Dear RAM Racing,
Your premier event, the Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k, is next week. I did this race last year (and blogged about it, too), but I have no intentions of doing so again this year.
Several friends and I shared our dissatisfaction with you about last year’s race. From the disappointing “country’s best goodie bag” to the dangerously crowded conditions, most of us vowed we would never run another RAM event.
And yet, like a rejected, overly optimistic suitor, you keep harassing us. At first it was kind of cute – the occasional email, urging us to register early to save our spot for 2011. After a couple of those, I unsubscribed.
Strangely, though, the emails kept coming, more and more urgently. “Really, we’ve changed!” you insisted, pointing out the new course and less crowded streets. But my mind was moved up, and I had moved on.
I unsubscribed again, and again for good measure. @HeathBar6 and I tweeted to you that we had indeed unsubscribed, yet were still receiving emails, violating not just rules, but manners.
The closer we get to race day, the more desperate the communications become. I’ve gotten still more emails – why bother unsubscribing? – a postcard and, last week, a text message, urging me to hurry and register.
Each time, we tweeted our dissatisfaction with you, though I’m now vaguely intrigued to see how far it goes. And I’m not alone. A quick Twitter search yields plenty of others wondering when it will stop.
Then, on Wednesday, the icing on the cake arrived in my inbox: a “personal” email from Sara Hutchinson, your Director of Participant Experience, asking for feedback about why I hadn’t registered yet. She even kindly offered to hold a spot for me! Once again, this email has a decoy unsubscribe link that I don’t actually believe.
It sounds like RAM has fallen into the buzzword trap, hearing about the importance of the “customer experience” without actually understanding it. You talk the talk about wanting feedback and “listening” to your customers, but your actions demonstrate that really, you have a marketing plan and, by gum, you’re sticking to it. That’s insulting to customers and potential customers. Don’t pretend you’re listening to feedback and “taking it seriously” if you’re not. Don’t waste our time – or yours, for that matter.
While it’s great that you have indeed changed the course to make it less dangerous, it’s not enough. As a marketer, I won’t do business with a company who insults my intelligence or doesn’t follow the most basic rule of marketing: don’t piss off your customers. In the increasingly social world, let your customers come to you rather than ramming your message down their throats. You have a great Twitter and Facebook strategy – you can do without the text messages. Push vs pull, you know.
So thanks for holding that spot, but you can give it to someone else. I plan on doing the Hot Cider Hustle 8 Miler next weekend: smaller, more scenic, cheaper and closer to home.
Good luck with your race.