Is your Email Marketing sending business to your Competitors?


If you feel a poorly executed email marketing campaign is better than no email marketing at all; you are wrong!

Email marketing if properly executed helps buyers buy and can reinforce your message with prospective buyers for future purchases. If poorly executed you will also make an impression, a negative one that will not only last, but spread.

I can tell when the end of the month is approaching by the amount of email spam I receive. Below is an email I received today that illustrates a number of mistakes you must avoid in email marketing.

Dear Customer,

We are dominant player in the Business List Industry with over 40 Million B2B contacts and 200 Million B2C contacts. We have all varieties of business records that come with complete contact details including working business email addresses.

We can assist you in reaching out to your target audience in multiple ways. We can provide you with updated information such as contact name, email address, phone number, fax number, mailing address, job title, etc…

Job Title Scope: Reach top-level executives like CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, COOs, CIOs, Presidents, Chairman’s, GMs, Mid level Managers, Sales and Marketing Managers, HR, Managers, Finance Managers. 

Our products and services are:
Email Appending, Email List Acquisition, Email Blast, Email Lead Generation, Data Appending etc.

If the in-house database that you has information that has gone bad or is incomplete, we can update it with the above mentioned fields. Let us know the criteria for your target audience and a sample file will be mailed. Can you give me some specifics regarding your target audience? 

Example: In business, are you interested in only a certain type of business?  Are the gross revenues of the company important? Do you prefer to target companies with a particular employee size? Do you need the contact name and title of someone at the business you wish to target?  If consumers, do you want to target people with a certain income level, occupation, children at home, etc.

If you would prefer to advise me of your requirements via email, my email address is XXXXXX

Please let me know of a convenient time for a quick call, looking to talking to you soon.


[I removed the name]

Business Development Manager

We respect your privacy. If you want to stop receiving emails from us, please send a reply with the email subject line as “Leave out”.


My thoughts;

· First, I am not your “customer”, I do not know you and to use a generic “Dear Customer” quite frankly is insulting. What it means is you have no clue who I am and you have already lost me. You do not know me, care about me or my needs.

· Next, as I read through your message you provide, sell; email contact information, and you go on to say you have a core competency in reaching top executives…Really? If your product is so good, why didn’t you use it when trying to engage with me?

· “Email Appending, Email List Acquisition, Email Blast, Email Lead Generation, Data Appending etc.” …OK you have explained “what” you do, but what problem do you solve for me? Oh I get it; I am supposed to figure that out on my own…

· “Are you interested in only a certain type of business? “ OK, yes, I am interested in certain types of businesses, again if you have a competency in this area why didn’t you demonstrate your knowledge in my type of business?

· “Are the gross revenues of the company important?” Are you kidding me? Now you are insulting me again. I also reflect; what if I asked the CEO of one of the companies I would like to help this question, it would be a disqualifier.

· You did provide your email that I X’d out in case the CEO of your company is reading this post, but you failed to provide your phone number?

· Good job you did do one thing right that I will use; “We respect your privacy. If you want to stop receiving emails from us, please send a reply with the email subject line as “Leave out”.´

· And to add insult to injury when I try to close this message I am prompted that you want to know if I read this? NO! Shame on you!

After receiving this message I will never buy from this company, never! Not only will I not buy, I am so shocked by this poorly executed message I will tell a number of those in my network this story and I am sure they too will not want to partner with you.

If you are using email marketing, learn from the mistakes in the above and;

· If you do not know a contact name, title, do not send

· “eat your own dog food”, in this example, if you sell contact names for email marketing you had best demonstrate a competency in the space you play

· Give me an opportunity to opt out

· Know something about your customer, their industry, and more importantly know your market and it’s most pervasive problems.

· Once you know those problems, share how your product or service solves them

· Don’t ask questions that insult my intelligence

· Provide your phone number, what if I did want to call you?


How about your company?

Are you participating in email marketing? If so share best practices.

Would you buy from this vendor?


The Expression of Joy Ad campaign by BMW; May be an Expression of Big Money Wasted


Companies spend millions and often billions to advertise their products in their marketplace however the effort to be creative often results in a dilution of their message. When your message lacks clarity, it requires an interpreter…and the variability of the individual interpreters’ ability (your salespeople) to articulate your value is not something market leading companies leave to chance today.


When its 114 degrees in Scottsdale Arizona there is not much to do on weekends unless you head for the higher elevations to escape the heat. As I said when I wrote: Are interruptions “transforming “your customers into shoppers again? I like to go to movies. Now that we are into the hottest part of our summer I am seeing a number of movies.

Is it me or are the ads prior to the movies getting longer? Do they really need to advertise TV series in movie theaters? Recently, I observed something interesting, the “Expression of Joy ad” by BMW. The ad starts out with a Z4 driving through paint and painting the surface like it were a huge canvas, with just one problem…when the ad came on the audience in the theater verbally groaned. So I’m not the only one who has seen this ad and hates it? Is it the music or is it because the ad feels like “the never ending ad?”

Personally I think BMW’s make amazing vehicles, and I get what they were trying to do with this ad; however the audience I shared the theater with not only failed to appreciate this ad’s artistic expression, but verbally groaned when the ad started.

I hear comments in front of me sharing their disdain for this ad. Now mind you, there were a number of other ads from an air conditioned indoor storage facility to a counter top manufacturer who supplies four different surfaces based on your needs, budget, and overall design objectives. None of the other ads caused a group audience response like the BMW ad, again…interesting.

Did BMW test this ad prior to its release? I am curious what the total cost of this ad was and is it driving the desired sales revenues, or just another Addy award for the creative team that developed and produced this masterpiece?

