Dream, if you can, a courtyard filled with people. Some are shopping, others are seated and eating, while others are walking by or are just sitting in the grass because there was space. Everyone is minding their own business and are focused on what they are doing.  Out of nowhere, you walk into the middle of the area and from the top of your lungs, you announce:


Totally normal. I mean, who doesn’t love a good deal on a new spatula?

No, that would be weird – really weird.

Most people in the area probably wouldn’t even really notice, and if they did, they’d just ignore you. Many of the people would have no idea of who you are. Those that paid some attention would probably wonder why you’re yelling and who you are even trying to talk to. Surely you weren’t talking to them – they were just sitting there not thinking about buying spatulas.

No one responds to your announcement. Most people are actively looking away from you.

Frustrated and disappointed by the lack of response, you take a deep breath and try again.


“Stop yelling”, shouts someone from the grass.

“Who cares?” Yells another.

Dejected, you start walking around to some of the people that had made eye contact with you when you were making the announcement. They looked at you at least once, so that must mean they need a spatula! You walk up to each of them to tell them about the amazing spatula offer.

You receive a lot of the same responses or lack thereof. You are determined however and keep approaching anyone who made eye contact. You’re so focused on following up with these people that you don’t notice there is a person on the other side of the courtyard who quietly asks.

“Where can I buy one?”

You keep approaching people to tell them about this “once-in-a-lifetime” deal. No one is buying a spatula, but you keep going. In the meantime, that one person that asked the question is starting to follow you without your noticing.

Eventually, you complete your objective of following up with everyone in the courtyard and you walk off into the sunset.

The one person following you is left standing in the courtyard.

Everyone left in the courtyard continues on with what they are doing, never giving you a second thought, having written you off as “just some crazy person shouting in the courtyard”.

No spatulas are sold.


In 2004, at the start of my career in email marketing, tools and technologies were limited, so marketers did their best with what they had.  We were still in the age of ‘database marketing.’ Batch and blast emails were the only realistic approach.  

When it was time to put out a message, you created an email and sent it to “the list.” It worked, but not great, and we were happy with 10% open rates and 2% click through rates. It was expected that up to 90% of your audience wouldn’t even see your message. 

We were just walking into the courtyard and shouting about spatulas. We just didn’t realize it yet.

Fast Forward to 2020

The marketing technology ecosphere has exploded with over 7,000 tools to help marketers reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message. There is no reason to be a crazy person shouting in the courtyard.

As a marketer, when you have a message to share don’t just go for “the list.” You should talk to the people that have indicated they want to talk with you. Have they opted-in and said they want to hear from you, or are they from some list you found (or worse, bought)? 

Of those people that want to talk to you, you should prioritize those that have a category interest that would include what you’re talking about. This may require some extra work.  Do your forms ask the right questions so you can have this information? Does your CRM tell you the type of past purchases or industry they are in?

Lastly, you should prioritize those people that have recently told you these things. Can you tell when they last visited your website and which pages they visited? Does your email platform identify when an email link is clicked? 

Take the time to identify the needs and drivers of your audience. From there, you should analyze your marketing efforts and tools to identify how you can message your audience in real-time, or as close to real-time as possible. Don’t scream about spatulas. Find the true chefs in the park, specifically the ones that need a new spatula, and offer them the information they need to make an informed decision about yours.

The right people, with the right message, at the right time. The tools, technologies and methodologies are up to you. Relationship One can help you get there.

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