You’re not marketing too much, you’re marketing wrong!

“One of the problems we have is that we’re marketing too much. We’re sending too many emails to our members.” So said the executive director I was working with on a new database implementation.

“Well, no, you’re not marketing too much,” I replied, “you’re marketing wrong. And the reason you’re marketing wrong is because you’re sending everything to everyone, and it has very little relevance to those receiving it.”

And then the room went silent.

Here’s the thing: If I told you to send an email to your members every day, you’d probably think I was crazy. But if I were to send you an email every day that had something of value to you, and you absolutely loved the value, you’d be happy to receive that email every day.

The same is true for your members and customers. If you send them information that they perceive as relevant and valuable to them, you can’t possibly be marketing too much.

The key is relevance and value, as the recipient perceives it. This means you have to use your data to help you determine what is most likely to be relevant and valuable to whoever you’re marketing to.

Here are just a few ways you should do that:

  • Allow recipients to tell you what their interests are. Develop a profile that the customer can manage online that asks them what their areas of interest are. (But keep the list relatively short by making the categories broad; no one wants to choose from a list of 50 areas of interest!)
  • Provide an opt-in/opt-out “subscription center” for all of your email communications. Just like the areas of interest, keep this list fairly short, e.g., events promotions, publication promotions, legislative affairs, etc.
  • Use buying behavior to create “implied interests.” For example, if an individual attended one of your programs on lean manufacturing, then they have an implied interest in this area, and future marketing and communications about this topic are likely to be relevant to her.

So why don’t more associations do this? One reason is that this kind of marketing requires much better management of the data, and much more thinking and effort on the part of the marketers. In other words, it’s a lot easier to just send everything to everyone than it is to match segments with messages.

So yes, this will likely be more difficult to do than the marketing you have been doing. But if done right, chances are good you can market to the right segment of your members and customers as frequently as you are now (or maybe even more) if you’re providing the right value and relevance.

Your data can help you do that.

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