To me this ad says: our cars have so much margin in them we can afford to produce ads like this… 

The reason for this post is not to bash BMW, as I said they engineer amazing driving machines, their fit and finish is best in class, but more so to challenge everyone reading this to listen to the responses your market is making to your advertising. Are you listening? Is your advertising about driving revenue, adding value to your bottom line, or helping your ad firm win another award to dust on a shelf before their next new account pitch? As I discussed in my post: 88% of Those Surveyed Said Advertising Services Have Become Commoditized? Ad Firms Heal Thy Self! I discuss how ad firms must fight the perception their services have become commoditized. Perhaps the firm that created the BMW Z4 ad swung the pendulum too far in the creative direction? At the end of the day, my single opinion does not mean much, but an audience of consumers in north Scottsdale Arizona, groaning when your ad comes on should get BMW’s attention.

Are you listening to the response or lack of response to your advertising?

Have you tested your soon to be released creative in your market?

When you developed the creative, did you do so with a specific buyer persona in mind?

Or do you think I am just a ROI Neanderthal who lacks an appreciation for artistic expression?


Market leading companies create messages that resonate not repulse their market.

88% of Those Surveyed Said Advertising Services Have Become Commoditized? Ad Firms Heal Thy Self!


I am a problem junkie. I see problems everywhere. Problems are awesome as they provide an opportunity for new solutions that we can monetize. Over the years I have called this “the art of thoughts”. Recently I was on the Advertising Age website and participated in a survey that said 88% of those surveyed feel Ad Agency services have become commoditized.

This really bothered me as one of the favorite companies I helped was an integrated marketing firm in North Canton Ohio called Innis Maggiore . I had hired this firm over the years when I was the VP of Sales and Marketing for a local manufacturer, and when our company was acquired Innis Maggiore group asked me to do what I do, and  help them grow. We served a variety of companies from a small Amish furniture maker to MSN.COM , Harry London’s Chocolates, and a local hospital as well as many more. It was easy to help them grow because their work …well it worked, it added measurable value to their clients’ revenues.

(Obviously they never let me help with client copy!)

Honestly, as a buyer of Ad firm services for years I lacked an appreciation of the what goes on behind the scenes. Many times the good firms just made what they do look too easy.The firms I hired would listen to what we needed and produce something that either drove the desired result, usually revenues, or their work had no effect, and I found another firm. Good Ad firm partners like Innis do a great deal of work to ensure their work produces a result. At Innis we often would listen to the client’s objectives, and after the meeting have more questions than answers. So we would go into our clients’ market and interview customers, non customers, and influencers. From these interviews we would gain a better understanding of the problem our clients’ product solves and then we were equipped to turn those amazing creative folks  loose on the solution. They say you need to “walk a mile in another man’s shoes…”well having helped this firm gave me a new appreciation for what goes on behind the final work for market leading firms.

Good Ad firms connect to the problem in the market, understand buyers and speak to those personas in a voice that emotionally connects. When I wrote “blame-storming” I referred to an ad that is amazing. Whoever led the creative for this ad connected with something almost every executive has felt in a meeting at some time…”being thrown under the bus”. This firm nailed it so well that it  made me feel Direct TV knows me…

What is the value of that kind of creative? Creative that cuts through the noise and gets your message to connect with a targeted buyer persona is not priced as a commodity.

When creative connects so deeply with your buyers that it creates an emotional attachment it shows you have a market leading Ad Firm partner.

Market Losing Ad firms will lower their billable hourly rates and write off more of their hours. They will replace their talented creative’s with young kids fresh out of college to drive down their costs. In a recent Ad Age article it discussed how firms are auctioning their services on EBay, offering free work and crazy low rates to capture large accounts from market leading firms.

If you are running an Ad firm today, you must” heal thy self.” Get out and understand the needs of your customers. Create buyer personas for your customers. For example, in today’s environment it should not shock us that the guy in charge of Ad Firms at P&G comes from a purchasing background. You have a new buyer persona. Like your clients, you now have many more people in the buying decision…make it your quest to understand them! If you speak to him in the voice you used with the past CMO you will fail. Get to know him, how does he make decisions? What are his problems, pain points? Just as you conduct focus groups to verify creative before you kick it off for clients, you need to test your new messaging before you launch your firms’ value proposition.

Or, you can keep playing let’s make a deal and keep complaining about how your accounts “just don’t value your work anymore…” And oh by the way, how is that working for you?

Advertising Age’s Jonah Bloom offered seven steps to fight commoditization;

1. Say No

2. Realize you are on the same side as your rivals

3. Specialize

4. Change the cost dialog

5. Accept risk

6. Stop selling ads as a solution to everything

7. Look for new revenue streams

Markets will always have bottom feeders doing stupid things, and rarely do they survive. It is your job to rise up and connect to your client’s needs of today and your firm will survive. If your entire business model is selling ads alone, then you are in trouble. When was the last time an Ad made you take action and buy something? An Ad may play a role in the overall buyer process, but buyers today are doing much more than waiting for the perfect ad to solve their problems. If your model feels like it has become commoditized it is because your customers have lost the connection between your work and the results your work produces. If all you have been “pitching” are more and more Ad’s then they have also lost trust in you.You are speaking to new buyer personas that make buying decisions differently than your buyers in the past. If you are selling a “one size fits all solution” in ads alone, you will fail.

I need to check in with Dick Maggiore. I learned a great deal working with his amazing team. Get to know the customer, buyer and users and speak to them authentically about how you solve their problems… my guess is Dick is struggling more with turning away clients than commoditizing his services.