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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 10 March 2014

Too personal: When marketing gets it wrong (and says sorry...)

Ever felt a marketing campaign hits you so closely, that you`re moved to buy the product? A skincare cream, maybe, that you `know` is going to make you look ten years younger? OK...maybe not. How about a car that was designed for your lifestyle--loads of room in the back; stylish as hell;  frugally low on fuel consumption...or that miracle kitchen cleaner that gets the job done in half the time. Allegedly.

Getting personal with marketing can, sometimes work, if you`re sent a mailshot, based on your purchasing history or consumer profile.

And then again, marketing a product or service with the personal touch can go so wrong.

So here`s my own `personal` message today, to Trainline.

Morning, guys.

I use your service a lot. I`m always leaping on trains for work, or to see friends and family. And, like most people, I love a bargain. I`ve tweeted about your Best Fare Finder section, often.

I know that Mother`s Day is approaching, and I don`t blame you for offering a few travel discounts around this time. And letting customers know with an email. You often use my first name when you mail me. It`s quite clever. And you did this time--with this wording:

`Jane, we`re not implying you forgot about mum. But just in case.....`

And that`s where the personal touch falls apart a bit.

You weren`t to know, of course, that I lost my precious mum more than 20 years ago, prematurely, from breast cancer, and that Mother`s Day can be a tricky time for me. But you should be able to guess that a fair proportion of the customers you`ve emailed with a similar message, have lost their mums, too, and so a `personal` hit feels a bit erm...inappropriate, and upsetting. All of us know that there are chocolates and cards and flowers on sale, and we wish everyone with a mum they can visit and hug on The Day, a lovely time.

But when you`re planning `personal` mailshots...sometimes, one size doesn`t `fit all`. And now I`ve had to spend ten minutes writing a blog about this to get it off my chest, instead of booking train tickets to Birmingham.On Trainline. Oh well.

Just feed that back to your marketing team, please.

Thanks. Nothing personal.

We're still embarrassed but definitely feel better that you've accepted our apology. Thanks and lesson learnt! Vikki


  1. Hi Jane,

    Just a little note to say that we are very sorry, it really was not our intention to upset anyone.

    We fully appreciate that one size does not fit all and hold our hands up that yes, we did get it wrong.

    This has been fed back to our marketing team and let’s hope next time we don’t leave ourselves looking embarrassed.

    Kind regards,

    A very apologetic team

  2. Thankyou, Trainline for this swift and honest response, which is much appreciated. Apology accepted. Tickets now booked.