It has been a tough year for many businesses. COVID continues to leave its mark; some people remain furloughed, jobs have been lost, and there is still uncertainly about what is to come.
In this uncertainty lies frustration, but a new kind of frustration is starting to take shape: the barrage of unsolicited pitches across email and social media.
While this type of spam is nothing new—Twitter suffered for years from new followers wanting nothing more than to slide straight into your DMs with marketing messages—the degree to which it is impacting our daily communications is perhaps unprecedented.
In some ways, it is understandable. With traditional marketing channels yielding discouraging results and customers becoming more selective on expenses, a need has arisen to replace lost revenues with new ones, find new leads, and close more sales.
You’ll Annoy More People than You’ll Win Over
However, while the necessity is understandable, the method is flawed. People are quick to tire of repetition and grow annoyed at the repeated intrusions. And let’s be clear—they are intrusions. All of those unsolicited messages and emails flying across the web are becoming increasingly obnoxious.
It isn’t that sales pitches are inherently bad themselves. As a sales trainer, I’d never make such a claim. It’s that the ‘hoof it and hope’ approach being adopted by so many businesses now is the antithesis of good sales practice and etiquette. A good salesperson knows that they add value when they can solve a legitimate problem and respond to an immediate need. Recently, I’ve received messages about everything from blockchain to uniforms. Do I need these services? No. Did I ask for them? Definitely not.
When a business uses such tactics, it doesn’t fill me with confidence that they behave ethically, have a trustworthy brand, or are genuinely interested in helping me. Their motivations don’t even need to be questioned because they’re entirely obvious—they’re selfish.
They’ve connected with me on LinkedIn and added my data to their database without consent along with however-many hundreds of others, purely in the hope that out of several hundred irrelevant messages, they find the one person interested in their offer. Let us not ignore that being added to such a database raises all sorts of questions about security that really need to be answered.
Lazy Marketing = Lazy Business
Businesses that use such practices are telling me how lazy they are. They are broadcasting, loud and clear, that I will regret it if I do business with them. If you cannot even muster the interest to prospect effectively and put some real thought into your pitch, what assurance do you offer that your product is worth anything?
Worst is when a company simply fails to take the hint. Being bombarded with message after message to ‘touch base’, ‘reach out’ or ‘check whether you got [the] last message’ is not only irritating, but it is disrespectful. It assumes that people care to discuss with you something they never asked you for. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t desire to waste thirty minutes or more every day responding to messages I never asked for.
There is nothing wrong with follow-up messages to people or companies that have expressed an interest in your services. There is something very wrong with multiple follow-up messages to those who have expressed no interest at all.
Consider the True Costs
Many companies spring up to bombard everyone with the same scripted message, promising dozens of warm leads for a pittance. Before you patronise these services, ask yourself, what are the real costs? Because there are costs—there are costs to your credibility, there are costs to your brand’s reputation, and there may be costs to all the work you’ve done to build your business online.
If you give somebody access to your LinkedIn or other social media accounts, all it takes is for a few annoyed people to report you as a bot or spammer, and you lose them. All of the effort you’ve put into cultivating your online identity can disappear in an instant because of the actions of a third-party you mistakenly trusted.
What if you keep emailing somebody who leaves scathing reviews on Google, Trustpilot or other similar services? Would you want your brand to be publicly pilloried in such a manner? Probably not. That is, however, the risk you are taking, and for all of their promises of warm leads, the chances are you’re going to be getting some very poor ones at best.
Building Connections Takes Time and Effort
If you want to win business, do so ethically and considerately. Don’t just barge into people’s inboxes with unfounded promises of future benefits, but take the time to build your relationships organically. Offer people something, post informative and relevant content, and take the time to learn what your potential leads might need. Once you’ve done that, you’re in a far better position to offer something of tangible value.
It may take some time, but you stand a better chance of reaping real, long-term benefits; and your email address is much less likely to end up on a spammer blacklist.