Shut Up and Let Me Market To You

Oftentimes I'll get an email from some company's list for which the sender's address is I'm sure there's an email marketing expert out there who thinks this makes perfect sense. It's not coming from a person, so don't pretend it's coming from a person, and don't let people think they can reply to the email or they'll be disappointed. Great reasoning.

Except that I don't want an email that's not from a person. There's a good chance I don't want an email that is from a person, either, but you telling me that I can't reply if I want to isn't going to make me more receptive to your marketing message. Subtly, or perhaps not so subtly, you're sending me the message that you don't care about what I have to say, you only care about what you have to say.

And if that's the case, why would I want to give you my money?

Email Marketing // Random Thoughts

emailAt a client session this spring I spoke about email marketing. Not the kind where you buy a list and use Constant Contact or some other service to send out your own version of spam to a qualified list, I'm talking about the ways to use email as an interpersonal communication tool to build your business. You know, as in you send an email, someone reads it, maybe sends you one back. Sounds simple enough, but many people still get it wrong. Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so. The big brains at Harvard Business School agree with me, hence their recent management tip: 4 Tips for Writing Emails That People Will Read. My two favorites:

- Use specifics. "I need this tomorrow at noon," instead of "I need this ASAP." The more specific you are, the easier it is for people to focus on what you need them to do. If you don't give them an exact idea, you run the risk of being put in the "To Do Later" folder and we all know what happens to those.

- Stay on topic. Make it easy for the recipient to understand the point of your email, to respond to it and to file it for future reference. If you're all over the place, I guarantee you'll be put in a pile to deal with later, which usually has the same sad ending as the "To Do Later" folder.

Yes, these seem simple, but we all need reminders.

HBS has an expanded article on the same topic, also worth reading, which stresses the importance of revising your email copy until you get it right. Check it out at David Silverman's Harvard Business blog, Words at Work.

Blackberry // Don't Believe the Hype

BlackBerry is blowing it. The long-standing mobile email champ took the early lead by focusing on product, making devices that worked and appealing to consumers' practical, rather than emotional needs. That's fine when you're the only - or the main - game in town. But like it always does, the game has changed. And BlackBerry hasn't done the work to integrate the brand - not just the product - into its customers’ lives. The one notable branding effort has been a John Mayer tour sponsorship, a clear demonstration that it doesn't understand its customers.

For the creative class, and what's more accurately described as the cultural class, BBs have been a staple in the tech arsenal, along with Apple laptops of various incarnations. Before it loses too much ground to you-know-who and the other you-know-who, RIM needs to begin a conspicuous and consistent demonstration that it values the lifestyles of the folks in which its products play such an important role.

Rebelize it:

- Collaborate with interesting visual artists to make limited-edition cases, skins, and other accessories. Then host art openings to launch those products and get them in the hands of the real influencers. Send out invites via BB Messenger or direct PIN messages so only BB owners and their +1s are hip.

- Do the same with music. Commission custom ringtones or original recordings and then host listening parties. Involve BB owners in deciding what artists to support.

- BlackBerry is about business, right? So facilitate growth in your users’ businesses with a series of networking events and conferences, then extend that community online. Do you think people are going to jump on the latest trendy phone if you’re actually helping their businesses?

There's lots more work to do, but this is a good start at building real relationships with people who care about the brand and will gladly lend their influence if approached in the right way.