February 24, 2007

Don't Look Down Now

Denny Hatch hits the nail on the head again in his most recent Business Common Sense when he compares the contempt shown for the customer in a great deal of direct mail with that of the fictional Harry Lime character in Graham Greene's The Third Man:

"Victims?’ he asked. ‘Don’t be melodramatic, Holley. Look down there,’ he went on, pointing through the window at the people moving like black flies at the base of the Wheel. ‘Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving—forever?

If I said you can have twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stops, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money—without hesitation?"

Of course, this attitude isn't confined to direct mailers but can be found in all sorts of business-speak. It always seems to me that a smart business-owner can steal a real march on the competition simply by displaying a little respect for the customer.

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