Keep a Knockin' But You Can't Come In

By Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media 


That’s how many email messages hit my personal email box between the day before Thanksgiving and about mid-day Sunday.

So I stopped counting before all the Cyber-Monday hoopla kicked in.

876 messages, many full of subject lines in ALL CAPS and full of 😍🔥😀🔥. Some senders were apparently so worried that I’d miss their note, they sent me up to 5 messages in one day.

That count doesn't even include my junk email box, which I'm too frightened to open at this point. 

And while my inbox was filling up, I was eating turkey, hanging out with my family, watching football, generally enjoying myself and living my life. I was most definitely not shopping.

I’m certain that many of the retailers who sent me those message were truly excited about the potential of talking to me. After all, I’m sure their data analysis pointed to me as the perfect prospect. In many cases, I have been and continue to be a customer of their brands. 

But any rudimentary analysis would show that I’m not a holiday shopper. A campaign with a strategy that feels like “let’s keep pounding on her door during the holiday weekend” is not highly targeted. Nor highly respectful. And, at least in my case, unlikely to drive marketing ROI.

Most of these marketers also skipped over the key step of showing which of their goods I might want, and why I would want them. They went right to FIRE SAcoLE PRICES.  In most cases, these efforts were not advertising at all.  They were direct marketing in its worst, most invasive form.

Good, respectful, strategic direct marketing certainly has a place in the marketing mix for most brands. Direct marketing can help close the loop with in-market shoppers, but DM efforts work much more powerfully and predictably when they sit on a strong base of advertising.

As marketers, we often conflate the fact that we CAN do something with the idea that we SHOULD do something.  Because technology allows us to deliver frequent, sometimes incessant messages to consumers via email or text does not mean that we should do that.  As an industry, we need to think about appropriate frequency, compelling messages, and how contextual relevance can create a sense of inspiration and desire in our targeted consumers.

Rather than continuing to pound on my door, find a way to come in with my friends and create some value for me. Party crashers get what they deserve: delete, delete, delete.  Invited guests get access to me and my home, at the moment when I’m ready, and get my attention and my loyalty.