As I was walking through the airport recently I came across a wall of old pay phone booth stalls, empty and a reminder of a different time, a time when communication was less frequent and more special. Now of course my kids laugh at me when I talk about pay phones, brick phones, car phones, it just cracks them up to hear of these archaic times. How on earth did we survive, to them it is on par with hunting our own food. But I fondly remember a simpler time.
I grew up in the family business and dad was a workaholic salesman/business owner who always wanted to be available for his clients. Back in a time of no cell phones, he would have to pull over to Dunkin Donuts or a hotel lobby to use their pay phones to call into the office to get his messages. He then would spend the next 30-45 minutes on the pay phone returning all of his calls. All the while I would watch patiently as he gave his clients every ounce of his attention. It was pretty cool to see just how passionate he was about his clients and their needs. Then it was back in the car to the next appointment until we stopped for another office check in a few hours later.
When my dad called his clients back, he got through and he had their full attention because the call was special. Yes, he had something to offer and there was value for both parties, but the randomness and infrequency of the conversation made it special. Let’s face it, receiving a random note from Grandma four times a year is special, receiving a note from Grandma three times a week for 52 weeks a year - that is not so appealing, sorry Grandma.
Fast forward to today and we live in a time where communication is so frequent that it becomes watered down, sometimes meaningless and sometimes even annoying. We end up glued to our email, cell phone texts, social media posts and other instantaneous means of communication and expect instant answers, immediate gratification. It is the McDonalds drive through versus the 10 course chefs tasting menu at a French restaurant.
The same applies in our marketing efforts. We can get caught in a trap of more is good, more frequent, more quantity, more content, more offers – when sometimes less is more.
We can make communication special. We can slow down and utilize the tools that are available to us such as data analytics for targeted, relationship oriented communication, customized communication with unique content and offers, personal notes written and mailed in an envelope with a stamp, high impact dimensional mail and customized resource portals all working in tandem with measured email and paid search.
A balanced marketing approach can make communication special and in turn boost response rates. We should be sending more relevant communication less frequently. Slow it down and make it special.