Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Head Scratching Marketing - Emails That Confuse

From time to time I get email marketing campaigns that just make me scratch my head and say, "Are you kidding?".  Over the last month or so I have received a couple of these that I felt might be worthy of sharing.

To me marketing is to get a person's attention so that you can build a "relationship" with them and ultimately get them to buy something from you.  Getting their attention could mean providing them some value without asking for anything in return.  It is about being remembered.  So that when they have need for your product or service, you are the first person/company they think of.  That is called building a brand.

I subscribe to a newsletter of DIY wellness, cleaning, and recipe type blogs.  This woman is pretty well known in this space and actually has a cute, catchy moniker as well.  She has a fairly large following.  I won't share that moniker here because I really wish her no ill will.  I just found her most recent tactics very confusing.  She has a Facebook page with over 63000 likes.  She clearly has a brand.

10/26 I received this email:

"Hey you :)

It's Monday here in (insert city) and you crossed my mind as I was getting up this AM. (this is
 's email right?)

If you need a quick confidence boost today to take on the week, you should give (video hyperlink here) a quick look (basically perfect for you).


Keep it REAL,"

A couple of things to point you.

1.  I don't know this person, so I couldn't have crossed her mind
2.  See the highlighted text where she was clearly supposed to "mail merge" my name in there

Then on 10/29 I got this email:

"Hey you :)

Your name popped into my head as I was taking a walk this morning. (this is 
Lori's email right?)

If you are truly serious about keeping yourself healthy this season, you should give (link to a blog post here) a quick look (basically perfect for you).

  1. Remember, I have never met this person.
  2. She got the "mail merge" right this time.  But it is clearly a mail merge - the text is even in a different color.
11/10 email:

"Do I KNOW you? I mean you read my blog and this newsletter...but do we KNOW each other? Here is a story of one dedicated reader who I truly have gotten to know. Her story of transformation is right (insert link to blog page) 

I know you need (insert link to recipe)  to go with this story.


  1. Confusion - I know you, you crossed my mind while I was walking but do I really know you?
  2. The two sections of this email had nothing to do with each other.  A success story and a recipe.  Creates more confusion.  Each element by itself provided some value but put together was confusing.

Then today 11/17 I received the following:

"I don't think we've met (have we?) If you are like - 'I totally know you' then can you do me a favor?

Can you either 
(insert link to survey monkey) to tell me about your situation (and introduce yourself!)

...or click the little link below to unsubscribe from my list if you found this by mistake...

Go ahead and pick one now. If you chose to do neither, I'll go ahead and unsubscribe you manually.

(I know you're busy and I don't want to send you occasional emails if you're not interested!)


(Insert Writers Name Here)

PS - Text me if we did actually meet and I'm just having some brain fog (Insert Writers Phone # Here)"

So is anyone else confused?  Let's face it marketing is emotional.  These four emails took me on an emotional roller coaster.  Here are thought processes that went through my head.

  1. I chuckled at the first email.  It was very clear that she was trying to relate to her readers and make a personal connection.  For me, that failed.  It was very easy to see through.
  2. When I received the second email only a few days later, I thought actually was a little annoyed.    I wondered who she thought she was fooling. Again, she was trying to make a personal connection.   But I liked her content so I thought I would stay subscribed to her emails.
  3. There was some value in the third email.  But honestly, I only went back and read this after I got email number 4.
  4. Then I received today's email.  Seriously?  What the heck.  I am so confused by what she is trying to do.  She will unsubscribe me if I don't fill out her form?  

Here are a few points:

