Entirely Self-Serving

There is a very nice ethnic restaurant near me. I’ve eaten there several times. I know a couple of the waitresses by name. They recognize me when I come in. The food is terrific, the menu inventive, the ambiance warm and genuine. In short, it’s a terrific place.

Except for one thing…

They do almost everything right but their email marketing sucks!

Actually, let me clarify.


The emails they send out are gorgeous. I have been tempted to print and frame some of them and put them up on my wall. The one above isn’t even one of their better ones.

The problem lies with the message. I have been getting emails from them for almost three years now. I get perhaps 8-10 a year. The irregular frequency isn’t such a big concern (though they would benefit from making the schedule more regular.)

Fundamentally, the problem is that I have never even once received an email from them that wasn’t completely self-serving. The only emails they send me are ones asking me to make a reservation or to buy something.

Let’s use an analogy to put this into perspective. Let’s say that you have a friend who comes to visit your home every month or so but every single time — without exception — the sole purpose of his visit is to borrow something or to ask a favor.  He doesn’t sit down for coffee or stay to chit-chat. He doesn’t care how green your lawn looks or that your daughter brought home straight As last week. He only wants that favor from you and then he’ll be gone. Until the next time he needs a favor.

Chances are, you’d start avoiding him. Or even end the friendship.

I understand that this restaurant is a business. I understand that they need to make sales and turn a profit. But email marketing is essentially free. (Actually they probably pay someone to take their beautiful photos and write their beautiful emails but not everything they send has to be so elaborately done. It’s possible to inexpensively send beautiful emails.)

It’s not inexpensive to eat there and yet I’m a repeat customer. I’m exactly the kind of person they should be going out of their way to make feel welcome.

And yet all I feel is used.

(Note that I am deliberately not revealing the name of this restaurant. The name isn’t important. Many other businesses do the very same thing with their marketing programs.)


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