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Friday, March 28, 2008

Banning marketing intrusions

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist has introduced the website to help Canadians stop unwanted telemarketing calls. Geist's site allows users to simply register and say, effectively, don't bother me -- to a large list of organizations, many of whom are exempt from existing do-not-call legislation (but not privacy regulations). Geist's website simplifies the process for those of us who do not want to be bothered by intrusions from businesses, survey companies, charities, and political organizations. Instead of having to look up each organization individually and register with them our wish not to be bothered, we simply click on the website, and voila, if the organizations call us after our registration, they will be in trouble.

Ok, I've repeated on several occasions that intrusive marketing often works effectively. Canvassing, especially, can really attract profitable business, quickly. But marketers need to realize that if you enter people's space uninvited to push your wares on us, you risk a backlash.

There is a better way -- and no, it doesn't involve wasting money on conventional advertising, leads services and the like. It involves respecting your potential clients, understanding what matters to them, and them setting yourself out as the company/organization that really understands and will help them solve their problems.

So, say, you are a roofing contractor. You could send a canvassing squad around to neighbourhoods and look for houses with crappy roofs, and knock on the doors, and you might get good results. (And, frankly, I wouldn't find that kind of canvassing that offensive, if your guys really could see the problem and knew the service is required.)

But what about another approach; perhaps leaving some informative literature at the door outlining effective options (without ringing the bell) ; perhaps contributing to a community organization helping low-income people with roofing problems, or perhaps creating some kind of helpful resource/website with all the answers about roofing that anyone could ever want, free, and easily accessible. Maybe you could strike a relationship with relevant retail businesses or organizations where people ask questions; maybe you could write a regular column for the weekly newspaper on roofing issues; maybe you could lead a campaign within your community to curb canvassing and telemarketing -- and sponsor it!

The point here is there are ways to connect and show respect for people and while sometimes in-your-face marketing is effective, and valid, it only is that when there is thought and respect for the person to whom you are marketing. Too much door-to-door and phone stuff is mindless crap, insensitive, and disrespectful of the privacy of the person to whom you are marketing. Think before you call or knock on the door -- or beware of the retaliation from do-not-call systems such as Michael Geist's.

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