Beware of the card harvesters

Much of my time is spent networking. My primary duty at CircleClick right now is sales and the way I like to sell is to get out and talk to people. However today I am officially coining a new term, “card harvesters.” These are every day people who you meet at the chamber of commerce or similar event.

You smile at them and they smile back. You talk and they talk back. You give them a business card and they give you one back.

The next day the emails start. No personal note, no nice to meet you or request about your personal interests. You have been HARVESTED. I cannot even count how many people who seemed very nice, but really just took my card and dumped it into their database to begin marketing to. What happened to Seth Godin’s far fetched notion of permission based marketing? Is that so crazy? Just because you technically got your hands on my email address does not mean that you have permission to market to me. Why do companies think that harvesting data from the business cards of their acquaintances is the road to success? It just isn’t. Without giving a person the ability to opt-in, you are assuming an interest level that probably does not exist. This can actually tarnish a company’s image rather than help it. Why do you think your newsletter is soooo great? I will be put under a spell of awesomeness after reading it?

My alternative suggestion to the harvesters out there, keep your sales machines in place, but begin with a personal note! Take two minutes (use a template if you are *that* busy) and just ask:

“Hey I send out a newsletter every month about my services, would you be interested in joining the list?”

WOW! Not only would I be more likely to say yes, I would also be more likely to actually read his/her newsletter. Why? Because they are putting the effort in. You have to give to receive, right? Why do we think the web makes that any different?

P.S. The part about this that I love the least is that for each list you get on there is an unsubscribe process to be removed. The only part I enjoy is when they actually ask “why are you leaving?” and my response is always the same – “I am leaving because I never joined!” Silly companies! Maybe someday they will learn (but probably not). Money mouth