There you are minding your own business, trying to serve your customers well and reap the benefits of positive word-of-mouth advertising when suddenly an anonymous reviewer posts a very negative (and very anonymous) review of your business on Yelp or another online forum. You don’t know whether this is a competitor seeking to get an unfair advantage, someone with a personal beef against you, or just someone with too much time on his hands trolling cyberspace, but you know it is not a legitimate review.
Collecting tons of detailed information about potential customers in order to target your marketing to them seems like a good idea at the time . . . . And, it well may be. But, OfficeMax has a cautionary tale for all of us about the risks of cutting the human element out of marketing.
As reported by numerous news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post, OfficeMax used information gleaned from a third-party provider of customer mailing lists to address an envelope to a father who had tragically lost his child with the designation “daughter killed in car crash” on the line of the address block following the father’s name. Can you imagine receiving such a letter after the heartache of losing a child?