Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Palm Readings and Popcorn

I just have to share this experience.

So I was walking down the street in the East Village the other day. I was on my way to see a movie with a friend, and I was late. And as I was walking, a guy comes up to me and starts walking alongside me. He says something, very fast, to the effect of:

“I’m a professional palm reader. I give Daoist, Taoist, Confucian palm reads in the ancient Chinese tradition. And I’d really like to give you my spiel today. Let me pitch you, miss!” (He really did say that.) And in this perky, peppy voice…

I’m from Vermont. I never evolved the thick-skinned, New Yorker ability to say “get lost” to people who come up to me and talk to me. I’m just not good at being rude. So I said something like, “um, OK.”

So the guy launches into a two-block talk about his palm reading and the traditions they’re from and the techniques he uses and the steps he takes, walking alongside me as I go to my movie. Then he starts going into the types of “packages” he has…and how much they cost. Really? He wants me to drop everything and get a $20 palm read, right there on the sidewalk? When I’m clearly on my way somewhere?

“…And you’ll be getting me at my best energy today,” he said. “I’m really fresh. Like popcorn! Where are you headed, miss?”

“Meet a friend,” I mumble.

“Oh, really? Is it a girl friend or a guy friend? Is it a date?”

“No, it’s a movie,” I say. Yeah, I’m awkward.

“Well, why not stop for a quick five minute palm read? It’s only five dollars—”

And then I did what I should have done the whole time, but didn’t. I turned to him and said, very clearly, “NO.”

And the guy gave me a disgruntled look and jetted off to go harass his next victim.

This ties into my post on Monday...about email marketers who won't go away unless you take the time to give them a clear "NO." Is this what we've come to? Is the market so saturated now that to get any business, we have to persistently bother people who clearly don't want what we're selling? I don't see how that's the case...personally I do just fine, and I will NEVER let myself become this person, either online or in person. But I've seen this kind of thing a lot lately...and I'm starting to think my "no"'s need to be more pre-emptive.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Email Marketing: What Not to Do

This has happened to me twice in the past few weeks. Someone sends me an email marketing message asking me to buy into something, promote something on my site, something like that. It’s not something I’m interested in. Since I get a lot of these emails, I don’t respond with a “not interested.” I just don’t respond at all.

Then, a few days later, I get another email. “Hey, I didn’t hear back from you about the email I sent earlier. Just wanted to see if you’d be interested in…”

Is this a new trend in email marketing—that if someone doesn’t respond to your solicitation, it’s an invitation to keep emailing them until they do? Generally, if I email message someone with some kind of promotional intent and they don’t respond, I assume they’re not interested. I might email them again in six months, in case things change—but I won’t expect their not being interested to be some kind of basis for a relationship-building exchange.

And it goes the other way, too. If I don’t respond, I’m not interested. And I get a lot of emails like this, so having to respond with a “sorry, not interested” every time I get one would take time out of my day that I don’t need to spend. And if I do respond to you with a “not interested,” it might be taken as a pretext for you to get back in touch and try to convince me, which I’d rather you didn’t do.

Do you take this tactic with email marketing? Do you have any luck with it?