such information.
He would call me tomorrow.
I was buried with red flags. Yet, I was so intrigued by someone that would spend over 30 minutes on my website and an hour on the phone. What is his angle?
I told my wife, brother, and several friends. There were various opinions, but the most logical was that Rob was up to no good.
It’s likely Rob wanted me to click on a file he was going to send me and somehow hack into my computer – gaining access to my information and (his hopes) client data.
Once again, my podcasts help me discover such antics. Hacking Humans and Darknet Diaries open my eyes to crazy exploits by hackers and social engineers.
Rob was likable and relatable. His story was elaborate and not too far-fetched. He did his research and put some time and effort into his con. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the desperate freelancer web designer he thought he was targeting.
Before I was truly convinced Rob was a social engineer, I thought some simple Google searching would give me his identity.
My wife and I are problem solvers and take great pride in critical thinking and finding solutions for complex issues. Finding Rob was a task Lauren and I wanted to solve.
For an entire evening, we sat with our phones in hand googling “Alabama Web Design Companies”. I looked at nearly every Rob, Bob, Robert, and Bobby on LinkedIn (living in Mobile or from Colorado).
Rob gave me some obscure information that would help me if I was getting close.
- He likes websites with video homepages, that took up the full screen.
- His website has images of his “expensive house” and him riding a horse.
- Testimonial videos of him lead to most of his leads.
Lauren and I both found the same guy that fit his description. An older man in his 60s that traveled the world and runs an online magazine company. As much as I wanted it to be Rob, I wasn’t 100% confident. His voice just didn’t match (from watching video interviews).
I wasn’t able to solve the mystery and Rob never called back.
I think he realized I wasn’t biting when I was not impressed by how much money he “paid”.
Not Entirely a Waste of Time
Although I did spend an entire evening and a few hours, I didn’t leave empty-handed. Besides the nice reminder that I always need to be cautious when it comes to strangers, I ended up visiting a lot of Web Designer Websites.
Those who have been following my business and reading my blogs understand that my business sprouted up without much planning.
I was solving a problem small businesses had and word spread.
Unlike most startups, I didn’t get to do much market research and competitive analysis. During this initial planning phase, you find out what your competitors offer, charge, and their process. Through this process, you determine your unique selling proposition.
I managed to create a business in isolation. I truthfully had no idea what others were doing.
After scanning more than thirty Alabama web design websites, I realized there were some really great concepts and different philosophies.
Maybe it would beneficial to continue visiting other top web design companies.
Let’s Start with Alabama – Alphabetical Order
Can I research and create a list of the best web design companies, web design agencies, and web design firms for each state?
It must have been fate that Rob was from Alabama – the state that is listed alphabetically first. I have a head start for my first list.
Web Design Company Website Grading
As an SEO specialist, it’s obvious that I want to rank things. My list can’t just be a BuzzFeed listicle. There should be order and specifications.
Obviously, I can’t try each designer’s service. I can, however, review different aspects of the website and create a score.
Things to consider:
But I can’t look at every website. Instead, we can put together a simple plan for consistency.
We will review the top results for:
- Google – using the term “Best Web Design Company (state)”
- Bing – “Web Design Firms (state)”
- Duck Duck Go – “Web Design Agency (state)
- Clutch.co – “Top Web Design Companies (state)”
It’s also very important that we focus on mobile-friendliness. Since the majority of our searches are on mobile, I will only be reviewing the mobile site. I’m dedicated but not crazy. Reviewing 20+ web design companies’ websites on multiple screens is a bit overkill.
Posting the Results
I do have my own West Virginia Web Design Company to run, so I can’t promise I will plow through this list in one month. For this list to be an exhaustive “Best of…”, I will likely spend some time on each website. My first “trial website” took over an hour to fully review. I’m sure I’ll speed it up, but I hope to release one or two reviews per month.
I’m not sure who will be interested in this information (probably business owners in other states). In about a year, we will get to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. My goal is to Make a Better Web for the Ohio Valley. Let’s do the same for the USA.