Not long ago, Ardath Albee of the Marketing Interactions blog registered with a company’s Web site so she could download a whitepaper that looked interesting. The next day she received an email from a “Sales Development Specialist” asking Albee to place herself in one of three “buckets” so he could accurately gauge her interest level:

  • 1) Thank you for the follow-up and material; however, at this point I am only educating myself on [topic] best practices.
  • 2) While I am educating myself on [topic], I am also interested in learning more about [company’s] [topic] solutions.
  • 3) Please call me as soon as possible. I am looking to evaluate [topic] programs and take a look at what [company] has to offer.

Albee’s reaction to this email was decidedly mixed. “On the one hand,” she says, “I like being able to hit reply and say, hey, I’m a #1. On the other hand, I resent the implication that I’m just like everyone else and can be so easily categorized.”

The senders of this message undoubtedly believe it sets a tone of respectful helpfulness. But it also has the potential to create an uneasy sense that they’re marketing on their own terms. “I downloaded a document—ONE document—and now I’m in their sales process,” notes Albee. “And I’m either going to be known as a 1, 2 or 3 or a nobody.”

Asking people to “bucket” themselves might have less-than-desirable consequences. “We have … learned to pose open ended questions to … potential customers,” says a commenter at Albee’s post. “Nothing is more closed than a bucket.”

Source: Marketing Interactions.