Failing the Spam Test

Earlier today I happened across my reading notes from Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing:

“Permission marketing is anticipated, personal, relevant.

Anticipated – people look forward to hearing from you.
Personal – the messages are directly related to the individual.
Relevant – the marketing is about something the prospect is interested in.”

I also received a solicitation today from a capacity-oriented nonprofit organization I happen to admire greatly and which also happens to have a highly-regarded nonprofit marketing expert on its staff. Their email failed on every count: I wasn’t expecting, much less was I looking forward, to receiving their solicitation. While they got my name right – that’s worth something – the letter pitched to me the organization’s expertise in helping nonprofits fundraise. Given that they sent the email to my Nooru Foundation address, they should have at least wondered if a fundraising and donor communications pitch would have any personal or organizational relevance. At a minimum, given the name of our organization, they might have at least gone to the trouble of asking if we raise funds from donors before making the pitch rather than assuming we did. After figuring out that we don’t raise funds from donors, asking if we provide support to our grantees for their own donor fundraising would at least have had some chance of sparking my interest. Instead, their solicitation constituted the very same sort of spam that Godin argued against in 1999 (and that he hasn’t stopped railing against since).

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