It's early December and I just received an email from Marriott Rewards with a subject line “Seasons greetings from J. W. Marriott”. It is a wonderful example of customer-focused communication. The salutation is personalized with my name and it is signed by Bill Marriott in his handwriting. It might seem to be a familiar “end-of-the-year” thank you missive but it excels at coming across as genuine and warm. Here is a link to the email. Marriott email.
Note the use of such phrases as (I have added the underlining) “thank you for your continued loyalty”, “It is an honor to host you”, and “I look forward to welcoming you at any of our nearly 3,700 hotels in 72 countries.” In fact the communication uses you or your a dozen times.
Too often we are tempted to focus on our achievements and our needs – to use year-end thank-you letters and emails as thinly veiled self-promotion opportunities. The Marriott letter does mention that next year will be the company’s 85th anniversary but they deflect that potential self congratulatory trap by stating that the true benefit of this milestone is that it “uniquely positions Marriott with the insights and experience to serve you, our treasured guest, and make your stay memorable”.
Three short paragraphs and I feel appreciated. But this email is not just a feel good thank-you message. It also provides the opportunity for the recipient to take a number of beneficial actions. There is a link to customer email preferences where the recipient can update personal information, limit or expand electronic communications, or simply opt-out of future emails.
There are also three prominent links displayed in the message. Two links titled “Find a Hotel” and “Explore a Plan” lead to a colorful and interesting corporate website that can help a customer plan a stay at one of the aforementioned 3,700 hotels around the world. Another link leads to the Rewards page where the customer can see how they fare with this benefit.
What can fundraisers learn from this well executed email? Consider these possibilities:
· A “you” focused message from your organization’s leader presented in a conversational and genuine tone
· Links that direct the recipient to select giving or volunteer opportunities
· A way for the donor to help craft their own communication experience
I think this would be a far superior relationship builder than the common and hackneyed “two weeks left in the year, send your gift now” approach. What do you think?