Chapell & Associates

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It was an honor to participate in the Mediapost Email Insider’s Summit last week in Florida. I’ve seen a number of links to this event, and thought I’d offer some of my thoughts as an event speaker.

David Daniels of Jupiter shared some research he conducted – as did Exact Target, and Habeas. And the consensus is that people of college age and younger are not using email to communicate. And a panel of Ball State students corroborated the research findings by sharing their own experiences. So from what I could gather, everyone in the room of email experts recognized that ‘the kids’ aren’t using email very much. There doesn’t seem to be much disagreement here.

The kids aren’t using email – yet, none of the email-marketing experts saw this as a bad thing. And that surprised me. Most of the experts are taking it for granted that the kids will start using email as they enter the work force. I think that’s a risky assumption for anyone who is counting on email as their livelihood.

Where is it written in stone that email will be a prominent tool for business in perpetuity? The hand written memo was all the rage at one point. And my dad made most of his living by dictating memos to his secretary via the smith-corona typewriter. And later, added the fax machine. If we’ve learned anything over the past ten years, its’ this – the way business is done is subject to change. Email is not a final destination – it’s only part of the journey.

Even if email remains the dominant business communications tool, that doesn’t necessarily follow that email will be used for personal communications. It’s hard for me to understand why people who are 15-20 years younger than me – who have less invested in email as a communications tool than I do – will somehow stop using Facebook, SMS and other tools once they enter the work place. So even if forced to use email for business, the kids are going to continue to communicate with friends via other mechanisms. If if kids aren't using email outside of work, that's going to make things very difficult for advertisers trying to reach them via email.

I’m not saying email is dead. But I am saying that it will not be nearly as popular five years from now. And if you make your living in the email marketing ecosystem, you’d be wise to invest in alternative messaging tools.

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posted by Alan on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | |

Monday, February 04, 2008

Trade Associations - Practice what you Preach

A few months ago, I ranted about a large trade association that called me at 8am with a prerecorded message about permission marketing. Oh, the irony!

I'm also a member of another trade association. This one is much smaller - maybe 300 or so member companies in north america. I really like this group. They do good work, their meetings are generally pretty productive, and they've managed to cultivate a culture where most of my interactions are with them are fun. I chair one of their committees and am very active in several others. What's more, my company has won a good deal of business through the relationships we've cultivated via this association.

It's also worth noting that this association has crafted some excellent standards on permission marketing. The association understands that too many annoying or intrusive messages will significantly dampen consumer trust and responsiveness.

Like most associations, this one has a board of directors. So every year, the association runs an election to choose a new board. And the election period lasts about 3-4 weeks while 20 or so members lobby for my vote. They lobby via email. They ask for my vote via long winded pre-recorded voicemail messages. Most of the messages open with some pedestrian line like "I know you're probably getting a bunch of emails requesting your vote in the upcoming elections..." Yep, pretty uninspiring stuff.

So what does that mean for me? It means that I'm inundated with messages - many from folks who I don't know - for 3-4 weeks every year. This is a pain in the neck - not only for me, but for other members too. (I've asked around a bit.)

Seems strange that a trade association that espouses permission marketing for it's members can't embrace those same concepts when electing its board.

Here's what I propose. for the next election.

1 . Only one email per candidate - I can deal with one email from each, but when you get up to 3-4 from each, it becomes annoying. (Side note: I strongly encourage the candidates to be a bit more creative in terms of their message, and discorage the use of large attachments.

2. No phone calls unless you know me - If you're really active in the association, I should have a sense of who you are. Like I said, I'm very active with this group. I go to several of their face to face meetings every year, as well as other association events. And it's not like the DMA or CTIA where it's so large that you can't possibly know everyone. So my second rule is that you shouldn't be calling me up and asking for my vote unless you already know me. Not only would this cut down on the number of calls, but it encourages people who are thinking about running for office to find reasons to reach out to the greater community BEFORE the election. Get to know some of the members at an event. And that way, you don't come off like some interloper come election time.

3. No pre-recorded messages - If you know me, and you want to contact me, pick up the phone. If you're too busy to take the time calling your friends and colleagues, then maybe your too busy to be on the board.

I'll submit these suggestions to the executive director of the association. Will let you know the director's response...

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posted by Alan on Monday, February 04, 2008 | |

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