It can be worse to be too visible than invisible when prospecting

Wh-a-a-a-t? Isn’t the aim of marketing to be seen, heard and felt—giving your message the best chance of being acted upon?

Not always. Ability to reach far, wide and often has opened up new vistas and opportunities for marketing. Eager to take advantage of this growing exposure and influence, some marketers go way overboard and end up alienating the very people who could become (or remain) customers/clients if they would just be less “present.” In a broad sense, in both the prospecting and customer retention realms, this can wind up being horrid customer service.

I’m currently experiencing an onslaught of emails and letters from a prospective lender. They’re relentless and irritating, and have made my decision-making boil down to, “Do I apply for a loan DESPITE this onslaught or check out someone else?” I haven’t decided.

Sure, I can unsubscribe to the emails, but not the letters. I haven’t so far, in part because of curiosity to see how long and often they harangue me. However, they’re likely triggering a lot of “unsubscribes” from people fed up with the over-communication.

I also get annoyed at social networkers who view social media channels as their personal sales-hype channel. Posting/publishing helpful, how-to information with your name on it is a way to build credibility, trust and respect. Blatantly promoting yourself constantly, without any substantive or compelling message, does just the opposite. I’ve seen people on social media channels whose constant self-promoting drivel makes me want to run away as fast as possible. My initial openness to communicating with these people withers quickly, and my thoughts about them become destined for the trash can.

So, how much is too much? How much is just right? How much is too little? Without knowing or understanding the prospect, it’s a guessing game at best. Too often, marketers approach the arena with the same attitude that companies do when dispensing healthcare-related advice—one size fits all. In fact, we’re all different, our needs are different, our wants our different, and our reactions to foods, beverages, supplements and pills will vary.

One-size-fits-all healthcare doesn’t address our individuality. Neither does much of the marketing information being shared out there. One person may be open to receiving information weekly; another monthly. Preferences for one person that can trigger a purchase may be just the opposite for another.

So, why pursue a one-size-fits-all marketing effort? Often, it boils down to not investigating individual preferences before promoting. By default, you decide on messaging, frequency and delivery channels based on some pre-conceived notion of what will work as a “least common denominator.”

A step up from this is marketers who define their prospective marketplaces. Personas of various groups are developed and marketed to based on a range of demographic and psychographic factors. Properly done, it provides some segmentation, but as individuals we often don’t fit the pattern no matter what this data tells us.

The very best way to address individual buying triggers is to discover in-depth who, what, when, where, why and how—which can be a massive investigative reporting task. Increasingly, tech-driven data mining is unlocking pieces of the puzzle for those willing and able to spend the time and money to do it.

Given that this isn’t an option for many companies, what good policies and protocols can be put into place in an effort to find the sweet spot between being invisible and too visible? We’ll address this next week.

The New Year offers a logical time for companies to review and regear customer service policies. This is the first in a continuing series about “hidden” customer service-oriented practices that may be helping or hurting your business.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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