Question: You’ve just attended a networking event and now hold in your hand a bunch of business cards. Is it okay for you to simply add them to your mailing list or subscribe them to your newsletter?
Answer: Only with express PERMISSION from your contact.
This is one of my all time worst, “want-to-throw-a-tantrum-whenever-it-happens” personal pet peeves. (and I have red hair, so just imagine . . . )
Not only is this NOT permitted according to SPAM and direct marketing laws, it’s just bad form altogether. It’s like shoving junk mail into your neighbor’s mailbox simply because they waved hello one morning.
There is a concept called “permission-based marketing” — that people have a choice who they receive marketing messages from by “opting in” via a form on a website, a written consent form/checkbox or verbal agreement.
This first became a hot topic when consumers were able to stop telemarketers from calling them by entering their information into the “Do Not Call List.” There also happens to be such a thing for direct mail (aka “junk mail”) as well.
You should give people the choice when it comes to mailing lists — whether it’s for print or electronic mailings.
I don’t know about you, but I really dislike telemarketing calls, junk mail and SPAM — and my dislike tends to be aimed towards the companies who commit these sins. So, imagine if you are the culprit sending this schlock to people who did NOT ask to receive it . . . do you think they’ll really like you for it?
Now, before you try to defend yourself by explaining how super terrific your newsletter or company mailings are, let’s just clarify that the issue is not with the content. It’s with the delivery.
Not all telemarketers are calling to tell you about some scam for making money or how you can buy more life insurance for your cat. Some of them actually have interesting products and/or services that they could share with you. However, because they have called you out of the blue (most likely at dinner time), mispronounced your name and have the sounds of other “callers” in the background, you are not too happy to listen to them.
Thus, it is important to get permission from your new contact BEFORE you add them to any “list.”
This is a really simple, easy thing to do. When you’ve met someone, exchanged cards and had a conversation, then say something like, “I have a monthly newsletter that I use to stay in touch with my contacts that shares tips and resources on XYZ (insert your area of expertise here) — how about I send you my latest issue for you to check out. If you ever want to unsubscribe, there’s a link for that.”
If they say, “sure”,then you have their permission. Pretty simple, huh?
Of course, you can also do this via email by providing them with a link to where they can subscribe to the newsletter themselves.
Either way, give your new contact a choice to become part of your mailing list (as well as the ability to “opt out” of your mailing list) and they’ll be a much happier recipient of the messages you send them.
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