Is Holding Back Good for Your Business?

Wolf Jingle

Infomercials do it. Long sales letters do it. 89-day e-courses do it. The slow come-on is not a new marketing technique. There are some times when it works, and some times when it makes for minimum customer experience. Tipping points can go both ways.

What are the limits of withholding?

I’m not old enough to have driven past them as a kid, but many of us have heard of these legendary teaser billboards (or seen modern knock-offs): a series of five or six little boards spaced out, planted on the side of the road, each with a part of a witty jingle ending in

Burma Shave

Burma Shave images by R. Franke


They gave out their message a little at a time, hoping it would catch your eye and entice you to buy their product. With hundreds of variations you could drive past, thinking of Burma Shave first when you needed to lather up for a shave became almost inevitable.

Yesterday we discussed the drip-drip-drip of a series of emails that have been trying to seduce me for weeks. I had asked to be part of the mailing list (which is rare for me). The first videos were promising. A whole lot of promising. When I realized the sender was never going to get to the point, I stopped listening.

Statistics say it takes at least seven “touches” for your business to be remembered by a potential customer.

For bricks-and-mortar companies this should be done with a combination of touchpoints: Signage, word-of-mouth mentions, traditional advertising, personal interactions, your website, your blog and of course, your store or office itself.

That’s seven ways to reach out and touch a prospect. Even if you hit each one once, they’re going to remember you.

So what’s wrong with these emails I’ve been getting? He’s just hitting me 7 times, right?

Wrong. I’m not having any problems remembering him. Here’s why this deprivation or teasing is bad, for me:

1. I opted in. I signed up. I already want to know what you are trying to sell me.

Continuing to tell me how very valuable what you are going to sell me is, but not telling me what you’ll sell or even when, bores and irritates me.

If I walk into a restaurant and ask for a table, will they say yes, we’ll get to that, but first let me tell you how great it will be?

I hope not.

Now if I’m at home and I haven’t expressed an interest, beginning my Experience by touching me with a variety of messages is absolutely necessary.

2. It makes me suspect I can’t afford it.

She saw him standing in the section marked
‘If U have 2 ask, U can’t afford it’ lingerie”
—Prince, The Glamorous Life

Why are you waiting so long and trying so darn hard? Is it going to cost as much as a vacation to Naples or a two-carat diamond, either of which would be more fun than what you’re trying to sell me?

Giving me too much time to think about the awesome, unbelievable thing, allows me to plant my own seeds of doubt.

3. Methinks thou dost protest too much. This is the most important point: the longer you go on and on, the more you sound like a used-car salesman, and the less I believe you!

Crystal at Big Bright Bulb recently wrote a fabulous article discussing how much is too much. Like 89-lesson e-courses.

The short answer: One minute past when I say the word YES is too much.

When I tell my attorney to draw up the contract for her retainer, she does not say, let me pitch you some more. (Trust me. She doesn’t.) What she says is, “Sign here.” And so should you.

Tease too much, you lose your captive audience.

So that’s what’s going on in the customer’s Perception. Opt-in marketing uses different rules. When you’re designing a campaign to build your business, keep focused on the customer’s point of view.

Later this week we’ll get down and talk about the really dirty bits: how The Big Tease campaign can hurt your business beyond just driving away customers who are already sold.

How do you respond when a company won’t come to the point?

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


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