Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
1/14/2014
09:06 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

My Dearest Spammer

A love letter to the tech marketers who buy my contact information.

The longer-term answer: Polish that marketerd
Before I give any marketing advice, let me just say that I'm not a marketer. I had other options in life.

That said, I'm of the Fred Wilson school of marketing, which boils down to "build products that don't suck." How? The Steve Blank school of product development: Start with a customer, not a product. It's not about the damn product. Sale No. 2 should come from a rabid introduction from customer No. 1.

Still not making sense? One last clue: Tony Hsieh of Zappos fame doesn't actually cobble shoes. It's not about building the product; it's about creating the culture that produces evangelists, internally and externally. Note that unlike with Fred and Steve, I didn't link to Tony's writing. The lesson there is that sometimes books can feel like chloroform.

If there's a theme here, it's 1) read a non-marketing book every once in awhile; and 2) assume that the best way to transform a process is to transform its adjacencies.

You know this: Your sales and marketing teams are actually everyone in your entire company. Act accordingly. Hire people who leverage their creativity and their networks on your company's behalf. Apply what you've learned from social.

Here's how I explain old-school salesmanship to the social generation. Back in the day, when grandpa hired a really great salesman, he was actually paying for that person's Rolodex (a social network made of cardboard). That salesman would systematically reach out to all the businesspeople he'd ever met (anyone who'd ever given him a "like"), and he'd use his phone or face-to-face meetings to "tweet" how impressed he was with grandpa's company/product. What grandpa was really paying for was the salesman's willingness to exert his social influence (his Klout Score) on behalf of grandpa's company/product.

You know how Facebook's real product is you? Well, if you work at a company, a variation of that rule applies. You're its product. So when you spam, that's the company's product. And it's nearly impossible to look past that fact.

If you're not personally guilty but you do work at this kind of company, start a conversation and persist until it changes its practices. I certainly press on it at Big. Our entire industry is still sending unsolicited snail mail by the truckload. Snail mail! Tiny countries worth of trees! So when it comes to choosing between opt-in and opt-out strategies, outspoken is my middle name.

Should your company continue to market via email? Absolutely. People who actively opt-in to receive content actually consume it. But don't let them confuse the question of email's effectiveness with the ethics of non-consensual marketing.

If you're directly responsible for the "Hello Coverlet" notes that I receive, take all that money and effort you're putting into hiding in my virtual bushes and instead invest it in building a company culture that doesn't suck.

Your love is like a fever
I use an app called Clear to keep a list of my favorite spammy transgressions. True to my New York state of mind, I call the list "Aggressive Panhandling."

My recent favorites are 1) the guy who asked for a read receipt on his third "why aren't you answering my note" email; and 2) my proof that there's no war on Christmas: all of the spamilicious greetings I got last month. Nothing -- and I mean nothing! -- follows "Merry Christmas Coverlet" quite as joyously as a note about the mysterious power of Hadoop.

I almost cried.

To be fair, I'm not sure I need a list of transgressions given that they're all burnt into my psyche, but Clear is brilliant: minimalist in design and fun to use. I'll never get a marketing email from the app's makers because they don't need the hard sell.

They had me before hello.

The author, a senior IT executive at one of the nation's largest banks, shares his experiences under the pseudonym Coverlet Meshing. He has spent the last two decades in the financial services sector, picking a fight with anyone who doesn't understand that banks are actually software companies and need to invest in engineering as a core competency. His cheery outlook and diplomatic nature are rarely reflected in his writing. Write to him at coverlet.meshing@ubm.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CoverletMeshing.

InformationWeek Conference is an exclusive two-day event taking place at Interop where you will join fellow technology leaders and CIOs for a packed schedule with learning, information sharing, professional networking, and celebration. Come learn from each other and honor the nation's leading digital businesses at our InformationWeek Elite 100 Awards Ceremony and Gala. You can find out more information and register here. In Las Vegas, March 31 to April 1, 2014.

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
anon5986881945
50%
50%
anon5986881945,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 12:48:39 PM
Re: Some people fear clowns
...wow
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2014 | 9:21:48 PM
Re: Some people fear clowns
The unsubscribe links that bother me are the ones that say it could take several weeks to remove you from the list. When do you actually know whether or not it has worked and whether or not it's time to unsubscribe again? I don't trust them.
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2014 | 11:58:56 AM
Re: Possible Solution
I like it, especially if a portion of that money comes to me in the form of a rebate.
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2014 | 10:09:45 AM
Re: Hello Whoopty
Thanks. It's one I debated bringing over to my profeessional career once I started working, but in the end decided to hell with it and it's pretty much interchangeable for my real name at this point :).
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2014 | 12:32:16 AM
Possible Solution
What if we could subscribe to an email provider that charges any sender, say, 1/10 of a penny to send a message to us? That shouldn't cost most individuals even 5 cent a day, and, it would make large-scale spamming prohibitively expensive.
Coverlet
0%
100%
Coverlet,
User Rank: Strategist
1/14/2014 | 11:51:19 PM
Some people fear clowns
I fear unsubscribe links.  

I'm sure most of them work but I tend to wear that special kind of aluminum foil hat that says 'clicking on that link will verify to these nutjobs that I'm here.'   I'm unintentionally proving what psychology has been saying for a century: nutjobs create nutjobs.
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/14/2014 | 8:25:01 PM
Re: Hello Whoopty
In addition to "Hello" I tend to get "Greetings" and "Dear Madam" as well.
Somedude8
100%
0%
Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2014 | 3:48:52 PM
Hello
Oh geez, I actually start quite a few emails with "Hello."

Can we get some kind of award or something for the author? His stuff is almost always 10/10.
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/14/2014 | 11:55:32 AM
No shortcuts
What this all comes down to is that there's no substitute for good content. But making good content is hard -- probably well nigh impossible in a culture that thinks sending spam beginning with "hello" is a good idea.
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/14/2014 | 11:51:08 AM
Re: Hello Whoopty
Kudos. Aliases do not get much better than "Whoopty."
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest Septermber 14, 2014
It doesn't matter whether your e-commerce D-Day is Black Friday, tax day, or some random Thursday when a post goes viral. Your websites need to be ready.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.