The Author

An avid spinner and iced tea aficionado, Julie tackles association, nonprofit and small business communications challenges in this blog.  She's Senterline's Chief Problem Solver, able to overcome redundant databases and prickly politics with the greatest of ease.

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How NOT to Market Your Business

I received an email today from someone I've never heard of. That's not unusual. We spend most of our time sifting through unsolicited email to find the imperative ones from bosses, coworkers and clients.

But this email stood out in my inbox because it had two exclamation marks next to it. Not just important, but vital. As in MY-BUILDING-IS-ON-FIRE-AND-I-MUST-EVACUATE vital!

I checked out the subject line. "Affordable Housing Advocacy Research Support."

Plausible. I serve several clients in the housing industry, and some of them focus on affordable housing. This could be from one of their employees or vendors. With given the political climate surrounding redevelopment funding in California, an email with that subject could represent an actual emergency. Two exclamation marks.

But no.

After opening the email, I realize it's simply a marketing email. Now granted, it's a good message. It gives the reason why the company's services are needed, who they've helped in the past, and what they can offer. It's even targeted to the emails of the top providers of affordable housing in California. 

And I'll never look at it again. Why? Because of those two exclamation marks.

Marking an email as important or urgent when it's not simply because you want your audience to open the email is disingenuous at best. I used to receive these types of emails from public relations "professionals" when I was a reporter and my automatic reaction was to always delete. If they didn't respect a true emergency, they didn't deserve my time.

Now I see this tactic used in marketing, and my reaction is the same.

Don't waste my time (or anyone you want to do business with) by falsely making the email seem important to catch their attention. If that's the only move you have to get your audience to open the email, you have bigger problems than my delete button.