Intimacy is difficult to fake. The tools that automate intimacy don’t produce the same outcome. Mostly, they detract from intimacy.
- One-to-One but really One-to-Many Emails: The first clue that you are faking intimacy via email is that your first name is in a different font. The second clue is the five hyperlinks carefully strewn throughout the email. The third clue is a lack of any real personalization. The fourth clue is that there is no real insight or ideas delivered, with the links there only to notify a human being that a link was clicked. Most automated marketing, despite the personalization, looks and feels like spam.
- Answering the Phone with the Person’s Name: If your name is Bob Jones, you might be convinced that the person calling your phone knows who you are, even though it’s unlikely. But when your name is Anthony Iannarino, no one pronounces your name right on the first try (or the second, or sometimes the third). What is supposed to feel like intimacy falls short. If you can’t pronounce someone’s name, you have no intimacy.
- Customer Surveys: Don’t get me wrong here, customer surveys are great. If you want to know how and what to improve, surveys are a useful way to discover what needs fixing. Even though the note accompanying the survey is a personal plea for your help in providing feedback, and even though they use your name, there is no person on the other end of that request. When the person who takes care of my car calls to ask how things are, then it gets intimate.
- Checking the Boxes: The birthday card from one of the stores you visit. The holiday gift from some other retailer. Dates like these are important to the people with whom you have intimate relationships, but not for people you don’t know, have never met, and who don’t even know who you are. Some marketing person responding to an executive’s request that they develop more loyalty thought it was a good idea to try to develop a relationship with you, and this was their less than half-hearted attempt.
Your personal email might rise to the level of creating intimacy, but not nearly so much as a face-to-face meeting. Calling someone or recognizing their voice on the phone is a minimum requirement for intimacy. If the person calling you isn’t a contact in your phone, it’s unlikely you have an intimate relationship, commercial or otherwise.
A call or a note to follow up on an experience generates much more intimacy than a survey, even if it provided less information. In fact, if you were more personal, that single call would be worth many times as many surveys.
If you want intimacy, you are going to have to do some things that simply don’t lend themselves to scale.