I was listening to a past episode of Albert Maruggi’s Marketing Edge as I was running this morning, and he was discussing a situation he had encountered at the end of last year where he spoke at a small conference on social media, and soon after received a prospecting letter from someone who had clearly just sent the same letter to everyone on the conference list, which had clearly been sent without any checking whatsoever as it was a direct competitor to Albert’s company, Provident Partners, but was touting for business.
It reminded me of a very similar situation I experienced recently. I gave a talk on social media to a group of business people – there must have only been about 50 in the room so it wasn’t an enormous database. Soon after I received an email from someone who opened with the obligatory ‘Hi Nancy’ and then gone on to say that it was a pleasure meeting me (they hadn’t) and what did I think of ‘the speaker’ (I wasn’t even given a name)? I was then asked whether I was interested in doing business with them (after this start, I would suggest not).
I actually wrote back very politely and suggested to the person that perhaps this had been sent to me in error, as I was ‘the speaker’. To give credit, the author immediately came back and apologised for not checking before the merged emails went out.
But, I really want to emphasise Albert’s point that he made in his podcast. Honestly, if you want to succeed in business nowadays – and believe me, it isn’t easy to do so, no matter what all of the adverts say, then you need to be genuine and real with people. Customers are not just another name on a database. They are humans who are subconsciously giving you a single chance to make a good impression. For the 5 extra minutes it might have taken to check the database, discover who was appropriate to send the email or letter to, and then tailored a separate email or letter to the people the form letter wasn’t appropriate for, you could win an extra customer, advocate or referrer.
The problem is, in our desperate desire to streamline and save time, the detail can slip. But, in my opinion, detail, personality and care should be the most important things, over and above numbers, eyeballs and quotas. You have far more chance of gaining a new customer if you have taken the time to speak to them personally than if you have just dumped a large group of names in a pot and hoped that one might bite.
One of the problems with mass-mailing, mass-connecting, mass-consumption and mass-communication is that everyone ends up getting treated like a number. I don’t know about you, but I am not happy with that. I am far more likely to do business with someone who has taken a bit of time than someone who fires out merged newsletters, emails or letters.
Seth Godin talked this weekend about the growing desire for handcrafted goods. I would extend this to say that we all have a growing desire for handcrafted, personal conversation. The fastest way to turn off a prospect is to treat that prospect as if they don’t matter. They do. They could be your next biggest fan.
Thank you to pinkangelbabe for the image