Business is Doing Smart Things

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Marketing isn't really all that complicated. If you have a decent product, you simply have to let people know what you are selling and some of them will buy right? Obviously you can be more efficient by focusing your efforts on people who are likely to buy your product. It wouldn't make too much sense to show financial services ads during Saturday morning cartoons.(Assuming that Saturday morning cartoons still exist.) Omaha Steaks probably wouldn't want to mail their flyers out to religiously fanatic vegetarians. If you have two lists, one of people who are deaf and one of people who love to listen to music, which do you think would create more sales for high end headphones?

This is common sense, yet I am amazed at how many companies simply don't get it. I have cable internet through Suddenlink. They routinely send me flyers for VOIP and security services. However, they don't offer either service anywhere in my town. Still, several times each year I get a flyer encouraging me to call in and order these non-existent services. This isn't too bad. I'm not interested in either service. The only way I know they aren't offered is because I asked one of their techs about it when we were discussing their infrastructure for dealing with power outages. In this case, it is just a waste of money. They are sending me cards for a service they don't offer so I couldn't buy them even if I wanted.

However, some companies go well beyond this and do marketing that makes potential customer's hate them. For example:

I would like to get DSL because it is twice as fast as I can get on a cable modem, but I've been told repeatedly that it isn't available at my house and that AT&T isn't really interested in building out their infrastructure to support DSL in this area. Today, when I got a postcard from AT&T trying to get me to sign up for business DSL, I was very interested. After looking at the card I was even more interested. The card wasn't one of those deliver-to-everyone-in-the-city addresses. It had my actual address and company name. It also had my telephone number included on it. That seemed pretty promising. AT&T went through enough effort to match my telephone number with my address and send me a card announcing DSL service. Surely this must mean they have DSL service to offer me.

I called and was immediately put on hold for 15 minutes before talking to anyone. A recording playing over and over kept saying how much they appreciated my call. Evidently AT&T really likes my call and doesn't want to let such a good thing end because when I finally got ahold of someone they said they needed to put me on hold again (for another 30 minutes!). Finally a different person picked up. I told her that I was interested in the DSL service. She asked for my address and went to check her database. She came back on the line and told me that service was not available. They have a database telling them who can get DSL and yet they insist on sending cards out to people who they know cannot get the service and then make them wait on the phone for 45 minutes only to be told it isn't available!

This is counter productive marketing. Not only is it a waste of AT&T's resources, but it is a huge waste of my time. Stupid marketing can take a potential customer and turn them into someone who absolutely loathes your business.

Business is about doing smart things. If you run a business, use the data you have to do smart things. If your marketing department/person doesn't have enough skills to only send targeted advertisements to addresses where your service is actually available, your company has some serious problem in the hiring process.

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