How To Get Your Customer's Number (Without Appearing Desperate)

“Stop asking me for my phone number, Facebook. You haven't earned it. Your pickup lines suck, you're terribly self-involved, you're manic, and you completely overhaul your personality every other month. And not once have you told me that I'm pretty.”

A friend of mine on Facebook posted this status update recently and it made me think about how hard brands strive to get a customer’s mobile number. Facebook, like any other brand or marketer, wants more access to you, the consumer. They want as much of you as they can get. Your email address is no longer enough. 

They want to get a first date. Metaphorically, of course.

I don’t have a problem with marketers seeking more information from consumers but I do take issue with the approach many marketers are using. There is an inherent disconnect between what marketers think is acceptable and what the consumer is willing to put up with. But that said, the relationship between marketers and consumers is exactly that: a relationship. 



Unfortunately marketers need relationship advice, because they usually take their customers for granted or treat them like strangers. Think about your own personal relationships … this approach wouldn’t be very successful, right?

The metaphor extends nicely. When the rules of “picking up” at the bar are applied to the world of marketing, there are interesting similarities. Let’s assign the role of the confident, outgoing (and somewhat charming) person who’s making the moves at the bar, to the brand. And the consumer assumes the role of the cautious, introverted person minding his or her own business, enjoying a quiet drink at the bar. 

Unfortunately, many brands are making the same mistakes in their advertising as the cocky person at the bar. They showcase their product features, and puff their chest as if to say, “Hey, I’m amazing! BUY ME!” 

But the ever-cautious consumer has their guard up. He’s been scorned by empty promises before and is wary of the oversell. In fact, he was approached by almost-identical looking people 10 times that same night. The consumer needs to be charmed into letting down their defenses down, a funny remark or an engaging story to begin with (NOT another drink (promotional offer) that’s tacky) to pique his interest. 

Once marketers get through that first stage they still can’t go in for the kill. After all, the funny opening line merely starts the conversation, it by no means closes the deal. The romance and charm must continue, marketers must persuade the consumer that their brands are worth getting to know. 

The consumer needs to see that the brand offers value. Value to them and to the world. 

This is where marketers can show their brand’s feathers, and start talking about features and benefits. However, there must be a clear communication around value. “Here’s how what I do is actually of value to you.” When a consumer can directly relate a company’s value to their needs or interests, their guard drops down even further - now you have her attention. 

This is where the charming person at the bar thinks, “Hey, I’ve got a shot here!” 

But the charm offensive must continue. Having demonstrated what is in it for the consumer, the brand must now persuade her to make the investment — to spend her hard-earned cash. At this point, the consumer needs to see even more value. 

Next, the price comes into the conversation. For brands, the price is either, “We’re the best so we’re expensive.” Or, “Take this discount offer and give us a shot.”  In the bar there is a cost equation going on as well - the consumer thinks about the consequences… Is this gonna be worth it?

Once the marketer has “closed the deal” and the consumer is now a customer, the brand has the best opportunity to ask for her mobile number. 


But as all marketers recognize, the relationship continues. Marketers must be tactful in how they use the mobile number. No-one likes being labelled “too pushy,” “obsessive,” or “selfish” in the dating scene. The same is true in marketing circles. 

So to all brand marketers out there, please, be cool.

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