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Yes, Please Do Come In, But Better Watch Your Step!

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This little parody, and the comments that follow, were written nearly six years ago. In my opinion, they're even more appropriate now than they were then. Let me know what you think.

You are sitting in your house one sweltering summer morning and chatting to a friend on the telephone.

Because it's so stuffy inside, you've left the front door slightly ajar. You're engrossed in your conversation and almost oblivious to what's happening around you.

Eventually, you look up - and emit a loud gasp.

A well groomed gentleman, clutching a typical salesman's briefcase, is sitting opposite you, waiting patiently for you to finish.

After mumbling an apology to your friend on the phone, you angrily demand to know who the stranger is. Further, you want to know how he had the effrontery to walk in like that, without as much as a knock.

Far from being repentant, our stranger is puzzled and hurt.

''Nobody objected, so I walked right in,'' he explains. ''Since all your neighbors are going wild about the thing I want to show you, I know you'd be mad at me if I left you out...''

''Well,'' you think to yourself, ''he looks harmless enough, so I might as well let him stay.'' You motion for him to wait while you finish your telephone conversation.

You finish talking on the telephone, and look up again, but your unexpected visitor has disappeared!

Ah, but there he is! The intruder has now moved to the kitchen where he is eagerly devouring some goodies from your refrigerator.

''Just refueling,'' he insists. ''You didn't say I can't.''

''Gee, what did I do wrong now?'' our would-be salesman thinks to himself as you bodily eject him from your premises...

Strange? Maybe not...

A strange saga? Yes, but if you distribute marketing messages, newsletters, e-zines or the like by email, perhaps you'll feel some sympathy for this hapless fellow, because it's just possible that you're guilty of the same sin!

Today, the so-called principle of ''permission marketing'' - ''We won't bother you unless you opt-in first'' - is widely accepted as an industry best practice. Too bad that more don't realize there's a bit more to it than that.

You've managed to gain access to the private domains of your readers. Congratulations!

But what happens next? Depending to a large extent on your approach,you're either received willingly and enthusiastically, or - like our salesman - you're tolerated because you're there already.

But either way, at least you're in. Whew, what a relief - and what a privilege! Shouldn't you be treading very, very carefully now?

And then what do you do? Make a beeline straight for the kitchen!

''Before we introduce our breathtaking content this week, I just want to tell you about the wonderful deal I've managed to arrange for you - exclusive, of course, to subscribers to this publication. Only $50 instead of the usual $500, but you must reply within the next three days...''

''Here's three very special offers for you, and then we'll get down to business...Hurry, before it's too late!''

''As you know, I seldom do solo mailings, but every once in a while I stumble across something that will change your whole life..''

And when you're kicked out of the house, you want to know why!

Azriel Winnett is creator of - Your Communication Skills Portal. This popular free website helps you improve your communication and relationship skills in your business or professional life, in the family unit and on the social scene. New articles added almost daily.

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