If It’s Not Helpful, Don’t Do It

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I got an email from Amazon.  It was a reading pick list that was supposed to be for me but I never would have known it given the choices listed.  You see, I never, or at least very rarely, read novels, yet everything on this reading pick list was a novel.  I frankly found the missive in my mailbox annoying rather than helpful.

So what?  Why am I reporting this?  This is a great example of what can go wrong if businesses don’t take time to really get to know their customers.  Maybe they assumed I would like a diversion, maybe they sent the email with all of the right intentions, but my first thought was, “wow, given all of the business I’ve done with them, you’d think they would know what I like to read.”

Please be clear, this isn’t a slam on Amazon.  I think Amazon generally does a great job and is typically very customer focused and I am sure this was just a slip.  But there is a lesson here, get to know your customers and don’t assume things.  Take a look at their history, learn their preferences, learn their hot buttons, and share updates and suggestions only if they closely relate to what you know about them.  Don’t just email to keep your name and brand in their face, provide some value, some attempt to help.

Remember, the point of business is to help people not to bother them. So help people, add value, provide them with information that matches them, and if you want to stretch a little, make some connection to their history.  Make it clear that you are sharing because you sincerely thought it might be beneficial; in fact, explain the connection to their past purchases and how this new thing might help them.

Marketing is important, but useless marketing is irritating at best.  Make your marketing a service not an annoyance.

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