If you are like me, and pretty much everyone I know, you get A LOT of email. You have at least a work account, a personal account (or two), and a junk email account. I have no doubt you receive emails in all of them that make you wonder, “Why am I getting this?”
That question becomes very prevalent after I speak at an event. It is common for attendees to pick up my business card and to add me to their list. I don’t get so much as a “hey, it was great to hear you speak”. I just start receiving newsletters and mass emails from them hawking their services.
I always feel a little awkward about these emails. One of the things I teach my clients to do is ‘unsubscribe’ from any lists that aren’t beneficial to them to limit the amount of mail they receive. While, I am always thrilled to be in contact with participants, and I certainly don’t want to offend anyone by saying “take me off of your list”, it isn’t really me that is on their list so much as just some email address on a card they picked up.
I can usually tell what event they attended by the service they are offering. I have wondered on and off if I should make an announcement before each talk along the lines of “It is great to be here and to talk to your group. Please be aware that I do not need the services of 100 dog groomers so please don’t pick up my business card just to add me to your list”.
I realize that sounds silly and of course I would never do it. But you see my point. If that is the shotgun approach they are using with all their potential clients, how likely are they to get a response? When did we become so lazy about our interaction with people who could potentially pay us money that hearing them speak or meeting them at an event was an invitation to send an email that provides them with no value?
This is what I would like instead – If we exchange business cards, email me personally (or respond to the email I send you). Let’s ‘chat’ about what we do. If you are into salt water fish tanks and I am in the market for one, I have no doubt it will come up. Tell me about the newsletter you put out and all the great information you provide about the latest in salt water fish and equipment. If I want to know about that stuff I am going to ask to be added to your list. If I don’t and you send me the new regulations for importing decorative fish, you will likely get a “please remove me from your list” email.
Don’t get me wrong. There are lists I love. They give me information I need or want: how to get publicity, my local volleyball and ballroom dance groups, upcoming coaching events, etc. When it is a list I want to be on, I am more likely to read and use the information provided. If it is not, it might get the momentary “do I need this?” look before being deleted. Don’t let that happen to your marketing emails.
What do you think? Has email made us lazy about getting to know potential clients and marketing to them? Or do you think the shotgun approach of just add every email you can get your hands on and see who falls in your lap works? I am very interested in your experience on both sides of this issue.
It should be noted that I do collect business cards at events by giving away coaching time and books. However, I do NOT add people to my list unless they ask to be added by making a note of it on the back of their card. Is my list smaller then it could be? Sure. Do I think I have a better quality list? Absolutely.