I don’t often think of myself as old but I remember a time when sales and marketing people had to have a bit of graciousness.
I was in sales and marketing before the internet, email, new media, social media and spam and whilst I am a huge advocate of email marketing it seems to have got people behaving very strangely.
In the old, old days when I was a boy learning my trade the phone and the shoe leather were the only tools available to the proactive marketer without the budget for advertising or expensive mail shots. Invariably you would spend a huge amount of time on the phone cold calling or on your heels knocking on doors. And guess what, you would spend the majority of your time trying to engage with people who didn’t particularly want to engage with you. The trick then was to push your offer as far as was polite and make sure there really was no opportunity before extricating yourself without upsetting them, because there is absolutely no point in making enemies when you are looking for customers, is there?
But it would appear times have changed and good grace appears to have been confined to the history books.
Recently I have recieved a couple of interesting emails. The first was about a subject that is very close to my heart, Social Media. It offered links to videos that would transform my marketing over night, like they all do. I am very interested in this subject so I followed the links, watched a video of a man in his fifties in his garden talking about the overnight transformation of my business using his programme, followed some more links and then I got to the point, and the point was $2,000. $2000 for more videos of his incredible success formula which I am guessing will be about sending emails asking people for $2,000. So I emailed, questioning his sanity and asking that he stop emailing me. But he didn’t, so four days, and four emails later I responded again stating that this was the second request. His response was “oh well, must have missed it, you can unsubscribe at the bottom of this mail.” Which didn’t strike me as the most gracious of exits, why expect me to do something else when I have already asked twice.
The second event happened only yesterday. I along with around 100 other contacts received a marketing email about networking events in Kent. How do I know there were 100 of us, because the person who sent it had open cc’ed all of us. That’s right, he was broadcasting his customer and prospects email addresses. I am a generous sort so I emailed him back to say that there might be people on the list that wouldn’t be happy for him to be broadcasting their email addresses and that if he were to use a tool like Mail Chimp he could avoid this indiscretion in the future and get some great feedback that would enable him to improve his email marketing. He emailed me back stating this is the way they have always done it and no-one had complained before and he had taken me off the list. I felt that he had missed the point so I called him to let him know that I wasn’t objecting to him sending me the email but then he hung up on me. So I emailed him again letting him know how he had left him exposed, and he called me threatening legal action and I had better have a good lawyer. So there it is from incredibly bad email marketing to legal action in three emails and two telephone conversations, that can’t have been what he hoped to achieve, can it?
Whilst there are laws that are intended to protect us from this extraordinarily bad and lazy marketing, the most effective law there ever was is the law of sensibility that states when you are marketing you are looking to make friends not enemies.
When people email me to unsubscribe from my lists I drop them a mail that says “I am sorry if my mails have caused you any annoyance or inconvenience, I have now unsubscribed you and if you need anything else from me here is my mobile number.” And the reponse is always positive. You see a little bit of grace is all that is required to make friends with people, maybe they just want to know that you are human, that you respect them and that you are interested in them, so that they can be friends with you.
Email marketing is a fantastic tool that has had an extraodinary benefit on my business and it works best with a little bit of humility, old fashioned good manners and of course the right tools.