Permission-less Marketing

Here’s an example of a sales person who practiced the opposite of ‘Permission Marketing’; someone I immediately nominated for the ‘Networking Slug Hall of Fame’. I think she got in on the first ballot.

At a local trade show several years ago, I was bending over a the candy bowl at a relocation services exhibitor’s booth looking for some good chocolate when the sales rep captured my name tag bar code with her mini scanner. I thanked her for the candy, smiled and moved along.

Two days later, a large envelop with $3.57 in postage arrived, filled with brochures, testimonials, a key chain and a calendar with her picture on it. The next day, she called and asked if I had any questions. I said ‘yes’ and asked why she sent me all that stuff as I didn’t remember asking her for any of it. She said she thought I’d want to know about her company’s services.

When I asked her if knew anything about my company, she said ‘no’. Then, I told her that I ran a home-based consulting business of one with absolutely no need for relocation services … ever. She would have known that if she had just asked me about my company up front or if I wanted any of her information. A simple ‘Does your company ever need the services of a relocation specialist?’ would have saved us both some time and at least $3.57.

I then asked her what she wanted me to do with all the stuff since I had no interest in it. When she suggested I share it with a business colleague or even a client, I couldn’t resist letting my sarcastic Sicilian child within out to play.

With just a hint of a smirk, I said ‘So … you want me to call a colleague or client and say that some sales person I met for 10 seconds sent me a bunch of marketing stuff  that I didn’t ask for, want or need because she never asked me and she thought you might be interested in it yourself. Is that what you’re suggesting I do?’ She probably got the message that I was messing with her and hung up before I finished my rant, but it felt good anyway. Real good.

This classic example of the opposite of permission marketing makes it real clear the importance of asking the right questions and honoring what the person says in response. And it’s a great way to stay out of the ‘Networking Slug HOF’, too.