Let me tell you about one of the worst moments in my business career. It’s been a long career and there have been plenty of not so good moments, but this was right up there.

I was in my office one day and I was summoned to the reception area where a distraught lady had insisted on seeing me. She was angry and sad at the same time. Why? ..... Her husband had died just a few months previously and she had just received a marketing piece from us offering him life insurance!

This lady felt she needed to come and let us know that our company was heartless and insincere. She felt sure we had systems to avoid such mistakes. We didn’t! In those days there was no way to access official records.

Needless to say, I apologised profusely thinking at the same time... "this lady is right, the last thing she needed after the trauma of losing her husband was an inappropriate badly timed marketing offer.”

I’m absolutely sure that this unfortunate incident was shared with her family and her friends and they too would have spread the word amongst their circle of friends. The damage to a brand’s reputation when something like this happens is significant.

So, how can we marketers learn from this experience? How do we ensure that we don’t send unwanted marketing messages? Because no matter how creative we are and how relevant we think our offer, the simple fact is that not everyone wants to hear from us. Apart from the 36,000 who died last year, there are literally over 100,000 ordinary Kiwis who don’t want our emails, telemarketing calls, direct mail or any other unasked-for communication.

Why do we take the risk of offending these people and damaging our brand when we can so easily avoid doing so by subscribing to the Marketing Association’s Name Suppression Services? The ‘Do Not Mail and Do Not Call’ lists are available in real-time and the Deaths list is updated monthly directly from the Registrar of births deaths and marriages. You can read all about the service here.

Now you know one of the reasons I’m so passionate about best practice marketing, especially where customer data is concerned. It’s not pleasant facing an angry and distressed consumer. Do yourself a favour and ensure your organisation subscribes to the name suppression service.