Please, Don’t Beg

Published on March 21, 2013 by Eric Weld

It may seem obvious, and most business proprietors probably know it’s a bad idea to ask your customers explicitly to give you their business.

Of course, in all our marketing efforts, we are implicitly asking customers to do business with us. But ideally we are inspiring our customers to engage with us, and moving them to buy what we are selling as an equal exchange of goods or services for payment.

And yet, I received an email just last week from a large online retailer with the subject line: “Give Us Another Chance.”

It’s unfortunately not an uncommon device, to harangue customers into responding, or to attempt to play upon their sense of devotion (i.e. “You’ve been doing business with us successfully for three years, so you owe us your loyalty”).

But it’s a mistake, and will most likely drive customers in the opposite direction.

When I received the email titled “Give Us Another Chance,” I had an immediate negative reaction. Why should I? When I offer goods or services, it is incumbent on me to give prospects a reason to do business with me, not any sense of devotion. Why would any customer feel an obligation to give a business anything, other than fair payment for a value delivered?

Out of curiosity, I opened and read the email. “We haven’t seen you in a while,” it said. “We'd love for you to visit again.”

The message went on to offer a 20% coupon for purchase on a single item. Now THAT’s an incentive to do business. Had that been in the subject line I likely would have responded favorably.

Nonetheless, I still felt put off by that opening line, “Give us another chance,” and didn’t click through.

There are thousands of approaches to marketing and getting prospects to respond, and I don’t begrudge any business owner trying different tacks. Some will work better than others.

But save yourself the waste and frustration of “begging for business.” It won’t work, it will harm your brand, and it will most likely cost you customers.

Instead, give them a reason to engage with you. Give them real value, like a discount on goods or services. That will increase your CTR (click-through rate) at a much higher percentage.