Know thy audience before thou startest marketing to them

Recently I received 2 emails within 4 minutes of one another. Both illustrated vividly the marketing truth: Know thy audience.

First — an email forwarded from my wife who is attending a national conference this week. She manages a store, and one of her suppliers will be attending the conference. That supplier sent her an obviously form-letter-style email announcing that they would be at the conference and would love to have the opportunity to meet her.

The only catch? The supplier is actually two blocks from her store. They are in her store regularly, and she stocks a number of their products. It struck me as ironic — and her as impersonal — that a trusted supplier would encourage her to travel to another state to see their new products.

Second — an email from a hotel loyalty program. Last week, I booked 2 different hotel stays for an upcoming trip with this hotel chain. I was logged in to my loyalty account while doing so. And yet, today, an email came saying “It’s been too long since your last visit, and you’ve been missed. To encourage you to stay with us soon, we’d like to offer you a special bonus opportunity.”

While I’m all for the extra bonus opportunity, and the tripled airline miles are welcome, it again illustrated that they weren’t paying attention to their database. If they had, they would have known they didn’t need to encourage me to stay at their hotel chain — I already have booked to do so next week. Twice!

Was there any money lost in either of these emails? No, probably not in the strictest sense (outside of whatever charge their email service provider requires for sending a message). But in lack of confidence in the brand — or at the very least, that they now both look a little ridiculous — there was certainly damage to the brand.

Know your audience. And use the data available to you before you start mass marketing blindly.

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