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August 22, 2012

GUEST POST: The "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Approach to Follow-Up

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by Jimmy Marks

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[Ron Daly is on vacation, so Jimmy is here to share his thoughts on the aggressive, obsessive, invasive method of post-sale satisfaction some people think of as "follow-up".]

I don't normally go in for memes. Some of them are funny, but usually, they get all the "juice" squeezed out of them a few days after they first appear. I don't think I need one more "Call Me Maybe" parody, ever. Matter of fact, I don't think I want to hear "Call Me Maybe" anymore, full stop. 

But "Overly Attached Girlfriend" was really funny. This creepy, bug-eyed caricature of an obsessed stalker (A young lady named Laina Walker who did this as a joke) took over the Internet for a few weeks and gave birth to a few "splinter-memes" and follow-ups. 

We've all met people like this...people who can't let go. They're the people who obsess over their relationships and go a tad bit crazy. It's not just "girlfriends" that do this - boyfriends can be just as guilty, as can best friends or even casual acquaintances. 

Or, in some cases, marketers.

Too often, marketers will create "follow-up" campaigns with no end-date in sight. You go to get your oil changed and the service center calls the next day to make sure everything went well. Thoughtful, right? But then, they send an email. Then, they send a message from the manager. Then, they send you pictures of the inside of your kitchen. What?! How'd they get in there?

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But it is annoying to be unrelentingly thanked by a company and begged for more business. Even worse, getting an email that says "Where have you been? We've missed you." It's just plain creepy. Why should my dry-cleaner care what I'm doing? 

I'm not the only one that thinks so. Take this article from Target Marketing titled "Famous Last Words: 'Stop Touching Me!'":

I don't know when various follow-ups came into the picture—the tracking number and the shipping advice from UPS. But I don't mind these "touches" from a supplier. When I order special dog food from PetFoodDirect.com for my 15-year-old Auggie or hulled sunflower seeds for my winter bird feeder from ebirdseed.com, I am comforted to know that my little four-legged and feathered friends will definitely be seen to in a timely manner.

These purveyors want me to know that they really, really care, and I appreciate that...

But...

What you do not want is for your customers and prospects to be so fed up with your intrusions that they...tell their friends what a pain in the *** you are and put you into their spam filters.

So, how do you know when you've "cared enough"? I think this article hits it right on the head - only contact people when you have something interesting or pertinent to say. "Just saying hi" is something your great aunt does when she calls you on the phone. Don't disappear from the consumer's field of vision, but as in all things, know your audience and have something relevant and useful to offer. Make every contact with a purpose in mind and always, always, always, make it meaningful for the member. 

Onboarding campaigns have helped many of DigitalMailer's clients. It's a simple, smart way to get people involved with the credit union, a "crash course" in the basics of the new member's relationship. But an onboarding campaign doesn't go on for more than a few emails in the span of a few weeks. After that, contacts should be occasional, and with purpose. 

Now, you're going to deal with a few people that don't want any email at all and a few that want an email every day. There are ways to meet both of those needs. If you do your job correctly, you'll only be sending people things that are relevant, useful, and welcome. 

Don't be the "Overly Attached Marketer" - let the member breathe. Use those points of contact wisely and don't overdo it. 

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