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Dear “valued customer”? The peril of knowing who they are and not doing anything about it.


You have in your hands the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

It’s amusing, in a frustrating sort of way. We voraciously guard our privacy by subscribing to VPNs, refusing to answer our smartphones unless the Caller ID tells us who it is, and by boycotting companies who we discover have shared our data.

And yet, a recent Adlucent survey reveals that over 70% of respondents expressed the desire to have online advertising experience tailored to their interests. Careful before you say, “You can’t have it both ways.” Customers do grant us permission to utilize what we know about them to personalize the experience they have when they interact with us online. Fail to utilize this permission at your own risk.

Insert scary industry statistics here

Ever notice you can make a spit-second decision based on intuition – but it can take you days, weeks, or even months to make a decision based on information? There’s a biological reason for this, simply and beautifully explained by Simon Sinek in his TEDx Talk, which has now been watched over 36 million times.

For those of you who want to cut to the chase, scrub to the 12-minute mark in the video. Simon will make it all clear.

You don’t have to join the legions who now groove to Simon’s siren song, sung in the key of “Why” to get the takeaway. We swim in an industry that requires validation, so you probably won’t be convinced to float away from loading up on statistics simply because it’s suggested here. But, listen to your gut – and your customers – for just a minute. Both are saying you don’t need a bunch of industry stats telling you how important it is to take advantage of permission marketing.

Dale and Seth agree

In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Mr. Carnegie died in 1955, long before the age of the Internet – or what we would even call “modern marketing and advertising.” Some tenets never change.

So, if you still need a bit of coaxing, let’s turn to someone a bit more in tune with the times – Seth Godin. “Permission marketing,” Godin writes in his blog, “is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention. Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious.”

And holy smokes! He made that statement nearly a decade ago.

A virtual slap in the face?

There are no stats to back this up – just the challenge to lay the question before your intuition. How do you think a customer feels when they provide you with the information you need to offer them a customized experience – and then you address them as “valued customer”?

It’s technology’s fault, you say? You just don’t have enough resources to elevate customer communications to the next level, where you greet them by their name and capitalize on the additional information you know about them to offer an experience that says, “Thank you for allowing me to know you”?

How much are your customers worth? Less than the cost of sending each one a non-automated message you actually had to type out yourself?

Your competitors are hoping you’ll never consider this approach. They’re waiting for your customers to finally get fed up with your abuse. They know something that Seth Godin points out further along in his blog post about permission marketing. “Attention,” he says, “becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.”

You have in your hands the sweetest and most important sound in any language. It comes with information you can use – and you have permission to use it – to remind a customer why they should buy from you again and again.

How will you use it?