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Do I Know You? Follow-up Is All About Relationship

The art of marketing is all about relationships. If you want to sell something you need to cultivate that relationship. And if you don’t have one, don’t pretend that you do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy on the web, especially since you have people coming to your website who are in all different stages of any relationship. You have to find a way to speak to the new person and draw them into a relationship with you while not talking down to the person which you already have an established relationship with.

But that’s dealing with web sites. Emails are altogether different. With email, you have the ability to speak directly to the person based on the relationship you have. If you are sending out mass emails this might require crafting a few different emails for different groups of people, but the cost in all of that is relatively minimal all the way around.

While it doesn’t take much to add that extra touch of relationship building or confirming in your message, every little bit goes a long way. Unfortunately, if you get it wrong, the damage done can be long-standing. Not only have you destroyed your credibility, you may sour the relationship entirely or prevent yourself from ever establishing that relationship to begin with.

Last week I receive two emails that were completely misguided. And both came from companies that should have known better. The first was from a sponsor at the PubCon conference in Vegas. Before you read this, let me preface it by saying that I attended two conferences this year: Search Engine Strategies in San Jose and PubCon in Vegas. You’ll immediately be able to pick out one of the things wrong in this first email:

Hello ,

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Ad Tech show in New York a couple of weeks ago. I hope you enjoyed your holiday. As discussed, please find a list of our top converting sites and best sellers for your at http://www.joebucks.com/stats.html for your reference.

The email went on from here with their marketing message but really they lost me at hello! First of all, if I met with this person, why don’t they know my name? I’ll tell you why, they never met me! They obviously got my email from the list of PubCon participants and then sent out this (spam?) email to everybody who attended. Not smart, especially for an affiliate marketing company.

Perhaps they could have started the email “Sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk at PubCon”. That would have been perfrect for me and dozens, if hot hundreds of others. Anybody that they did specifically get a chance to talk to would have been fine receiving this particular email. Undoubtedly, that would have been the fewer of the bunch.

The other problems with this email are pretty obvious–and pretty boneheaded. Someone should have gotten fired over this. I never attended Ad Tech so it is impossible that they met me there. This message was obviously created for the Ad Tech participants and someone decided that the same email should be sent to the PubCon participants. Problem is, they didn’t think to re-read the message and change it for the PubCon attendees. A pretty glaring oversight.

Oh, and I love the “as discussed” part. Dang, that’s pretty risky, even if we had met. What are the chances that we discussed this one thing in particular? Pretty good if we had an actual conversation, but not if I had idly walked by their boot and dropped off my business card. Really, it’s just a poor approach.

The second email is from an SEO firm which I respect. I’m not sure how or why, but it seems they put me on their client list. I’m not, nor am I someone who needs to be kept up on this company’s day-to-day operations. Check this one out.

Hello, this is Dave Davies from Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Inc.

Unfortunately we are being hit with another round of snow here in Victoria. This is a true rarity here (usually we get about an inch per year which prompty melts). After a foot last Sunday and more today we are having to close the office for Wednesday, November 29th. This closure may extend through the morning of the 30th but we will be back in the office on Thursday afternoon.

The wisdom of our city saw all our snow plows sold off a number of years ago due to their lack of use. πŸ˜‰

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause. We will be responding to all emails tomorrow afternoon.

Now I do like the tone of the letter. Its warm, friendly and even a tad funny. I like that. But again, I don’t need to know this because I’m not their client. But the worst part about this was that I received this email on the morning of November 30… about the time they should have already returned to the office. What gives? You’re telling me you’ll be away for a few days after you have already returned? Again, a pretty useless bit of knowledge.

There is credibility in words. Choose the wrong words for the right people and you lose. Choose the right words for the right people and you can gain incredible credibility points. You just need to know what you’re saying and to whom. Check your message and don’t forget spelling and grammar. Mistakes happen, but at a cost.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

8 Responses to Do I Know You? Follow-up Is All About Relationship

  1. Jason Green says:

    Perhaps these letters were genuine mistakes; that is to say for example if someone mixed up the “I saw you at PubCon” and the “I saw you at ad-tech” bins. Regardless this is at best business negligence. It does however provide sound food for thought:
    *How do mistakes like this reflect upon the internal workings of an organization in the eyes of the beholder?
    *How does timing and schedule effect the interpretation and effectiveness of communications?
    *What are the possible pitfalls inherent in cookie-cutter business communications?

  2. Seth Tachick says:

    It would’ve taken what, a whopping 3-4 minutes to taylor that email to pubcon attendees? I sure hope that was a mistake. If not, it appears that they are just pure lazy and aren’t concerned about achieving their business objectives.

  3. Carsten Cumbrowski says:

    I got an email too from another company that started how nice our personal meeting was at the last ad-Tech conference which I did not attend, nor any other ad-Tech conference for that matter.

    I usually delete those email without reading anything that follows, because whatever that is, can not be related to me, what I want or what I asked for.

    Luckily for the senders of this kind of email is the fact that I forget about it quickly since I only spent a second or two on that email. If it becomes a habit of somebody to send emails like that over and over again, different story.

    I am forgiving a mistake that was made once, especially this kind of error, but that is because I know how it can be with the 1,000 things you have to do with not enough time to do it. It happens to the best of us that you make an error like that, especially if you are tired and just want to get this last thing done before you fall asleep. It usually does not take much for those kinds of errors to happen. It is often nothing more than 1 or 2 wrong clicks or a click too early (“send” / “complete” / “publish”).

    However. I think what is more important than the fact that we all make mistakes is how we act on them. If you become aware of the mistake do something to remedy it, by sending out an apology for example. Doing nothing is not always the correct action in those cases.

    This was a good and important post. It reminds me that we are all flawed humans regardless how professional we want to be.

  4. Bulbboy says:

    I really hate the follow up emails that some folks send out, correcting their earlier “mistake.” Deep down you know that they just wanted to fill up your inbox with their name. Doesn’t endear me to them.
    πŸ™

  5. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    I disagree Bulbboy… I think if a mistake such as this was made the very least the company should do is to apologize. I’m still waiting and am suprised that I’ve not seen any other mention of this (especialy the first one) within the community. They really should apologize. But then again, maybe an apology would only highlight the fact that they sent out an automated email that tried to sound as if it weren’t.

  6. Stoney … I love the first e-mail πŸ™‚ It’s as if there is not enough negative perception of many affiliate networks that they have to show this side to them.

    I once had the same kind of an e-mail sent to me (not from Joeshmucks). I guess I had few minutes, so I replied to them with suggestions of how to do things right. Surprisingly … no, not surprised …. didn’t hear back from them (and the e-mail didn’t bounce).

    Anyway … it’s just a reminder that we’re all humans, using tools that make us a bit bigger. Problem is … if we screw up, some of us engage and respond to fix the problem and some just sit there like fools. (Can you tell that today is my day off?)

    Good post.

  7. Therapy New York says:

    β€œThe art of marketing is all about relationships.” Yes, I think this is basis for any business. I have received emails from companies that appear to know me. I would rush and open the email to realize that a company is trying to sell me something. I don’t really look at products from people that just happen to appear in my email inbox. This post will definitely make me think about how I approach relationships.