I was once taught how to form a relationship with those I would meet in the course of my then role. My role was to ensure their cooperation so as to elicit information, assistance or perhaps something that might cost them time and effort. It wasn’t in a sales oriented situation although the instructor was ex-sales, or at least as ex as they can get. The methods he taught work in all similar situations, even, perhaps surprisingly, email marketing.
He emphasised seven initial steps:
- discover their name
- use their name
- introduce yourself
- make them feel as if they are important to you
- discover their needs
- ensure they think you will do your best for them
The promise was that it would, in most cases, make them want to help. It was simple personalisation.
It works. Not only that, the skills are transferable to any circumstance when you are dealing with people you don’t know personally. If you get them on your side the benefits are tremendous.
As we’ve said many times in the past, the obvious way of personalisation in email marketing is to segment email marketing lists. There are others.
Using their favoured form of address is rather basic. Finding out which they prefer is simple enough, the most obvious being to ask them, and then next, working out from the preferences of others of a similar demographic. Another is to name a contact in your company, e.g. Michael Thompson. If they use his forename, then do the same for them.
Use the form of address in emails frequently, as you might do in a conversation. “I tell you what, Gillian, the film is a must-see.” I was told it encourages a bond between the two of you and my initial scepticism was soon overcome. You can see them relax.
Making a person believe they are important to you is a little more difficult. Not sending them marketing emails they are uninterested in is a good start but we need to go a good bit further.
Mention something in their history with you. A recent purchase can be an excellent choice if you can use it to justify sending them a marketing email for a related product. “Hi, Claire. We hope you are satisfied with your recent purchase of the Acme self-righting inkjet printer. We thought you might like to know that we have an offer on cartridges at the moment that will save you 35%.”
Encourage them to be personal with you. If your business model allows, have a person they can refer to in a specific department. Photographs can be useful here, although it is essential not to use a generic one. It is all too obvious that if the head of the unit is a middle-aged chap called Alan, then use his name in emails and on the website and not a copywrited image of a busty blonde called Bambi.
We were told that to ensure that the stranger you are dealing with thinks you are treating them as a person and not merely a source of information. Talk to them as if we are meeting them in a pub or at a party.
Until we speak again,