Like a
lot of people, we read and organize the blogs we subscribe to by using
the Google Reader. Like a log of blog readers, one of the features is
that it indicates which of the blogs have been updated recently, and
therefore, by default, which haven't. And one of the big, echoing voids
is the blog for GSK's Alli, the weight-loss drug.

If you go to
the blog, the most recent post is from September 4, 2008. That's five
months ago. Either someone pulled the plug on this blog, or Google has
some kind of colossal bug in their reader that someone needs to look
into.

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Assuming
it's the former, just zapping a communication channel like this is a
major relationship marketing no-no. You don't do that.

Relationship
marketing is built on trust. Over time, and if it's done right, there's
a gradual increase in trust among your customers. They trust that you
will be truthful, that you will participate, and that you will give at
least as much as you get in the relationship. If you suddenly just
vanish, what you've done is yanked the curtain aside, and reveal that
what you had labeled a relationship was actually a transaction. You've
also implicitly revealed that trusting you was a mistake, and that when
it came down to it, you were manipulating your own customers. This is
slightly better than the recording industry suing their own customers
for illegally downloading music, but not much better. It's still pretty
bad.

And it's vastly worse than having no relationship at all to
begin with. If Alli simply ended their blog, and have not so much as
put up a post announcing that they've suspended it, they've committed
the cardinal sin of relationship marketing. If you need to end or close
the blog, fine. Just say so, apologize, and do it. But do not ever just
disappear. Not only will your readers wonder where you went, they'll
wonder if you were ever really there in the first place.

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