“Hi there! How’s it going? I just discovered your website and I have to say it’s really great. The content really shows that you’re the best in the industry. I’m sure you receive hundreds of emails like this but mine is the one to pay attention to because with the introductory SEO package I can offer you and your awesome sales team, you’ll be driving even more customers to your store and excellent products!”
Any guesses how long it took me to hit the “delete” key on this ground-floor opportunity?
For starters, I wasn’t personally addressed by name, nor was the name of the website referenced. Flattering to know the sender thinks I’m the best in the industry…and yet doesn’t identify what my particular industry is. And while it’s true indeed that I receive hundreds of emails making the same glowy promises of global exposure, where exactly is this store stuffed to the gills with trendy merchandise supposed to be? For that matter, who’s on my awesome sales team? I should take them to lunch.
Like many a salesperson on the hustle, it’s the old “Let’s just throw a big plate of spaghetti against the wall and see how much of it sticks.” While now and again an accidental noodle and some sauce might get someone’s attention, it’s more often than not an enormous waste of pasta (and probably broken plates). To make matters worse, they never even think of varying the recipe before they’re skipping off to the next wall, thus perpetuating a messy cycle of trial and error.
Let’s apply this for a moment to writers. A colleague of mine was recently lamenting her history of copious rejection letters. Her style, I learned, was the scattergun approach of ignoring submission rules and simply sending out the same manuscript to every magazine she could think of. While an impersonal “Dear Sir or Madam” photocopied letter should never be cause for tears, I asked what she did about the ones where an editor actually took the time to offer some constructive advice. “Oh, I just need to find the right editor,” she dismissively replied. In other words, “I like my spaghetti recipe exactly the way it is and I refuse to change it for anyone.”
In the arena of sales, how much do you really know about your customers’ interests, needs and wants? Do you really expect them to take seriously any mass-produced “Hi there! I’ve been thinking about you” letter that was stuffed without any thought into an envelope or distributed with even less thought via an electronic mailing list? Do you ever consider when you throw your spaghetti that some of your customers might be vegetarian? Or gluten-intolerant? Or on a tight budget and unable to afford artisanal marinara? Are you averse to switching up or swapping out ingredients just because “this is the way we’ve always done it”?
Takeaway lesson: Whatever you think you’re saving by doing generic, one-size-fits-all advertising may actually be costing you much more than you realize in terms of building customer trust and a belief that you sincerely care about what they’re really hungry for.
Here’s my line-up of stellar guest bloggers this month:
Giving Back Made Easy – by Lee Romano Sequeira
How Your Name Is Your Most Important Brand – by Rainier Fuclan
Challenging The Disconnect Between What Science Shows And Business Does – by Linda Ray
5 Ways to Simplify Scheduling During a Busy Season – by Brett Duncan
Building a Culture of Health at Start-Up – by Jill Gambaro