A little civil disobedience: hacking the information harvest

Vendor: Hi there! We have an awesome new white paper that we want to share with the community! Here’s the link

Me: Hey, cool! <clicks link>

Vendor: Oh yeah, before you can get this amazingly captivating little tidbit you need to provide us with all this information so our sales reps can follow-up with you after you read it.

Me: Oh boy, here we go again.

I’m bordering on “What Grinds my Gears” territory, but this practice really does spark my ire.

combineOne of the things I love about my PLN and extended PLN is the sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and insights. In fact, when asked why I use Twitter and other social media tools, this free knowledge pool ranks high among the stated reasons.

Lots of vendors are out there, too, and there are lots of them that get the concept of contributing to the collective wisdom. To me, this speaks well of the organization and these efforts likely yield a good return, or at least an increase in cachet and credibility.

A legacy from working in the eHealth environment and an increased awareness of information privacy are probably the contributing factors in my civil disobedience campaign.  Sure, I want to read what you’re offering, oh mighty vendor, but why do you need to know who I am, how many employees are in my organization, where I’m located, and all that stuff before you let me download your generous contribution? More importantly, why don’t I get a say in what you’re doing with that information in this little transaction?

Look, I get that organizations exist to do business and make money. I really do. But, there’s a couple of things you might not have considered in your circa-2002 online business plan.

  1. People are getting pickier about their personal information (yes, there’s still a long way to go, but I digress). They will provide what is necessary, but not always just because you ask for it at the start of your exchange.
  2. What if people just want your offering as a FYI? What if they aren’t the target audience for your core services? Oh, yes, what if they aren’t the decision-maker and aren’t too keen on redirecting your follow-up call?
  3. What happens if your offering is pretty weak?I bet your sales folks are just going to love the reactions when they start calling.

To that end, I have some suggestions.  I won’t even make you give me information in exchange:

  1. Offer an opt-out for follow-ups.  If you want to just use the information form for metrics purposes, I’m OK with that. Just don’t have a sales rep waste their time chasing down something that isn’t really a lead.  Besides, you leave control of the information in the hands of the individual. It’s the nice thing, and the right thing, to do.
  2. You *can* make money by giving stuff away. Don’t give everything away, obviously, but share the enticing things that will generate interest.
  3. Be a regular contributor to the community.  Your name will become more familiar, and more trusted. BUT….
  4. Make the offering really, really good.  Even if it’s small, it should be good. Make the offering so damn good that people will be beating down your door, or turning you into a hashtag.

As for me, I’m hacking the process.  I’m not going to give you my real name, or my company name.  Sure, you could probably google the old email address I use for these purposes and figure out who I am, but I’m guessing your sales folks don’t have time for that.  You’re going to find lots of Lastname=X, Firstname=X, Phone=”000-555-1212″ entries in your database and I still have your info. What’s really sad is that your offering might not meet the hype you’re trying to generate.

Don’t worry, if it’s really good, and I think we should spend money on it, don’t call us. We’ll call you.

 

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About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on September 12, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Totaly agree with you Mark ! That’s why I use http://www.10minutemail.com. Enjoy 😉

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