Like you, I play many different roles in life.  And I have different names depending on the role I am playing.

You know me as Evelyn.  My kids call me Mom.  New acquaintances initially address me as Ms. Starr.  And when my kids and husband are searching for something around the house, they refer to me as “finder of things.”

Those are names I enjoy.

But apparently I have a whole bunch of aliases. 

Local real estate agents, restaurants and retailers have addressed mail to me as Resident At, Current Resident or Customer At.  Credit card companies pitch their services to me as Cardmember.

And TD Ameritrade, one of the companies where I invest my money, sends email to me as Valued Client.

Boy, you guys really know how to make a gal feel special.

The local companies are just blanketing the area with their marketing pieces.  Using a universal moniker for all recipients is the lazy way out.  It is not hard to find me in the white pages.

Moreover, the one-name-fits-all approach is ineffective.  A generic name on an email or mailing signals to me that it is part of a hit-or-miss marketing campaign and not meant specifically for me. My time is valuable.  I recycle those mailings and delete those emails fast.

Even more shameful though is the TD Ameritrade email.  Take a look:

Dear Valued Client:

Your 30-Nov-2013 statement for your account ending in XXXX is now available online.

To view your statement (along with previous statements), please log on to your account.

If you have any questions, please contact your Advisor.


John V. Tovar
Managing Director, Brokerage Services
TD Ameritrade Institutional
This is an automated email, and replies will not be delivered.  If you need to contact TD Ameritrade Institutional, please call 800-431-3500, or log in to your account and click the “Contact Us” link to send an email.

Hey, John?  I have to say I am not feeling valued.  I have no idea who you are.  You’ve made it clear that any reply I’d be tempted to send would not reach you.

You have my name, address, social security number, my advisor’s name and my hard-earned money in some of your investment funds, and the only thing you do to address me is include the last four digits of my account number?

Investing is a personal business.  In fact, all business comes down to a relationship between two people at some point.  If you value your customers and would like your prospects to become customers, get personal!

Getting personal begins with remembering and using my name.

Fidelity does it.  And if Fidelity can do it, you can too.  I have confidence when I get Fidelity’s email that it is meant for me.  With my name on it, I’m more likely to open it.

You might feel that if you have a large distribution list, it is too much trouble and too costly to personalize emails and mailings.  Technological advances have made it easier and more economical than ever though.

Addressing your audience by name helps you build your relationship with them.  And as I said earlier, business is built on relationships.  Your prospects need to know, like and trust you before they will buy from you.

Using a person’s name in your marketing communications:

  • Gets their attention.  In written communications, you have just seconds to gain the reader’s attention.  Using their name may buy you a few extra seconds to make a favorable impression and convince your prospect to read further.
  • Elicits the emotional benefit of recognition from them.  As Dale Carnegie said, “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest sound in any language.”
  • Makes them feel welcome.  The hospitality industry has known this for years, which is why hotel receptionists begin addressing you by name as soon as they locate your reservation and why restaurateurs spend time getting to know their regulars.

American Express seized this idea years ago to build their business with the wildly successful ‘Do You Know Me?’ campaign.  The Oglivy & Mather agency created the campaign and deliberately featured people who were well known by name but not often recognized by face, like Mel Blanc, Francine Neff, Jim Davis, and Stephen King.

In 1974, when American Express started the campaign, they had six million card holders.  Ten years and 61 commercials later, they had 18 million card holders.

Tap the simple habit of addressing your customers and prospects by name to build your business.  Not only will your business grow, but you might enjoy your customer interactions more when they address you by name too!

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