Saturday, June 26, 2010

Greedy Marketing

There is a scene in the Lord of the Rings trilogy that describes the various flaws the different races of Middle Earth exhibit. Of the Dwarves, it is said that they delved too greedily and too deep. The Dwarves were miners, you see. They were good miners. They found riches galore, but it was never enough. Eventually, the Dwarves dug so deeply that they released horrible demons.

I've been thinking about this description a lot as I follow the tale of the BP oil spill. We dug too greedily and too deep. We didn't exactly release a Balgrog, but it's mighty close.

As a marketer, it is possible to dig too greedily and too deep, especially on the heels of a major project like a white paper or a webinar. An incident that happened to me last week illustrates this point.

Last week I received an e-mail from a source I trust indicating that there was a new white paper available. The white paper had been authored by a guest company, but since it came recommended by the source I knew, and since the title fascinated me anyway, I decided to take a look and I ended up downloading the document. After reading the document, I showed it to my boss and I also tweeted about it. Happy ending, right?

Wrong.

Every day since I downloaded this white paper, I have received an e-mail from the author of the document. The emails are bluntly "sell" oriented. They want me to sign up for a training that will expand upon the white paper I downloaded.

As a consumer, these emails seem well over the top to me. Getting an "open" AND a click on an e-blast is a win to begin with. For someone to download a paper and give you their personal info is even better.

As a marketer, I still feel that an email per day is overkill. By a long shot. Had the marketer handled the situation differently, I might well be blogging about their effectiveness right now instead of the point where they made me want to claw my computer's eyes out.

What to do

Okay, I know what you are thinking. As a marketer, I should have known that submitting my e-mail address was an opt-in. Well, I get that. But you have to be really REALLY careful when offering information-rich content like white papers. A lot of people who are inspired to download white papers are in a learning mode or a research mode, not a buying mode. How shocked would you be if a salesman jumped out of a book you're reading? Same kind of feel.

The conversion from content to conversion is a rough one, admittedly, but here's an idea that might have prevented me from wanting to put a hex on this person's email account.

1. Acknowledge that you appreciate the steps it took for someone to download your white paper. Whether they clicked from an eblast or from the web, they not only had to click, they had to fill out a form, then hit download, then wait for the massive document to load. That's valuable time. Send out an email thanking the person for spending that time. Make yourself available via email and Social Media to answer any questions.

2. Give people 3 days to read the white paper in peace. Assume that they spent their free time downloading the thing. Assume they are hanging on your every word. Don't drive them crazy.

3. After 3 days, send out a brief survey. IF you are trying to sell something, mention it briefly in your introduction. Ask if the person has passed on the article to a co-worker or boss. Ask if they have shared it via Social Media. Answers to these questions will establish a relationship (potentially) and inform you as to whether you have a budding "brand evangelizer" on your hand.

People responding is the gold

Never forget that someone clicking to and downloading your content is a major gift. It's the gift of time. It's the gift of interest. If your content is good, that person will look for more from you. They'll promote you. They'll quote you in blog posts. They'll look for you on Twitter. And eventually, if you decide to publish a book or host a paid webinar, that person will likely not only pay themselves but they'll also recommend that other people do so.

This person's content was extremely good, but I am not likely to promote them by name because I don't want other people to get bombarded with sell emails. If I really wanted to be ruthless, I could name the person and say, "Hey, don't download this person's stuff." That would be an epic problem.

Don't delve too greedily. Don't delve too deep. If you are just in it for the money, content is probably not your game. If you are in it to help educate people, you probably won't rake in the cash right away. Build your brand. Build your credibility. Build your network of supporters. Be patient. Don't release the demons.

Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/QR9iudjz0

3 comments:

Pastor Lisa said...

I equate this to hard sales tactics and I loathe pushy sales people. It says you're only interested in what's in my wallet and meeting sales quotas. This is not the way to conduct business. Especially since the new business model is about building relationship with your customers.

I learned recently that relationship building is the only way to conduct business in certain countries.

We're getting there but some have a long way to go in embracing this novel idea.

Suzanne Vara said...

I have a "special" email created for whitepapers, ebooks,etc. I too got tired of the relentless emails that I would receive so I created this account so that they could go there and I could read them when I popped over and check that account - generally when I download another ebook or whitepaper.

I understand from the marketing side but everyday with a new offer, today only I am only doing this once, etc is overkill. I suppose that it is a very effective sales tool as someone on the fence would jump to the buying side but for me, I like a softer approach. The more you push, the more I pull away.

Real Life Mad Man said...

Great thought, Lisa!

@Suzanne, that's a pretty good idea too. I'll have to remember to do that in the future for sure! Argh!