Monthly Archives: June 2016

Beating the Numbers Game


There are real people behind the numbers.


From time-to-time, an acquaintance emails me with a request, the gist of which goes like this:

I’m working on a big, cool project and I need your help to get the word out.

Please tell your friends, colleagues, etc to check out my big, cool, project at

This is the “friends and family” version of numbers game; the idea that if I “employ” enough friends and family to get the word out, even a small percentage of takers will be enough to produce the sales I want.

It makes sense but when I get these kinds of requests, I’m actually a lot less inclined to help.


This is reason so many businesses want your email address. An email address puts you in the marketing funnel and you are now a “prospect.”

The problem I have with the whole numbers game is it inserts a layer of abstraction in human relationships and actually damages trust and likeability…two factors that are critical when it comes to cultivating quality customers.

The numbers game is especially damaging when:

  • the business only communicates when they want something
  • they don’t acknowledge the human relationship in any way

I think the first point is pretty self-explanatory. We all know people who only get in touch with us when they need money, need a favor, etc. In the days before the internet, we often referred to people like this as “users.”

“Acknowledging the human relationship” is when someone tells you why they value their relationship with you. It’s when you see the real human beings attached to those numbers.

It’s best when the acknowledgement is personal and specific, “You asked some thought-provoking questions during the presentation I gave last month. You helped me realize how much better presentations are when I engage my audience.”

And when you make it a priority to acknowledge when someone makes the effort to reach out. It takes energy to write an email or review. It means the person reaching out is engaged with you and your organization. It’s so simply to write a quick, sincere “thanks for the review you wrote.” And so few people take the time to do so.

The numbers game is very seductive because it holds out the promise of a return on your investment of effort. But when you fail to acknowledge the human beings behind those numbers, you may actually be damaging your relationships with potential advocates.

I actually enjoy getting the word out for people and businesses I care about…but only when I trust they see my ME. If I’m just an email address on a list, I don’t do anything on their behalf.

People become customers and advocates. Numbers do not.



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