I stirred up my own controversy a year ago by suggesting that RSS was not ready for prime time when it came to marketing, even though a year later the impact of RSS on marketing professionals is still negligible.
I find it hard to imagine a similar response coming from the email marketing community to a perceived slight. There seems to be a decided lack of any kind of passion in this industry for what we do. Yes indeed, there are the David Bakers and Jeanniey Mullens of the world. Or should I say, there is David Baker and Jeanniey Mullen. Beyond a handful (if you are missing a few fingers) of people, there is quite a distinct void of truly passionate, let's-move-the-bar forward, kind of people in our industry. People like Richard Gingras and Matt Blumberg don't count because they have a vested interest in being passionate.
Where are the folks wholove email for the sake of email? Where are the true evangelists? Why aren't more people excited by this industry? My guess is that we have bought into the "spammer by association" mentality. Years ago, on the show "L.A. Law," there was a laughable character who was a direct marketer. He was rich, he was boring, and he was passionate about direct marketing. I guess people don't want to be that guy (except for the rich part).
We need to recast how we view ourselves. Email requires dedicated, passionate people involved in it, because like or unlike SEO, it is rocket science. There is a lot to know, technically, creatively, and intellectually. And we need to believe that what we do is actually a good thing: We move the needle when it comes to driving traffic around the Web, more than any other source. We provide a high return on investment to companies, the highest of any marketing channel. And people really do (and you have to believe this) like to get opt-in offers and information from brands they trust. They do. In fact, they even like to get them from brands they don't trust - the reason spam works so well.
Why are the SEO guys and the RSS guys so passionate about what they do? Maybe because it seems so cutting-edge. Maybe because they're not embarrassed to say what they do at a cocktail party.
But at some point we need to declare proudly: "I'm an email marketer. I drive business forward."