Like most people, I sometimes buy from Amazon, and every time I do they bombard me with recommendations for other items I might want. This can actually make sense. If I’ve just bought a Dylan CD, for instance, it’s reasonable to think I might want other Dylan CDs. Even if (as is likely) I already have all their recommendations, there’s something almost reassuring about it.
Some while ago, though, I bought a watch from Amazon. Now, the one time you can be almost certain that someone won’t want to buy a watch is when they’ve just bought one. But guess what — for a couple of months afterwards, I was bombarded with suggestions for other watches I might want.
Amazon, like many other large companies, tend to use what I call blunt-force marketing. It’s like approaching the prospect by smashing a sledgehammer down and hoping the fragments will contain something that’s of use. And it clearly works for a company like Amazon, even if it can sometimes be aggravating. After all, who’s going to give up that level of convenience just because they’re a little annoyed? Not me, certainly.
Unfortunately, we’re not all in such a comfortable position. Most SMEs that attempted Amazon’s approach would find it blowing up in their face.
If I’d just completed website content for a client, I wouldn’t get in touch to ask them if they wanted another website — with the possible exception if I were subcontracting for a web designer, of course. Similarly (and with the same exception) if I were writing a regular blog for someone, there’d be no point in asking them if they want to start another blog.
That doesn’t mean I’m not going to follow up jobs, of course. After writing the website content, for instance, I might quite well point out the obvious advantages of having a blog attached — and, if the objection were “I don’t have time for that”, so much the better.
I’m not suggesting it’s always wrong to throw our message out on the wind. That’s what we all do, for instance, whenever we tweet or post on Facebook. Unless we’re an indispensable business, though, it’s vital to think about who we’re talking to and what they need from us. And what they don’t. Because, if we annoy our current or prospective clients, they’ll just turn to the next listing on Google.
Image by Janet McKnight, Creative Commons