Last year my chums at the Toronto Convention Bureau invited me to a terrific party, where they had employed some professional lookalikes to celebrate the city’s great film festival. And my attention was drawn – in the interests of research only, of course – to a charming young lady who looked like a certain famous actress. (Well, in reality she looks like the much younger and prettier sister of Mrs Pitt.) Her name is Lina, she’s an accomplished actress and presenter in her own right and, as you’ll see from the photo, she fell for the old “superglue on the shoulder” trick.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I’m running a marketing course where the issue of customer communication came up, and the inevitable question of “how often should I contact my customers about my events?”
Now, the textbooks will say that most sales require at least 5 “hits’ with the customer; however, many delegates were unhappy with this. They take the (not unreasonable) view that the customer might be irritated.
So I showed them the photo that adorns this page. And I asked the question, “do you think I’d mind if this young lady contacted me 5 times?” The answer was a resounding “no” (although several asked if she was insane being that close to me, and three requested her phone number). I then asked them if they thought I would mind if I received an email every hour from Lina? Same answer, of course.
And the lesson? If we are really interested in something (or someone) there is no such thing as “too often.” If customers aren’t interested, contacting them even once is too much; if you have something of value to tell them, talk to them frequently. (Put simply, if I send you a £5 note every day, no obligation, is there a point where you’d ask me to stop?) The trouble is so many corporate messages are anodyne and dull. Please understand this; no-one cares how long you’ve been in business, where your Head Office is, how many staff you have, or who your other clients are. What they want is for you to educate them, surprise them, stimulate them, shock them. They want ideas, thoughts and information that they can actually use. Do your messages offer that? (The answer is “no”, so put your hand down at the back.)
As a result of my encounter with Lina, I now offer a service to some of my favourite clients where I write an email for them to send every day. Oh, there’s a subtle sell in the content, of course, but generally there are statistics, jokes, ideas, analysis, thoughts, and occasionally some funny and possibly obscene stories. I’m allowed to offend (within reason and for a purpose) and I get lots of (mostly) lovely feedback from readers. And the results in terms of business are off the scale in terms of response. If you’re wanting to tell me the approach wouldn’t work for your company, please don’t even waste your breath.
Oh, and Lina, it was a pleasure meeting you, and I’ve made my point. Could you have that restraining order lifted now?