Talk to Me Like I’m a Person

Last week I talked about ways to build a depth of permission that actually lasts.

Here’s my first thought on that.

One of the ways you can increase the lifespan of the permission you receive from your customers or potential customers is to choose your tone of voice and writing style carefully.

Implicit in the concept of permission marketing is that one is being treated as an individual.

After all, only an individual can give permission.

So here’s the thing.

If an online company asks for my permission and receives it, how come they then start communicating with me as if I were a small crumb in a mass market?

Sure, they add in my name at the beginning of the email. And yes, if they’ve invested the big bucks, they’ll customize email content based on my profile and purchasing history.

But this can’t disguise the fact that they’re talking to me as if I were the recipient of a piece of advertising.

In the old days, communication between companies and their markets was executed through the traditional media: TV commercials, radio spots, magazine ads, billboards.

A language and style through which companies spoke to their markets developed.

Ad speak. Marketing speak. Manipulative. Persuasive. Often drenched in BS and insincerity.

And one size fitted all. We all saw the same thirty-second ads for the same products, time and time again.

These “ad-speak” conventions worked pretty well for everyone concerned.

They made life easy for the marketers and the ad agencies. Easy for the media. And easy for the public as well. One could recognize an ad from a mile away.

Trouble is, when I now receive a permission-based email in my inbox, I’m still being spoken to in ad-speak.

Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. Special offer ends soon.

Some mistake here, surely.

You ask for my permission as an individual. Then you speak to me as if I were still that crumb among millions.

What’s happening here? I guess technology and software “solutions” are moving forward a little faster than our thoughts on how best to apply them.

So here’s a hint on how best to attract attention in my inbox. And on how to maintain that fragile permission I casually sent your way.

Talk to me like I’m a real person. (I am.)

Talk to me like you’re a real person. (You are.)

And communicate in a way that is consistent with a conversion between two people.

Not every email should be the same length.

The time interval between emails shouldn’t be exactly the same.

The purpose of each email should not be the same.

The tone and pace of each email shouldn’t be the same.

Do you see what I mean here? If there is too much consistency, people will recognize your communications as ad-speak, and permission granted will soon become permission expired.

But if you behave as a human, with a lot less consistency, you’ll be respected for being a real person.

And the level of permission granted may actually grow.

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