The business mirror

Big business seems to be coming to a close, and they know it. Why else would they so relentlessly, so aggressively, so ridiculously come after prospects today? No company can be that lacking in good ol’ smarts, can they?

Here’s an example: ING recently added me to their email marketing list. I have never contacted that bank, yet they have begun marketing to me with some of the least appealing email marketing pieces I’ve ever seen. The bottom actually says, “Replies to this email end up in a black hole. If you need to reach us, email us at” Translation: ‘We at ING don’t care about you. Go away. Oh, but give us your money. And our sales department is rude.’

There is no more surefire way to damage a brand than to insult consumers. ING (or any company who messages in this way) will have an incredibly hard time gaining the privilege of having my business. There is no excuse for treating prospective customers with disrespect. With the startlingly bad reputation most banks now have, every one of them needs to show a new level of respect to their existing and prospective customers. When companies market in the way that ING is doing, the message they send is that people are commodity. People naturally respond, in kind, by regarding banks as commodity. (That’s called lost opportunity. If you are going to spend the time, energy and money to market your business, do it well.)

Consumers act as mirrors. If they don’t know you, they usually respond with the same level of respect you showed them. If you are rude to them, they are rude to you. If you are kind to them, they are kind to you. If you are respectful, and show that you value them in a meaningful way, they are much more likely to offer you that all-valuable positive response, and just maybe bestow you with the honor of earning their trust and giving you their business.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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