Eating Email's Lunch
That may be a tall tale I heard years ago, but it’s a good example of a menu featuring assumption, miscommunication and frustration: a recipe for disaster.
Recently David Baker wrote a great post here about email marketing clichés. The word “cliché” allegedly derives from the sound of casting a phrase in molten metal for movable type. Printers would often create blocks of recurring text and just drop them in whenever they were needed instead of making new letters from scratch. The whole idea was not to have to think about recurring phrases (clichés), and have them ready to go when required for the sake of time and convenience.
David spoke of the clichés in email marketing that abound. Of course, every industry has them. But I do wonder if we insiders make it harder than we have to for people to learn the lingo and get in the groove.
GetResponse CEO Simon Grabowski has a real pet peeve about “shop talk,” and constantly reminds us that we have to stop using industry jargon and abbreviations under the assumption that clients always know what we are talking about.
I still run into people at events who ask me what kind of work I do -- and when I tell them I’m in community management with an ESP, their faces go blank. I wonder if they’re expecting me to suddenly blurt out their favorite color or some other Kreskin-like revelation. Until I got into email marketing, I didn’t realize an acronym could also be a double entendre.
One of the most important skills in the ever-changing world of online marketing is the ability to put things in a frame of reference people can relate to. In the past I’ve read smug social media “experts” pontificate that if you’re a 20something social media manager and you can’t get things done, the problem is the 40-year-old in the corner office.
In fact, regardless of the channel, it’s up to you (whatever age you are) -- not the C-suite exec or the client -- to put things in a context folks can not only understand, but relate and warm to. I don’t have to remind you that knowing your clients is every bit as important as knowing the product. Discovering their knowledge and insight, and then using that to create a comfortable frame of reference, makes everyone in the room feel as smart as they actually are.
For years it seems, we’ve tried to encapsulate email marketing wisdom into a kind of box lunch of procedures, calling them “best practices.” There’s nothing wrong with this -- unless the people handing out those lunches forget what it’s like to have to eat one. I often think the food on airlines would be a lot better if the CEOs running them had to eat those same meals daily. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps we get so busy worrying about others eating our lunch that we forget to taste it ourselves.