Yesterday I got an unexpected email from my ex-girlfriends’ godfather’s son. It isn’t important how we met, he’s extremely charismatic and we got on well. I don’t hear from him often but I’ll definitely get in touch if I go to Spain, where he’s been living since I met him.
The email announced and described a new business that he’s obviously very excited about called The Barcelona Taste. At the end he asked:
“Tell your friends, e-mail your acquaintances, and pass on the website however you know best. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated! And, if you are thinking of visiting Barcelona, we hope you’ll consider taking a tour as well! We would love to see you all and to treat you to some of Barcelona’s great hidden culinary treasures.”
Does this story sound familiar? Whenever anyone I know has a cause to promote, they email everyone in their network using one group email. I’m extremely guilty of it too but have found that there is a much more effective approach. He could have sent two different emails.
His immediate family and friends would be interested in promoting his business generally. It’s a talking point for them and they most likely share his enthusiasm. For the rest of us, we’re more interested in how the content of his email directly affects us. Not because we are selfish, but because we receive so much information each day. There are too many things that we can promote, too much information that we can pass on. Outside of our own immediate networks we tend to get overwhelmed and do nothing.
Tell me the problem. Tell me how you can help me solve it. Ask me to refer it to one person either now or when I see fit. Offer it free to people in your network who are influential, at least until you’re too busy to give things away for free. Make them feel special.
I hope this email finds you well, wherever you are. I’m not sure if you’ve heard on the grapevine but I’ve started a new business in Barcelona. When first-time travelers come to Spain, they miss out on the real taste experience. It’s too hard to find a good mix of authentic restaurants unless you’ve lived here a while.
I’ve started an intimate walking tour for small groups. During the course of the tour we take visitors to 4-5 small family-owned shops and eating establishments that are off-the-beaten-path. The tours last 2-3 hours with pre-selected food and drink provided at every stop along the way. While the tour participants are filling their bellies, we share anecdotes and information about the food being enjoyed. We also provide a map of the places we’ve visited so participants can return to the establishments at their leisure.
If you know anyone coming to Barcelona, send them my way and we’ll look after their taste buds and give them something to remember. If you ever want to come to Spain, I’d love to give you the tour.
This story is analogous to traditional email database marketing. In short, the idea is to collect as many emails as possible, broadcast to them regularly and hope for uptake from a small percentage of the overall audience. How many Constant Contact emails do you ignore every week? As soon as we realize that the content of the first few newsletters is not directly relevant to us, we stop opening them. As marketers, its quicker and easier to send one message to many people rather than learning what your audience is really about. Once we get tired of deleting unopened emails, we’ll open them once more to find the unsubscribe link at the bottom.
If you want to get results through online marketing, stop thinking about broadcasting to a large number. I can’t count how many tourism marketing newsletters my email address has been added to but I know that I am not a golfer and don’t travel with my family. I am not going to start golfing or start a family before I unsubscribe either because my inbox is already full. As an industry, we’re gauging success by measuring the wrong things. Marketing no longer needs to be about repeatedly shouting to a big audience, it needs to be relevant.
If you or any of your friends are going to Spain and want an authentic exposure to Spanish cuisine, tell them to check out The Barcelona Taste. Joey’s has an compelling personality and would be the ideal guide. He’s been living in Spain long enough to know the secret spots too. His concept and business are far superior to the email promoting it.