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Lead Nurturing Or Harassment?

by David Brock on December 15th, 2009

I normally don’t write about things like lead nurturing, choosing to leave that to real experts like my friend Ardath Albee, however I need to rant—I’m just tired and pissed off.

It seems the Holiday Season and the New Year bring out the worst behaviors in marketers.  I’m getting daily emails and close to daily snail mails from some of my previously “trusted suppliers.”  Let me be clear, I know I will get a lot of offers that I just don’t won’t–junk mail (real or electronic).  It’s just a part of the “paper the world” philosophy that we too many marketers succumb to.  I’m not talking about these.

I’m upset with people I do business with, who seem to think I’m not doing enough business with them, so they have taken it upon themselves to harass me with daily reminders to buy.  One, a large Internet based flower site, is the worst.  When I established a relationship with them many years ago, I very carefully checked (or unchecked)  all the right boxes.  No, I don’t want your affiliates to contact me.  No, I don’t want you to be contacting me with promotions.  I know when I want to buy, don’t bother me and I will use your services.  I started having difficulty with them about 1 months ago.  Somehow, they seemed to be ignoring my selections and were contacting me.  I sent in unsubscribes—but no change.  Then I called their customer service, “Could you please help me out.  I like your products and service, I just can’t stand the amount of junk you send me.  Please stop it and I’ll keep buying.”  The response was what you would expect, delivered by a very empathetic customer service rep, “Mr. Brock, I’m so very sorry about this.  I’ll take care of it immediately, we value our relationship with you and appreciate your business.”

Well, here I am, 18 months later.  I still get unsolicited emails from them, now it seems like I get at least two a day–seems I’m not doing my job as a customer and buying enough. 

There’s another one, a greeting card manufacturer.  I like sending hand written notes to people.  I found a vendor I really like, great product and service.  I like them, I don’t need to be reminded to buy and have told them so, please don’t send me these reminders.  Well, I get a monthly direct mail piece from them–it’s a bulky piece, I’d guess its cost is over $5 per piece, I get at least 12 a year—none of which are opened, all of which don’t even make it from the mail box into my office (there’s a great garbage can in the lobby).  Yes, I also get the monthly personal email reminder from their VP of sales.  And, yes, like the flower people, I have tried to save them money by saying stop this and I’ll keep buying, but I guess they don’t want my business.

There are times I don’t want to be nurtured.  I thought nurturing was a way of building a thoughtful relationship with the customer, not one to constantly harass the customer.   I thought careful nurturing helped demonstrate respect for the customer, not demonstrate how little you care by ignoring their request.

Well, these problems are easy to solve.  First, junk mail filters in Outlook work really well.  Yes, I periodically look in my junk mail folder to make sure nothing has been mis-categorized, yes, I see they are continuing to harass me, but it takes none of my time.  Second, that garbage can in the lobby gets good use–and I don’t have to clutter my office any more. 

But the best solution is this,  I don’t buy from them anymore!  They obviously don’t care about me, so I’ll do business with someone who does.  I don’t know if my business is meaningful to them.  I send lots of flowers–to family, friends, clients.  I like sending flowers.  This year, I spent over $1000 on flowers.  I used to spend it with this one company, now I’ve found a few other companies that are carefully nurturing a relationship with me and demonstrating they care.  Likewise with the greeting card company, I spend about $700 a year on greeting cards.  I had a conversation with my printer, he’s now got all my card business and is doing a great job.  The old company, yes they keep wasting money on me, but I won’t buy.

Am I off base, or do I really not understand nurturing?

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  1. Mark Hulderman permalink

    I’m with you Dave.
    My favorite rant on this subject takes me back to the late ’80s. A mail order company that my now former wife patronized, constantly sent catalogs and offers. Once we divorced, I continued to get the mailings even though my address had changed. I contacted the company and asked that they not send any further mailings. However, just as you experienced, nothing changed. This continued through two subsequent moves and a new marriage. Imagine the surprise my new spouse received when opening the “Happy Birthday” mailing from the company, expressing best wishes to my ex.
    Now that’s nurturing.

    • Wow!!! Now that’s a way to build a relationship! Bet they aren’t on your new wife’s or your list of people to order from 😉 Thanks for the comment. Regards, Dave

      I was thinking, was it addressed: “Dear (Your Former Wife) or Current Occupant?”

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