When did marketers become the perfume spritzers at the mall?

Think about it…

Someone clicks on a product (someone dares make eye contact while entering the department store)…

They choose not to buy (“Would you like to try Scent Explosion?” “No thanks, not today.”)…

They open up Facebook, and there is a sponsored post about the store (“Okay, just to remind you, we are on sale today. Want to smell?” “No thanks,” they say as they start to walk faster)…

They open their email to find the subject line “We miss you, come back and see <insert product they looked at>” (“Here, I sprayed it on this paper strip…you can smell it later.” “But I don’t want it,” they reply as the paper is shoved into their hand)…

They get a text message stating “Inventory is running low. If you want that item, the time to act is now…here is 10 percent off just for your trouble” (Puff puff, spray spray… “SCENT EXPLOSION’s 10 percent discount expires TONIGHT!... as the customer runs in terror with perfume in their eyes, gagging on the scent).

WE ARE THE PERFUME SPRITZERS…or those sales guys in the mobile phone kiosk that interpret you having a mobile phone as a signal they should shout after you, “You know, you are probably paying way too much for your phone,” as a legitimate sales technique.

I couldn’t help but come to this horrible realization as I was talking with Harte Hanks’ CMO, Frank Grillo, in a recent “Get to Know a CMO” webcast I hosted. He was sharing some thoughts on marketing’s loss of humanity or, more to the point, why he believes marketing has lost sight of how to engage with humans and build relationships like humans.

That is a really hard pill to swallow, especially for those of us who came up in the heady days of relationship marketing, one-to-one marketing and all of the other buzz words that have been used to describe marketing initiatives that were intended to replicate the comfortable, real and easy banter that an individual could once have with a real, live customer that walked through the door.

Don’t believe that this is what has come of some of us? Just ask a group of your friends who have nothing to do with marketing. I made this mistake last week, and I and got everything from complaints about retargeting to tales about being “creeped out” by overly personalized emails and anger…yes anger…about post-purchase NPS surveys: ”Why in the hell should I take more time out of my life to tell you what you did or didn’t do? You should already know that.”

This is, perhaps, why my conversation with Frank resonated. We have the tools to listen, but far too often, we are listening for affirmations or confirmations of what we hope to be true. We spend so little time listening for the things we hope to be true that we have lost our audience. Frank’s example asked why we should continue emailing a customer who hasn’t opened an email in months. He makes a point.

If you missed my conversation with Frank, I’d encourage you to check it out on demand. We are going to have more opportunities for one-on-one conversations with CMOs in the future, so if there is someone you’d like to hear from, let me know, and we will try to line them up!

Until next month, keep your fingers off of the perfume pump and your ears on your data!


Your comment will appear on this page upon moderator's approval