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RoseSaturday morning. The phone rings.

“Hello, Mr. Penn? This is Better Crates and Cartons Magazine calling. About five years ago, you signed up for more information about building a sunroom on your house. Are you still interested?”

Here’s something similar my colleagues at Return Path received:

You are receiving this email because sometime during the past 20+ years you have registered with PACE, or one of our affiliated companies, to receive free information and offers concerning…”

Both of these outbound marketing efforts are obviously trying to resurrect very, very old databases in an attempt to drum up business. But like the obviously single person at the bar, they reek of desperation. In business, however, desperation sends a clear warning signal: don’t do business with this company because they’re obviously struggling to make it. They’re not making their numbers and so anything you buy from them is not likely to have a warranty that will survive the company’s apparently imminent demise.

Be careful about what signals your marketing sends out. There’s a fine balance between rebuilding a relationship long lost and appearing obviously desperate. Like the world of dating, if you’re coming back after a long time away, you’re not only starting over in terms of relationship strength, but also working to overcome past history and a lack of trust. Just as you don’t walk back into someone’s life expecting an immediate warm welcome, your marketing should not march back into someone’s life expecting a returning customer.

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