trash_mailIf you’re sending mass emails to prospects you don’t know, don’t be surprised when you get deleted.

Every day more than 20 unsolicited emails come into my Inbox. Most ask me to buy lists of Salesforce, Oracle, or Sage users. Then there’s the real junk—offers for burial insurance, introductions to Russian beauties, discounts on Viagra, and other nonsense. Companies send mass marketing messages without any idea who the recipients are or what they want. It’s not only stupid; it’s a waste of sales time.

This is the age of personalization, not generalization. That’s one of the reasons Amazon—with its personalized recommendations and shopping experience—has become the largest online retailer in the world. It’s why social media adoption has skyrocketed. And if you’re sending mass emails to your prospects, the decision to delete you is easier than ever.

No one wants to be treated like a number or blasted with generalized marketing messages. We’re individuals, and we expect the companies we do business with to treat us that way.

Content Isn’t King—The Customer Is

Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton sum up the current state of branding in their brilliant post, “Why Your Brand Should Speak Human.” They encourage us to put away our bullhorns and connect with our customers and prospects as individuals, just as we would if we met them in person. Here’s a snippet:

Maybe this is a familiar scenario. You’ve launched your content marketing strategy but it’s not working—few fans, even fewer followers, some light traffic to your blog, and a few lonely clicks from various calls-to-action. When you listen for the response, you hear nothing but crickets. Why? Perhaps you forgot to leave your bullhorn at the door.

The world over, clients and customers today are demanding more heart. In response, a lot of brands have leapt on the “human” bandwagon. Yet some companies think simply publishing content and proclaiming to customers “you come first” is enough to humanize the brand. Launching an owned-media site or supporting a visually rich Pinterest channel does not make your brand instantly accessible and trustworthy. In too many cases, companies are just wallpapering social-media channels with old brand messages hidden behind the language of “you.” (Read the rest of the article.)

Get Personal or Give Up

If you want to connect with people and have any chance of doing business with them, you need to know them.

Your prospects don’t want to hear your generic sales pitch. They want to hear what you can do for them, and they want specifics. A mass email is a dead giveaway that you haven’t put any effort or thought into finding out the first thing about them. So why should they care what you have to say?

Bottom line: If you want to sell to me, look me up. Learn about me and my business. Find out who in your referral network knows me and could provide an introduction. Then you can start a real business conversation with me—in the language and with the message that resonates for my unique business. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your breath and my time.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.