Don’t spam your customers


I’m not really what you’d call a patron of the arts, though my mailbox would suggest otherwise. I belong to a grand total of two museums and non-profit organizations, but I seem to be on the mailing list of at least a dozen more. The funny thing is, aside from the stuff that everyone gets (like those annoying packs of address labels), the mailings started to multiply right after I joined the two organizations that I paid for. It’s like I was entered into some sort of horrible spam ring, without any disclosure upfront or opportunity to opt-out later.

I have no problem with getting a few newsletters, event notices, and other correspondence each month from the places I actually belong to. It’s the flood of truly unsolicited stuff that bothers me. Apparently, paying for even a basic membership at one museum puts you into a hot demographic that all the others want to reach. But did the original entity ask for my permission, or give me a chance to decline these offers? Nope. And this lowers my opinion of them, along with all their partner organizations, quite considerably. So much, in fact, that I would recommend that any new members provide a bogus address to avoid this hassle.

Long story short, I finally contacted each organization that I belong to, and asked them to exclude me from any mailings that don’t come directly from them. Time will tell if this makes a difference or not. But for regular businesses and non-profits alike, the cost of this behavior should be pretty obvious. If you sell your customer info to anyone who asks for it, don’t be surprised if your own membership and communication efforts become less effective. Eventually, people will figure out what’s going on, and the organization that breached their trust will be the one to suffer.