How NOT To Kill The Skunk

"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself."--Abraham Lincoln.

The 16th President of the United States got it right. This quote stands true today in the world of email marketing. Throughout the year we've talked about the PR problems email has dealt with--from poor budget support, to C-level misconceptions, ROI equity and more. As we near the start of 2007, I leave you with this question: Are we actively helping email's PR challenges, or are we too focused on our own debates that the skunk still stinks too much to the outside world?

As I drift through the posts and replies, the blogs and articles, I see the same cast of characters asking important, key questions about the present and future state of email marketing companies and agencies. While the topics and insights are relevant beyond the scope of just email, the audience for these discussions remains generally the same; relatively small and closed off from other larger, key audiences of stakeholders. "Hey so-and-so, I knew we'd both be here. Ever feel like we're just talking to ourselves?"

Don't get me wrong. If you're an email geek like me, then you're a hero! The discussions and gatherings of the focused group of email professionals represent essential momentum in our industry. Whether through blogs and articles or Email Experience Council white paper submissions, the ongoing challenges and standardization of key themes in email marketing "help[] expand the power and impact email has on everyone's lives," to quote Jim Gawley in last week's Email Insider column.

We did an amazing job of setting the stage in 2006. In 2007, I feel that it's time to set some guiding principles in the way we socialize our themes so that larger audiences of less "email-centric" marketers feel open to participate and challenge our dialogue. 2007 needs to be a time to socialize our email insights around a wider network, particularly with disciplines a bit farther removed from our space than normal. Areas of planning, creative development, brand strategy, and broadcast may be "socialization targets" for our case studies and channel insights.

This will improve the way in which we speak about email, reducing the complexity of our presentations. It will drive questions and topics that spark discussion. Surely broadcast media veterans can offer advice to rich-media newsletter planners, and likely contribute to our creative consideration as well. The thought-starters to our tried-and true forums can be used for email debates at venues like the EEC, MediaPost events like OMMA and the Email Insider Summit, and more.

Next year offers us a chance to cast a wider net and engage the digital and non-digital worlds in the excitement we have realized in 2006. Help me, and all the email evangelists like me, to spread the word.