Send The Right Message at the Right Time

By Beacon Staff

Several years ago, Seth Godin wrote a book called “Permission Marketing”, which among other things discussed that people don’t want to buy from people who make annoying phone calls during dinner (duh), and how to fix the problem for your business.

It isn’t because they don’t want to buy your item. They just don’t want to buy it from someone they don’t know who calls during dinner.

Someone they don’t know hasn’t got “permission” to sell to them. They haven’t established a relationship of any kind – and certainly not one that means it’s ok to call during dinner.

People get downright violent – electronically, at least – when people they don’t know send them an email asking them to buy something. Usually it’s a poorly written email, so it wouldn’t sell anything to most people in the first place.

Of course, because email costs so little to send, when you send out 312 gazillion emails, the .0001% that buy make it worthwhile to the slimy character who sends them. That is, until their internet provider cuts them off. More on that shortly.

It isn’t as bad with U.S. Mail because you don’t have to pay to receive it, but so-called junk email still gets some people pretty steamed up.

The message itself determines a lot of what happens when it gets delivered.

If you send email, you can be a total putz and not think about your message at all. Send it to everyone with a heartbeat. Who cares if you try to sell a comb to a bald guy? Maybe he collects them.

Direct mail has a way of sorting out the lazy. They go broke rather quickly if they mail poorly.

Another media is text messages to cell phones.

Imagine if you got even 10% as many spam text messages as you do spam emails. Trouble is, for the most part, you have two choices: Get all text messages or get none. Some cell carriers have filtering tools, but they are mostly all or none choices, ie: “filter all text messages that arrive by email” or “allow all text messages that arrive by email”. Not much of a choice, if you’re the parent of a young adult, or if your business automation uses emailed text messages to alert you to various situations.

But today’s column isn’t about cell carriers, it’s about not making the mistakes that lazy marketers make, and they make them in every media there is – even via cell phone text messages.

Not many people have my cell number. I only get text messages only from my kids, my wife, kids in the Scout troop, and from my kids’ friends.

Despite that, I recently received a poorly targeted pitch via text message. It says “Four Phones sharing UNLIMITED minutes only $xxx.xx/month. Quality, Service, Value. Cellular ONE in Polson. 885-xxxx.”

Normally, Editor Kellyn would advise that I not use the business name here, however, I wanted to be sure that the people involved find out that I’m speaking to them when I say that this aspect of their marketing program is misguided.

Here’s why: First of all, if you emailed this text message to every other 406-249-xxxx number in the Valley, you probably got a lot of nasty phone calls and emails. That probably wasted your time. Wasting time is not what marketing is about.

Second, I don’t live in Polson. Why in the world would everyone in the North Valley want a cell number that’s local to Polson?

The really unfortunate part was using a Bresnan email account to send your message. See, Bresnan’s terms of service for internet service include a clause that says you can’t spam people. So when Bresnan gets all of the complaints about this message, they’ll probably terminate your account. And of course, since you don’t use a email account like you should, any legitimate email to your Bresnan account will just disappear when they cancel your account for being a spammer.

That’s probably not the desired effect.

The lesson for the rest of you: Fine tune your message. Send it to the right people. Send it at the right time. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call during dinner or text message someone who doesn’t know you from Adam (or Eve).

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at

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