On Friday I got home to the usual pile of post - credit card statement, bank statement, TV license and other hugely exciting stuff, and also... a handwritten letter. I was quite excited as these days these are fairly few and far between and are generally either an invite, or photos of my friends' kids.
I opened it up to find a newspaper clipping, and a Post-it note "Saw this and thought of you. J"
Well I was stumped, trying to think of any Js I knew? Hmm... It's not unusual for friends to send me ideas and articles about all kinds of things, but this was for a series of motivational products - grow your business at 1,000% type thing and how many people would send me something like this? I started reading the article which sounded more and more like a get rich quick scheme to me.
And that's when I looked a little bit more closely at the Post-it and the envelope and realised that although they looked handwritten... they were actually typed. The key giveaway really was that my company name was included, and most friends wouldn't bother to put this on.
I was torn - partly I was impressed by the thought that gone into creating what was essentially a piece of junk mail, but which I had not only opened, but spent 5 minutes reading, and partly I was affronted - I had been tricked into thinking this was from a friend. Was I just being a bit dim, it being Friday afternoon? Well I took it in to the office this week - where I work in... the Marketing Department, handed it to a colleague of mine, who spent 10 minutes reading it before having it pointed out to her that it wasn't a letter from a friend of mine. And she is fairly on the ball.
Clever marketing or a scam? Personally, even if a friend had sent this to me I wouldn't buy it - it's just not my kind of thing - and I have so many motivational and positive resources recommended to me by good friends (real, actual, alive friends) that this would come near the bottom of my wish list. I guess I worry for more vulnerable people, people like my family or elderly relatives who might take action based on something like this, whereas a dodgy internet scam would pass them by (mainly because they don't really understand email.) But again, I doubt anybody who is at least a little switched on would even consider buying this product - but I guess somebody does?
It's a fine line - how many people have received a Christmas card before being a little deflated that it's from a supplier, some are even efficient enough to send out birthday cards, but aren't they always a bit of a let down? (Presents from a supplier or agency are never a let down I hasten to add - always feel free to send me goodies!) But I'd say you could probably put that under the header of maintaining business relationships - but what if it's from a potential supplier - someone trying to ingratiate themselves? Isn't it just a bit random?
I think we've got used to the relentless deluge of email junk - and I have to say there are some pretty good junk mail filters - and it's common enough to get birthday e-cards because so many websites ask for your date of birth, but I don't know, is it me or is there something a bit intimidating when it crosses over into the real world? As a frequent visitor of internet dating sites it's one thing to get random emails from strangers, and dozens of winks, flirts, pokes or whatever, but if one of them was to send me a letter, or a bunch of flowers (now here presents or flowers are just plain weird) I'd be calling the police, contacting the website, getting another Rottweiler and probably camping out at a mate's house while I organised the movers.
In the end I think it's a shame. The internet, and indeed any good marketing, should be about bringing people together, and bringing them to what that they are looking for, whether it's hotels, spas and everything else I include under the heading of "escapes" on my site or that special person, but when people start using information freely given on one site to scam or just randomly market, or in the case of internet dating send inappropriate emails (and sometimes photos!) then it puts people off going on the internet at all - let alone giving the information that can enable them to get the best of the web. I made the decision early on to treat all of my customers as I would my friends. I am inundated with offers that I could add to my site, but my criteria for adding anything is stringent and simple: Is it something I have tried and tested? (Because I wouldn't recommend to a friend anything I hadn't already tried out.) And is it something I would buy? Sometimes it's a no brainer - would I go back there? If so, I'll recommend. Other times it's a little more complicated - JML sent me a special offer for a Magic Bullet blender set. I absolutely love this product and yes I would totally recommend it, it's changed my world, but... the pack they are selling is about 4 times the size of the one I bought and 3 times the price. Would I buy it? Actually no, £60 is more than I would spend and this is more kit than I would like in my kitchen. So the offer went in the bin.
I could take the other route and advertise everything, but I'm just getting started and I want to start with the highest possible standards, build a loyal customer base who try the recommended products and services and come back. There is plenty of time for me to get jaded and less conscientious later!
In business, as in life, our choices define us, and that includes what we choose not to do as much as what we do. In this case what we choose not to sell, or how we choose not to sell. Let's err on the side of integrity and honesty - otherwise we risk switching people off to the idea of internet marketing at all, and, in the end, switching off the internet.
Permission is granted to publish this article electronically in free-only publications, such as websites and ezines (print requires individual permission) provided that the resource box is included without any modifications. All links must be active. A courtesy copy is requested on publication (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Article: Is This Clever Marketing?
Author Name: Pearl Howie
Word Count: 1,087
Category: Travel Tips
Copyright Date: 2010
Web Address: http://www.pearlescapes.co.uk
About the author:
Pearl Howie (email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org) runs Pearl Escapes http://www.pearlescapes.co.uk a fledgling website devoted to finding safe, easy and affordable escapes - holidays, spa treatments, days out, etc. and providing great advice at every step of your journey.
In order to give the best possible information Pearl only includes things that she has actually tried - whether it is a spa, hotel or flight. Visit the website to read her Recommendations, plus the ones that didn't quite make it and the Jellyfish that you should absolutely avoid! Or visit her blog http://www.pearlescapes.co.uk/Basics/Pearls_Blog/Pearls_Blog.html to read about some of the adventures she has along the way.
Email me at email@example.com
(c) Pearl Howie 2015. All rights reserved.