February 20, 2014

About The Author: 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.

Stop using my first name in your marketing emails. It isn't cute or clever. And it's certainly not going to increase your response rates. There will never come a day when I think, "Geez, how's my old friend Noreply doing?"

Forget for a moment that it's unimaginative and desperate, especially if you have a legitimate product or service. When you pay some bottom-feeding company like DiscoverOrg for my work email address or phone number (necessarily without my consent!), your marketing smells of V1agra.

Even if your tone is professional -- even if you use your real name -- and even if you somehow sound authentic, you don't deserve a meeting or even a response. It's like a mugger returning your empty wallet with a crayon-written note: "Check this box if you want to be my BFF." I don't. You're a spammer. You deserve a framed picture on some wall of shame. The problem is that we don't have said wall. Spamhaus has its 10 Worst Spammers list, but they're all predatory asses selling placebos to your grandmother in Kansas. And it should irk us all that most of the faces on the Spamhaus list have smug smiles. The lesson there is that you can't shame someone who is proud of his "ingenuity."

But a market-based solution would work for enterprise spammers because most are legitimate businesses. They just saaaahuck at marketing. They don't create useful, consumable, edutaining content. If they blog, it's completely self-serving. And their definition of a white paper is a way to play buzzword bingo without stock images of women in business suits (the lowest possible bar for demonstrating diversity).

Look, no one likes spam. So writing an anti-spam column is like finally coming out against racism. The problem is that our cultural understanding of spam lets craptastic sales organizations rationalize their "marketing" (in giant air quotes) as legit simply because there's a real company behind it.

I get hundreds of these emails and calls a week. From people at real companies, mind you. And trust me when I tell you that I'm not alone in thinking that this approach cripples their credibility and increasingly delegitimizes their business.

What follows is a proposal for how to end this behavior (with or without the cooperation of the offending parties).

First, a threat posing as a weekend dev project

All right, team, for this exercise we're going to need a website. But what to name it? Let's be generous and say that only one out of every four marketers sucks all the marrow out of our lives. Not marketer A, B, or C but that lazy fourth one, leaving us a high-concept domain name: MarketerD.com. Someone trademark it. Quickly.

Read the full article on InformationWeek.