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The word “friend” in marketing

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday June 26, 2006 )

In a marketing email I received today, the opening salutation was “Hello Friend”. I didn’t know the person and given that I can count my friends on the fingers of one hand, and with fingers to spare, it was highly unlikely he ever would be.

I was instantly suspicious of the email as notes that start out like this are usually either:

Nigerian/419 scams
– Religious propaganda
MLM schemes
– People touting cheesey information products
– Get rich quick schemes
– Promotions for pills and potions
– Begging emails

..and other various bottom feeders of the web. I’m not stating that *anyone* who does use the term is one of these, but it’s just a huge red flag for me.

I can’t remember the last time that any of my friends actually commenced an email conversation by calling me “Friend”. Oddly enough, they use my name or a nickname – go figure ;).

I also often see the use of the word “friend” in business communications where some sort of negotiation has only very recently been established. When someone I’m discussing a partnership with writes back to me and states; “we’ll do this for you my friend”; what I read is: “we are more than likely going to shaft you big time”.

I think this word ranks highly as another poison word in marketing – it should not be used unless there’s an established relationship.

At best, it’s pointless. At worst, it can set up a negative impression in the readers’ mind – and all within the first two words of your spiel.

“Hello”, or “Greetings” on their own is fine in my books if you don’t know the name (or gender) of person you are approaching.

But, like I said, it may be just me. What are your thoughts on this – is addressing someone as “friend” a no-no in marketing copy for initial approaches and pre-sales communications?


1 comment for The word “friend” in marketing
  1. I found this interesting. I was trying to think of a tagline for my company’s new blog, and one that came up was: “The active lifestyle blog for friends of XXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX.”

    I thought it through and decided that by saying the word “friend” in the tagline, I might be excluding people who just happen upon the website. After reading your post, I think I made the right decision. I think it is only best to use that word if you have a tight and established relationship with the receiving end of the marketing piece/promo/what-have-you.


    Comment by Mary — May 29, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

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