The Marketing Trap: Frequency vs. Relevance

If you're doing any marketing you fall into one of two camps: The frequent marketer who abuses the power of opt-in, connect and follow or the relevant marketer who has taken the time to understand their audience and, in the words of Seth Godin, "will you be missed?" 

The keyboard button we press to send is labeled ENTER or RETURN, the resulting behaviors we hope for - an opt-in, a completed Call-To-Action form, maybe even a purchase. And our overly eager expectations, what I'd like to call the "Just Because Syndrome" frequently get us in trouble.

Just because we exchanged business cards, I liked you on FB, followed you on Twitter or filled a form, does not give you the right to flood my inbox with self-promoted junk. That's not marketing; it's simply annoying.

If you flood it, they won't come. They'll leave forever.

While marketers have an arsenal of outbound marketing tools at their disposal, prospects and customers only need one: Unsubscribe, opt-out or an email filter that sends everything trash.

I must admit that despite the fact that I am a marketing professional, I still fall for cleverly disguised traps; As an avid reader and educator, I am addicted to great content that fine tunes my knowledge and helps my clients. Last week I was hooked by an amazing piece of content and was happy to opt-in for future articles. What followed next was a nonstop assault on my inbox - a barrage of hard-sell offers that included "expires today at midnight" or "offer extended" nonsense.

Here's the thing: The old adage of "they are doing this because enough people must be buying" is so 19th-century sales tactics; no, sloppy marketers engage in this behavior because sending emails or posting social media junk is free.

Free has become a license to intrude, steal time and rob us of productivity.

Marketers (or if you're a client make sure you manage your agency) have an option; they can push me to say goodbye forever, or try this instead:

I opt-in to receive a free download. Follow up once by confirming that I received it (very cool); then ask if I enjoyed the reading and whether I would like to receive more of the same? I'm OK receiving a weekly promotion - I get it, you need to sell in order to stay in business and guess what? If you "earn the right" to ask me for support, I will gladly buy from you. Simple right?

See how easy that was? A world of opportunities opens up when marketers focus on the value they provide rather than how many touches they need to make a sale.

No, I get it, I really do - those email marketers told you that it takes upward of seven (7) touches before anyone reacts so you'll keep hammering away until you get one, right? Sorry, wrong; for a single 7-touches success story, there are many more recipients who got pissed off and opted out forever. 

Here's a great lesson that my mother drilled into me for many years: Always say please and thank you.

There is a huge, frequently missed distinction between marketing and sales. The role of marketing is to deliver qualified leads. The role of sales is to convert them into happy and returning customers.

The only way marketing can drive results is by establishing a genuine and transparent engagement with potential customers - an engagement signifies the start of a long term relationship and if you ever want to hear "Yes" when you ask, "will you marry me?" you have to nurture your relationship (marketing) not kill it. Relevance and "Permission Marketing" (Seth Godin) wil get you to the altar.

Don't ever assume that you're relevant; it is safer and polite to just ask. The way to establish relevance is by making content available, not pushing content down someone's throat. Take a look at HubSpot, a brilliant execution of sharing massive amounts of great content without being annoying. Yes, you have to complete a form to get to the 'download' button but that's it.

HubSpot has never pestered or chocked my inbox with useless or aggressive post-content sales tactics. What makes them even greater? While they would love for us to use their platform they frequently say, "if you don't have HubSpot here's something else you can use." Brilliant.

The result? I filter HubSpot emails and social posts with big red labels because I can't wait for their next piece of content.

You can never go wrong by adopting an abundance mentality as part of your marketing and corporate culture. We no longer have or keep secrets - we willingly share hoping for a meaningful connection with our subscribers or readers. Building a long-lasting friendship takes effort and time and you can't force it:

Being relevant and patient is the only way to drive marketing results.