Before you send anything to anyone human to human, you need to have permission. That’s just good manners, right? As a society, we’re pretty good at this behavior one on one. But when the sales and/or marketing dept gets involved, that’s not always the case. In fact, it rarely is.
As I say often, if marketing & communications is the business of building long lasting relationships with our target audiences, then one SURE FIRE way to destroy those relationships is to mess up on privacy and consent.
Marketing as a profession has an extremely poor track record re: privacy under the all-too-common mindset that if a little bit of marketing is good, then a whole bunch MUST be better. And of course, this isn’t true at all.
And a lot of times, we just don’t have time to stop and think about the audience in any way on our way to sell them something. Case in point, I made the mistake of buying some guitar strings from Musician’s Friend recently. Since that time, they have increased their e-mails from one every few days to one or two every single day. Come on, man. Turn OFF the automation and use that noodle resting on your shoulders just a little bit OR…I will block your company both in future sales and future e-mails…forever. I want to like you. Don’t be an idiot and wreck it. You’re not gonna sell me more stuff because you send me more e-mails.
That’s what’s at stake every time we make the decision to communicate — absolutely everything. The entire relationship (we’ve worked for SO many years to build up) is in jeopardy every single time—and yet we put software in charge of it. When’s the last time YOU built a meaning relationship with software? Thought so.
With all of this in mind, here’s just a few tips to get privacy right.
- Think before you communicate. Use that E word — empathy. Do they want to receive this now? Why? Would you? Empathy is VERY powerful stuff when used correctly.
- Make the message in your communications useful to THEM — people like things that are helpful useful and appear to be about them more than about selling some more stuff.
- Know the privacy laws — CAN-SPAM and GDPR are important but new privacy laws are coming from states and also at the federal level that will make “consent to communicate” language very important. Make sure your opt outs are being managed appropriately because there are legal and relationship penalties for getting this stuff wrong.
In marketing, we don’t automatically just have the right to communicate to the world. We must earn that right and we must ask for permission—and our stuff has to be GREAT once permission is given. Remember, we aren’t in the “let’s just sell you now” business, we are supposed to be in the long-term relationship business. And THAT business requires creativity, patience and discipline.