Two voice mail spam messages I received over the last seven days teach a lot about engagement — even if I only listened to enough of each to have that educational experience and then (sadly) deleted them. I realize they would have made great case studies in a presentation.

The first voice mail message came from a candidate in the municipal election. Isabel Metcalfe is competing to be councillor of Capital Ward, the ward we live in. Last week she voice mail spammed the constituency. It was clear in the opening moment of the voice mail that I was being talked at. It was in the delivery. I lasted about three seconds before deleting the message.

I Tweeted about that message. Several people responded that they, too, had fallen victim to this interruption-based approach to reaching voters. One of the respondents, our friend Tim Wayne, told me he had received the same message and listened to it in it’s entirety. He noted the purpose wasn’t clear and there was no call to action. Opportunity lost.

By contrast, I received a voice mail message earlier this evening that I felt pleasantly duped by. It was a marketing call and in the opening moments I really felt like someone I knew had left me the message. The speaker was sincere when he said “Hey! It’s Tony.” Tony? Hmmm. Someone I met at a conference? I couldn’t place him but felt I might know him. I kept listening.

“I don’t know how things are going with Carbon Copy, but…”

At this point I thought maybe it was a customer service rep following up on a purchase I’d made a long while back. It wasn’t until he kept going that I realized I was listening to one of those ‘work from home and make $1500 per week’ scams.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. The person who depends on interpersonal relationships to get elected spoke at me and the pyramid sales guy spoke to me knowing I would give him a few extra seconds of attention for the effort. Sadly, I more immediately depend on the former’s abilities as a communicator.

It’s like music. Musicians have just a few seconds to hook their audience. We won’t wait for the melody and especially not the chorus if the opening bars of the song are weak and the performance flat.

Have you ever listened to a full voice mail spam message?

Photo: When patterns break uploaded to Flickr by lyzadanger.