  1. She does have products and things she is selling through her posts.  Why would she unsubscribe someone that has been a faithful reader for a long time?
  2. She clearly has no control of her database of prospects (more on that later in a post about the value and importance of data in CRM).
  3. The tone of her email is meant to be lighthearted and helpful, but there is a subtle threat.  Fill out my form or I will unsubscribe you.
  4. The language used here, like totally offends my old fashioned ears.  If her target market is middle school and high school girls, go for it.  Otherwise, that sort of thing can turn a reader off quickly.
I am not writing this to throw this woman under the bus.  She is clearly successful in many areas.  Writing email campaigns is tricky and poorly written campaigns can easily turn people away from you and your brand.  Here are a couple tips.
  1. Always add value!  Share something of value in every email, a photo, an article, a study.  Something - please!
  2. Always have a catchy subject line.  Her second email was "What I am Doing Tomorrow"  You have all heard of the "who cares" test.  If you ask who cares about your subject line and the answer is nobody.  Your email most likely won't be read.
  3. Always have a call to action.  I would not suggest your call to action be either subscribe or unsubscribe. Post a link to your website, or contact information at a very minimum.
  4. Have one main point for each email.  Keep focused on the main point and don't try to add value by going off in some other direction.
  5. Use language that speaks to your target market.  Of course you first have to understand your target market but that is another subject!  
  6. Be personal.  Personalize the email, but PLEASE be sure the personalization works before you send it to 63k readers.
  7. Be warm, be engaging, care.  You really do want your readers to like you.  Remember people buy from people they like.  Read more about that here.
There are many great articles out there about email marketing with many more tips and tricks.  Read them before you send out emails that chase away your customers and/or prospects.

So what do you think I did with her last email?

Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years.  She is passionate about service and providing value to her prospects and clients.  She is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David.  They help people look great at events and trade shows.  If you would like to learn more email her at lori@totaldisplays.com

Monday, November 2, 2015

Your Business Doesn't Matter or Shutting Down a Trade Show Booth Early

Retail sales rep and booth staff at trade shows and events have a lot in common.  But wait, you say, we don't sell anything while we are in our booth.  Really?  You don't sell anything?  Why are you at trade shows if you are not reaching out to customers and/or prospects?

One of the big no no's in the trade show world is to shut down your booth or to pack it up early.  I know, I know.  You have been on your feet for days, you are tired, you are hung over from yesterday (we'll address that in another post) you have a flight to catch.  I have heard it all.  The reality is, your biggest prospect may be coming through late.  You just don't know do you?  Can you afford to take the risk?

Yesterday, I was in a smaller town in MN that has some high-end shopping.  There is a cute little store that I have always loved.  Some beads and charms, cute knit items, jewelry, cards and more.  I have always enjoyed this store.  As we walked in, it appeared that they were getting ready to close. I asked, "Oh are we too late?".  The clerk replied, "Oh no, we don't close for 15 minutes".  

I proceeded to browse through the store.  Each corner where I went to look at products I had to avoid the clerk that was shutting off all the lights and unplugging things.  I am not exaggerating when I say, every time I was looking at something, I had to move out of her way so she could turn things off.  It was Halloween.  I am sure she had a party to go to.  Clearly she had better things to do than to let me and my family look at things and/or purchase something.  Every time I have been in that store over the years, I have purchased something.  Not this time.  I left before the store even officially closed, but clearly she was done serving clients.

In addition to our business, Total Displays, I have a small home based business that I do some exhibiting at small local shows.  So many people pack up and shut down early.  More than once, I have had someone come by the booth at the very end of the show that ended up buying products.

Here is the reality. When you are in your booth or your retail store, you are a sales person.  It doesn't matter if you are paid commission or not.  It doesn't matter if that is what your title says.  You represent the company, you represent the brand.  You need to be professional, always be ready to service a client or a potential client.  If you can't do these things, you should not be in a booth or in the store.  Period.  Honestly, you probably shouldn't have a job with that company.  If your livelihood depended on you making that connection, or making that sale, maybe you would behave differently?

So how does a company avoid having the wrong people in a store or in a booth.  Training!  Train your staff.  Make sure they know what the expectations are for them while they are staffing a booth.  Even if you have trained before, do it again.  Bad habits creep in very quickly.   There are many companies that offer simple booth training classes and workshops.  Total Displays does.

As a company, you spend a lot of money on trade shows.  If you are in retail, you spend a lot of money on a storefront.  What kind of staff do you have working to be sure you get ROI and make money?

Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 25 years (yes she is that old).  Lori's background includes training customers on a national basis on CRM, sales, and marketing best practices.  With Total Displays she has developed a number of training courses related to events and CRM usage.  Visit us at www.totaldisplays.com or email her at lori@totaldisplays.com