Barnes and Noble Pursues Borders Customers

Barnes and Noble 4Now that Borders has closed its doors, Barnes and Noble has purchased some assets -- including Borders' customer list. With an email, Barnes and Noble is luring Borders' former customers to its stores. The subject line was an odd choice: "Important Information Regarding Your Borders Account." (The last time I saw a similar subject, I received 18 emails about a security breach.)

Another curious choice in the CEO's email was the vacillating tone -- at times bold ("Our intent in buying the Borders customer list is simply to try and earn your business") and at times legalistic:

"As part of Borders [sic] ceasing operations, we acquired some of its assets including Borders brand trademarks and their customer list. The subject matter of your DVD and other video purchases will be part of the transferred information. The federal bankruptcy court approved this sale on September 26, 2011."

Barnes and Noble makes an additional pitch on its website: "Four Convincing Reasons to Stay in the Barnes & Noble Family."

Discussion Starters:

  • How do you assess the Barnes and Noble email? What are the most and least persuasive arguments?
  • What examples of credibility, logical arguments, and emotional appeals do you see in this message?
  • Where are the direct sales messages in this email? Do you consider these subtle or too much?

Assignment Idea:

  •  Rewrite Lynch's email in your own words. What improvements can you make to the message?